Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Last Testament: A Memoir by God

With David Javerbaum
New York, Simon & Schuster, 2011
365 pages     Humor

Aziz, our Muslim Saudi student renter, looked at The Last Testament sitting on the kitchen table, pointed at the picture on the cover and asked, “What is this?” What was I to say? “Ah," I said, “it’s a humorous book by someone pretending to be God.” He took another look and turned away. I don’t think I scored very many points with Aziz that day.

David Javerbaum, who has taken irreverent looks at lots of things, first as a writer for Jon Stewart and lately as a songwriter and author, has really done it this time…The Last Testament is the ultimate irreverence. This is not a book for the faint-of-heart or the fundamentally religious, nor is a book for people who know nothing about the Bible or religion in general. It is very funny, but there are some passages in which you say, “OMG, I can’t believe I just read that!

The book itself looks like a Bible, with books, and chapters and verses. There is an Old Testament and a life of Jesus--Jesus being “the classic middle son” with an older brother Zach, called H.G. or Holy Ghost for short, and a younger sister, Kathy. You will find chapters about God’s favorite things, a chapter of “Godlibs,” a chapter of recipes, including one for Junior’s Fishwish Miracle, in which the ingredients are five loaves and two fishes.

My favorite book is called “Pleader” in which God discusses his views on prayer and the answering of prayer. God says that children should not be praying “And if I die before I wake, I pray thee, Lord my soul to take.” He continues “Even I consider it bizarre, that the last words on children’s lips before they go to sleep would address the prospect of their own premature death. They are children. They should be asking me for ponies.”
Everything religious gets skewered—Jews, Muslims, Scientologists, Hindus and particularly Buddhists. Some verses are laugh-out-loud funny; some are pretty dumb; and some are so obscure that the reader (at least the readers in our household) has no idea what’s going on. On the whole, the book is erudite and sophisticated, although occasionally it tends toward the crass.

My husband and I read it aloud together every morning over the past couple of months; it was great to have a good laugh every morning.We remarked several times about how knowledgeable the author is about scripture and religion (Javerbaum, not God). Anyone who can so skillfully satirize God must know a lot about our religious idiosyncrasies.

 An interview with David Javerbaum:

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