God is Disappointed in You by Mark Russell is meant to be a sardonic look at the Bible, going through from Genesis to Revelation, with illustrations from New Yorker cartoonist Shannon Wheeler. My expectations may have been too high or the humor not my cup of tea because, in the end, I was left feeling apathetic. An occasional chuckle does not make up for the blah blah blah boredom I experienced and, by the time I reached the Book of Psalms, I found myself wanting to flip through just to look at the cartoons and forget slogging through the rest.
Yes, some of the observations Russell makes aren’t amusing. After all, he’s right—Israel is the only nation named after a wrestler. However, as I read the book, I became increasingly confused about who is the intended audience for this book. Is it the Bible believer? Probably not as Russell and Wheeler clearly don’t take the the Bible seriously enough to please Christians. Is it the person who doesn’t believe in the inerrant Word of God? Maybe, but the humor is more quirky than extreme, more silly than insightful. I can only imagine how one of the New Atheists would virtually eviscerate the text.
Wheeler’s illustrations are what you would expect from a New Yorker cartoonist. Sardonic, satiric, and really the best part of the book. The problem as I see it is that Christians will think the book disrespects the Bible and non-Christians will think the humor doesn’t go far enough. If, as I said, I can’t figure out who the reader should be, I know one thing for certain—this book is not written for a reader like me. Fact is, I can't think of a single person who would appreciate this book more than I and can think of quite a few who would appreciate it less. God may be disappointed in me. I'm disappointed in this book. *sigh*