Three words, people. The Brick Bible.
I don't know how many of you have stumbled across this little work of genius — or have heard about it, as it's been a point of controversy in recent days. But I've just spent some of the best minutes of my life perusing the offerings of The Brick Bible — a collection of Old Testament stories illustrated entirely with LEGOs — and I'm not kidding, everyone's getting one for Christmas.
And this, too:
Okay, so it's not all fit for children. I mean, unless you consider incest, gang rape, bestiality and genocide fit for children. (Hey, whatever, I'm not judging.) But creator and illustrator Brendan Powell Smith, who has spent the last 10 years (!!) illustrating the Bible with his abundant collection of LEGO building blocks, assured readers that the most salacious of his illustrations (which you can find on his website, The Brick Testament) were edited out of the book version.
From what I gather, most of Smith's opponents take issue with how he has chosen to condense each story down to its essence, inject levity into some of his depictions, and include crazy-violent scenes — despite the fact that kids will be reading his book.
For example, this:
But it's hardly fair to blame Smith for that. Look what he was given? The Bible can be scary and brutal, not to mention pretty damn weird at times. I mean, come one, Sodom and Gomorrah? You can't put that shit on Smith.
But I want to go on record as saying that this is not some sort of atheist bible, either. In fact, it reminds me a lot of The Book of Mormon, the broadway musical written by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Yes, the show was hilarious and irreverent. And yes, there was a song with the refrain "There are maggots in my scrotum." And no, Stone and Parker didn't miss an opportunity to cast a bright light on the nuttier aspects of the actual Book of Mormon. But the musical was, above all, a genuine depiction of Mormonism — from its creation to its doctrines to its ministry. Those parts were never exaggerated, never mocked. That's an important distinction.
I first heard about The Brick Testament through a writer name Deborah Markus. I'd been searching the Internet in search of religious stories for nonreligious families, and came across an essay Markus wrote for secular-homeschooling.com. In it, she said she and her son were huge fans of The Brick Testament. She said her only requirement was that her son be familiar with the Biblical stories before looking at the Brick versions. I liked that, too.
This is all to say (sort of) that I'm still looking for the best religious books for nonreligious families. So if you have any recommendations – based on what you've read personally — please let me know. And if you're looking for a recommendation from me, well...