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The Gospel According to the Simpsons

3.56  ·  Rating Details  ·  552 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
How did The Simpsons, one of the most popular television shows in history go from being attacked by many religious leaders for its lack of family values to being called one of the most theologically relevant programs in prime time?
Paperback, 164 pages
Published September 22nd 2001 by Westminster John Knox Press (first published August 20th 2001)
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Feb 08, 2013 Johnny rated it really liked it
Shelves: devotional
Early in the introduction to The Gospel According to The Simpsons, the great 20th century theological voice, Reinhold Niebuhr, is quoted: “Humor is a prelude to faith, and laughter is the beginning of prayer.” (p. 5) This is immediately followed by an observation that humor which is not founded upon a faith presupposition has a tendency to degenerate into cynicism and despair, while faith that doesn’t allow humor can quickly devolve into arrogance and intolerance. The entire book is predicated o ...more
Jun 24, 2012 Dale rated it it was amazing
An interesting premise and lots of fun

Published by Westminster John Knox Press in 2001.

Google this book and you will find some criticism based on the fact that have entirely missed the point of the book. The point of The Gospel According to The Simpsons: The Spiritual Life of the World's Most Animated Family is NOT to tell how the Simpsons preach the Gospel. They don't.

However, not only is The Simpsons the best show on television, it is also a remarkably spiritual show. It is the only show i
Jun 18, 2010 Matthew rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michael Berg
Oct 06, 2010 Michael Berg rated it did not like it
This book was very difficult to read because it could not hold my interest.

To me, it seems like this book is a typical religious person over analyzing something that doesn't really matter; trying to see something that isn't really there, and if it was indeed there, it wasn't put there "by God", it just happened (mostly because the show was required to be suitable for mainstream TV). The show did push boundries, but still had certain limits in order to remain on air - such as the "family orientat
Sep 28, 2011 J.D. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, favorites
You might be thinking "what could America's most famous dysfunctional family have to do with religion?" Of course, when you think about it, the Simpsons are probably the most religious family on television. They're about the only sitcom family that attends church every week and prays before eating every dinner. Their show is also one of the few comedies that regularly discusses religious topics. From teaching about the power of personal prayer ("Bart Gets an F" and "Bart Sells His Soul"), the im ...more
Apr 11, 2009 Mark rated it it was ok
I had this on audiobook, and--to be honest--I kept skipping ahead. It just didn't hold my interest, and didn't impress me very much. Once in a while it felt like there was some real study of sociology, religion, or television going on. Most of the time, though, it felt like endless stories of "Remember that time when Homer prayed for _____? Or when Ned Flanders did this ridiculous thing that really showed he's a good guy at heart?" In other words, too many Simpsons stories, not nearly enough ana ...more
Jul 24, 2007 Dan rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Simpson's Fans, people interested in religion and pop culture
This book is in the same Vein as The Philosophy of Seinfeld, and "The D'oh of Homer." I read it because I liked those other books.

This book contains several essays about how religion is portrayed in "The Simpsons." The general thesis is that while The Simpsons seems to be superficially irreverent the tv show accurately reflects the spirituality of the American people and how Americans relate to religion.

This book is pretty good. I found it slow at times. However, I found it generally informative
Nov 10, 2008 Linda rated it it was ok
This book was an assigned read for my church's adult Sunday School Class. As much as I'm a huge fan of the show, this book (the part that I did read) did not hold my interest. There were also errors that I caught between the book and the TV show. I'll have to give the book a try another time. As much as the show does portray good family values and makes interesting points about religion, I guess I lost interest in the book because I enjoy and watch the show for it's entertainment value only.
Jun 07, 2007 Emily rated it it was ok
Shelves: religion, nonfiction
As an avid Simpsons fan, this book really presented me with no new information. The majority of it was describing episodes that had religion or ethics related plots. I seen ever episode, so it was a waste of time. I would rather watch the episode than have someone else tell me about it.
Jan 13, 2009 Robert added it
Made me remember a number of episodes so was difficult not to laugh while I read.
Surprised to find that hard-core atheists hate the Simpsons
David Glenn Dixon
Washington City Paper
Arts & Entertainment : Book Review

Does Springfield Have a Prayer?
By Glenn Dixon • February 8, 2002

They may be a beloved national institution now, but when the Simpsons first moved into the prime-time neighborhood, not everybody was ready to send out the welcome wagon. A kinder, gentler America wasn't sure that young minds needed a role model like that wiseacre Bart, not to mention a father figure like that dunderhead Homer. The bratty, cynical mind-set of Matt Groening's
Dec 30, 2012 Jimmy added it
This work should probably be titled "Spirituality According to the Simpsons," though it will not have the same ring to it as the chosen title, "The Gospel According to the Simpsons." The reason why I think there should be a rewording of the title is because the book is not so much about the Simpsons and the Christian Gospel but rather it's an analysis of the Simpsons' outlook on religion and spirituality in general. The author is an Evangelical Christian which leaves me wondering about his abili ...more
David Sarkies
May 17, 2015 David Sarkies rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Nobody
Recommended to David by: A Church
Shelves: christian
Christians capitalising on a fad
7 November 2011

I can take this book one of two ways and both of them raise the question of why I bothered to actually buy it. The first is that as far as I am concerned the Simpsons have been flogged to death, and the second one is why do people insist on attempting to extract Christian meanings from films and television shows that are clearly not Christian. I guess the reason I bought this book was because I wanted to see how the writers approached the subject,
Stephen Fahrig
Jun 01, 2007 Stephen Fahrig rated it really liked it
Those who think of "The Simpsons" as just another cyncical, post-modern TV show with little redeeming value might want to take a look at this book, in which Mark Pinsky offers ample evidence of the show's spiritual side. One of the things that I have always enjoyed about "The Simpsons" (in addition to its biting satire) is the fact that it, unlike most TV shows and movies that Hollywood sends our way, actually acknowledges the central place that God and religion have in the lives of many America ...more
Rick Bregitzer
Feb 01, 2016 Rick Bregitzer rated it liked it
Pinsky tackles the differences and similarities of TV's longest running sitcom and the Gospels. While the book tackles some of the Simpson's family's theological confusion it does a better job of addressing the Simpson's Evangelical neighbor Ned Flanders. I thought this was pretty funny stuff all in all, but not theologically sound in the slightest. I'd suggest just reading this for entertainment.
Skylar Burris
Jul 23, 2012 Skylar Burris rated it liked it
Shelves: christianity
I don't remember much about this book, but I remember I vaguely enjoyed it (or at least I definitely enjoyed the small group discussion it engendered). I was a fan of the Simpsons and have an appreciation for its cleverness, although at some point in its billion years of episodes I did finally stop watching it. I always thought the show did a great job of poking fun at the institution of Christianity, with such an insider's barb that I figured at least one of the writers must have been a semi-re ...more
Oct 25, 2007 Marjanne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Simpsons Fans
This may or may not come as a surprise, but I am a fan of 'The Simpsons'. I have been for years (though I haven't really liked any of the episodes in the last 5 or so years). It is no surprise to me that there is religion and family values portrayed often in the show. In fact what I most enjoy about the Simpsons is the dead-on (usually) commentary about what life in America is like. Generally the things that people do think, but don't actually say. Anyhow, an interesting book. There was some com ...more
Jul 24, 2015 Keena rated it liked it
Pretty interesting, made me want to go binge watch the series!
Bill Rudin
Mar 08, 2012 Bill Rudin rated it it was amazing
I always knew there was more to "The Simpsons" than just silliness and characters behaving badly. This book forms the basis of the religious education curriculum I am teaching at my church, and the sixth graders are learning valuable lessons as we discuss issues raised in various episodes of the series. A fascinating book that gave me insights into new ways to teach kids important lessons and get them thinking about their place in the world.
I read the first edition. Our church based a 12 week sermon series on this for a study of the Lord's Prayer. Overall, a good book, but it loses sight of bigger themes when it gets into specific run-downs of entire episodes. The opening and closing chapters were most the fruitful, as they dealt with the big picture. I skimmed most of the middle chapters, with their endless summaries of entire swaths of dialogue and plot.
Oct 22, 2007 Brian rated it liked it
I read the first edition. Our church based a 12 week sermon series on this for a study of the Lord's Prayer. Overall, a good book, but it loses sight of bigger themes when it gets into specific run-downs of entire episodes. The opening and closing chapters were most the fruitful, as they dealt with the big picture. I skimmed most of the middle chapters, with their endless summaries of entire swaths of dialogue and plot.
Dec 11, 2008 Teresa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I didn't even bother with the afterword, however interesting as it could be, this book was solely based on over analyizing. All the connections and commentary the Simpsons apparently make to/concerning religion would make sense but there was no proof that the writers were even trying to make a big deal out of it, so i'm left wondering how much spare time the author really does have on their hands.
Jan 31, 2011 Michael rated it really liked it
For a short book, it contained a decent amount topics and they were done, for the most part, fairly well. There were a few questionable spots as far as the author's knowledge of The Simpsons characters and plots, but at the end of the book he fully acknowledges that he has probably made mistakes and apologizes. That right there allowed me to give it a 4 instead of a 3. Worthwhile read overall.
Apr 16, 2013 Magnus rated it it was amazing
This book is stupendous. As a believer in Christ and a long time show watcher I was unaware of the depth of the religious message the show conveys until I read the book and remembered common threads in many of the episodes. The book analyzes popular episodes in addition to seemingly less popular ones in order to convey the show is not as anti-Christian as some would have you to believe.
Eric hall
Dec 29, 2007 Eric hall rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As an avid Simpson's watcher I guess I never considered just how much religion is in the show. (Aside from the obvious, of course) The part with Millhouse and Bart switching the sheet music at church to Ina-Gada-Davita form Iron Butterfly is one of the funniest moments in TV history. It reads even funnier.
Sep 28, 2011 Dave rated it really liked it
The religious and moral themes of the Simpsons are a lot deeper than most realize/admit. For that matter, so are the religious and moral attitudes of people in general. So, in reading this - I had a chance to reflect on both. Enjoyed the read, made me think, opened my eyes... wish it could open others.
Blake Kanewischer
Apr 28, 2013 Blake Kanewischer rated it liked it
Shelves: religion
This book could use some updating to add in the newer episodes in the Simpsons' canon, but it's still a well-researched book that really underlines the elements of religion present in the Simpsons. A nicely done book that would be awesome for a church youth group or a religion in popular culture class.
Dec 21, 2007 Keri rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A little odd to read a dry, serious, study of religion in the Simpsons. However, it was nice that the book didn't seem to have an wasn't out to prove the Simpsons are really subversive born-again's nor are they satanic. Overall I'd say it's "Okily Dokily"
Sep 06, 2010 David rated it really liked it
An interesting look at the average American persons spirituality, using the Simpsons as a benchmark. Nothing really new in there, nor is there any actual exposition of "The Gospel" - it's just a collection of essays on religion and spirituality really.
Jul 01, 2008 Holly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was really well written. I had never really considered the possibility that the Simpson's attended to religion in any serious kind of way, but this book has convinced me otherwise. I enjoy watching the show even more now with this insight.
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A former staff writer for the Los Angeles Times and Orlando Sentinel, Mark Pinsky holds degrees from Duke University and Columbia University. As an investigative journalist specializing in capital murder cases around the Southeast, he has written for the Wall Street Journal and USA Today.

Although Met Her On The Mountain is his first true-crime work, he has previously published four religion books.
More about Mark I. Pinsky...

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