'Awkward Moments (Not Found in Your Average) Children's Bible' Becomes Immediate Amazon #1 Bestseller
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If you thought the bestselling "Go The F***k To Sleep" wasn't appropriate for children - you haven't seen anything yet! Combining real Bible verses with whimsical illustrations, "Awkward Moments (Not Found In Your Average) Children's Bible " offers much more than an irreverent gag gift for the coffee table. "The goal of the project," says author Horus Gilgamesh , "is to challenge readers from all walks of life to gain a better understanding of the content of the Bible and its context in modern day culture. The fact that our fans report shooting milk out their noses from laughter is just an added bonus."
On its very first day of online sales, Awkward Moments' loyal fans pushed the book to become the #1 Bestseller on Amazon.com 's Humor & Religion category (a week before the book was set to officially release on October 31, 2013.) What started as a private online joke took a quick turn to self-publishing in order to meet the demands of the 14,000+ fans who follow the Awkward Moments Children's Bible page on Facebook. "It isn't because of anything we did to reach #1 on our first day," said Gilgamesh. "It is all because of our amazing fans - they've been begging for a book!"
Awkward Moments doesn't pull any punches as the book explores some of the most confusing and at times gruesome stories from the Bible. The 80 page book begins with two forewords - a heavily redacted preamble from Facebook's own "God," along with thoughtful notes on Biblical literacy from author David G. McAfee. Then the real fun begins with thirty-two whimsical full spread illustrations painted by the accomplished artist, Agnes Tickheathen. Starting with the Old Testament's depictions of foreskins, genetics research, rape, and unicorns, the book moves on to the New Testament to uncover little known history of the Bible's roots while asking many important questions about Jesus Christ. (Many samples from the book can be found online...)
While many of the images might stretch the limits of some people's comfort zones, the accompanying commentaries found in the back of the book bring context and relevance to each illustration that will likely challenge many readers. Each commentary also includes web links and QR codes to engage readers in active online discussions related to each illustration.
"The funny thing is - the book isn't actually a parody or satire at all," stresses the author. "We use word-for-word passages directly out of the Bible. Sure, we get a lot of hate mail. Many Christians don't like the idea of Jesus telling his disciples to 'hate everyone.' But those are His words - not ours." The book toes a fine line between tackling some of the toughest topics in the Bible while not being flippant or disrespectful toward Christians. Horus adds, "We don't want to alienate anybody. After many years in full time ministry, I am fully aware that some Christians will be angered by some of the ideas we share. On the other hand, we didn't write the Bible - we just illustrate the parts that many people would like to forget."
Though excessively labeled "NOT FOR KIDS," the illustrations are vibrant and full of life, mimicking that of the most revered children's books - at times tricking readers to not notice the real subtext of the image and verse. As a result, readers may miss the subtle nuance and innuendo hidden in the images at first glance. It is the commentaries that are included with each passage that will unveil the purpose of the illustrations and challenge many readers, bringing to light many ideas and facts that may trouble the average Christian. For example, uncovering the most original Greek translations of the New Testament where some verses have been dramatically altered through the ages in order to paint a picture of Jesus Christ that is quite different from what was intended by the original authors.
Why would Jesus become angry with a suffering leper? Why would Jesus encourage the killing of his enemies? Why would God try to kill Moses? Why would God send bears to tear 42 boys to pieces? Why is Jesus so explicit about the old "law" remaining in full effect? Why does Jesus demand that his disciples eat his flesh and drink his blood - literally? Awkward Moments addresses all of these questions in a unique and accessible way.
"We aren't trying to offend anybody, we just want people to really think about the most important book in the history of world - a book many have never read," says Gilgamesh. "A recent Pew survey shows an overwhelming lack of Biblical knowledge among Christians in the U.S., with 55% unable to even name the four Gospels. And, these are the very foundation of Christianity!" When asked about the online controversy that some of the illustrations have caused, he adds, "It is no surprise that some readers are shocked to see what the Bible really says about the Great Flood, Jesus' anger issues, birth control, slavery, or women's rights. But, don't blame us - it's in the Bible! We just paint the pictures to go with the scripture. It is up to readers to interpret the content and context for themselves."
Awkward Moments doesn't only address issues of the ancient past. The book paints a clear picture of how the Bible continues to influence modern culture today - referencing the work of famous (and infamous) modern Christians like Pat Robertson, Ken Ham, and Fred Phelps. Using examples of changed, added, or deleted passages of scripture that have acted as the basis for many traditions and laws, Awkward Moments also makes a stunning case for the importance of Biblical literacy in modern society. Illustrator Agnes Tickheathen remarks, "I don't have any trouble with people believing in Noah's Ark. What I have a problem with is that most people completely gloss over the fact that this wasn't just the backdrop for a colorful story of adventure and perseverance. It is a gruesome story of God, our Father, having a mighty temper tantrum that led to the mass slaughter of his own creation - worldwide. The same God who would come to earth in the form of his Son? How do we reconcile these differences? These are the questions that I am fascinated by."
One early online review says, "The combination of real [Bible] verses with the shocking imagery is just brilliant! Many of the commentaries are extremely challenging - even to those with 30 years of experience at the pulpit. There is a perfect mix of humor, history, and self reflection. Even the pen names had me laughing! It's like David Sedaris, Ricky Gervais and Bart Ehrman got together to make people think and laugh at the same time."
When asked why they chose to self-publish the book, Gilgamesh replied, "We had a few offers from great publishers early on, but they just didn't understand the project. Frankly, they all wanted to skip the most difficult stories and dilute the artwork in an effort to not offend mainstream Christians. I understand their concerns, and it is the same reason I write under a pen name." (A name that is a tongue-in-cheek nod to Horus and Gilgamesh, two stories that predate the Bible yet share striking similarities.)
"Awkward Moments (Not Found In Your Average) Children's Bible" contains 80 pages of full-spread illustrations and commentaries along with a one-of-a-kind crossword puzzle and BibleLib. The book retails for $16.99 and is now available through Amazon.com and most retail outlets with the ISBN 978-1492177449. Retailers can purchase the book through CreateSpace and signed copies are available through the website, AwkwardMomentsBible.com.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Horus Gilgamesh was raised Catholic before being "born again" in college and starting a life of full-time ministry focused on evangelism and Biblical literacy. During his time overseas, he witnessed firsthand the unspeakable horrors that much of the undeveloped world is afflicted with on a daily basis. This lead him to struggle with the problem of suffering in the Bible and take a closer look at the basis for his faith.