The Genesis of You Got to Be Kidding!: The Cultural Arsonist's Literal Reading of the Bible

The genesis of my book, You Got to Be Kidding! The Cultural Arsonist's Literal Reading of the Bible, is kind of strange. I woke up one morning, and the first thing I thought of was that I would read the Bible and when I found something funny, I would write about it. I had never had that thought before, and I don't know why I woke up thinking the Bible was funny, although it is hilarious.

I went over to my kitchen table, sat down at my laptop and downloaded an electronic version of the Bible. I read it until I got to the Adam and Eve story, and then I wrote the first sketch of the book. Over the next several weeks I read the Bible and wrote more than 70 satirical sketches. I wrote them really fast like a bunch of emails, hardly changing a word.

So that's how I wrote the book. But why did I write it? I wrote it for two closely related reasons. First of all, I wanted to expose the absurdity of the Bible. How is the Bible absurd? Well, the most absurd thing about the Bible is that in all probability almost nothing of importance described in it ever actually happened.

What else? How about Mosaic Law, Old Testament morality? It's not really morality at all. It's more like tribal code. Like, if you do work on the Sabbath, you should be stoned to death or, if you're a woman and you pretend to be a virgin and then you get married, your husband can have you stoned to death for having fibbed about being a virgin--that sort of thing. Funny, when I think of who today best embodies the values of Old Testament morality, it's really the Taliban.

Then, of course, there's Leviticus, 18:22, "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination." During Rick Santorum's campaign for the Republican nomination for president, reporters discovered that a few years earlier, he had said that "the definition of marriage" has never "included homosexuality. That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be." Some people were shocked that Santorum had equated homosexuality with bestiality. Actually it isn't surprising at all. Right after Leviticus 18:22 calls homosexuality an abomination, the very next verse says, "And you shall not lie with any animal." Wow! Smoking gun!

That brings me to the second reason why I wrote the book, and I'm very passionate about this. Bigots use the Bible all the time to justify their bigotry against gay and transgender people. They also use it to defend the subordination of women to men. These people say the Bible is the inspired word of God. Right. The Creator of the Universe is the real author of the Bible. How's that for absurd! But if you believe that God inspired the Bible, then if you hate gay and transgender people, you can certainly say that God is on your side because the Bible is definitely anti-gay -- not just the Old Testament but the New Testament too. The Old Testament is actually pretty easy on gay people by comparison. It just wants them dead, but the New Testament goes further. It says that, if you're gay, once you're dead, you should go to hell and burn in a fire forever and ever.

So the Bible-believing haters do have a point. The Bible, the inspired word of God, is hateful toward gay and transgender people, but that doesn't impress me. I say just because God is a bigot doesn't make it right.

We all need to stand up against people who use the Bible and religion to justify their own hatred and bigotry. My book does it with satirical humor. It shows that if you're intelligent, educated and have a sense of humor and you read the Bible literally, you get satire rather than fundamentalism.

The humor of the book is very radical. It's the humor of what I call a Cultural Arsonist, a person dedicated to setting fire to stupidity and burning up bigotry -- metaphorically, that is. But the humor is also disarming and because of the humor, the book has gotten a very positive response, even from people who are religious.

The cover of my book is also really important in how I stand up against people who are anti-gay and anti-transgender. My good friend, Gisele Alicea Xtravaganza, is the angelic nun on the cover of the book. Gisele is one of the most beautiful women in the world. She is also transgender. Gisele's image, both beatific and satirical, is itself a repudiation of Bible-backed bigotry.