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Thu Dec 20, 2012, 11:37 AM


Christmas Eve Humor: The Lapsed Catholic Catechism

December 19, 2012

A new book has come out just before Christmas as a stocking stuffer gift — one that aims to ease the possibly guilty consciences of fallen away Catholics. The Lapsed Catholic Catechism, by former New Yorker writer Daniel Ford, has a lighthearted tone. It is also brilliantly illustrated with classic New Yorker cartoons on religion. (A bedtime prayer is captioned, “I don’t ask for much, but what I get should be of very good quality.”)

The irreverent new book transforms the official catechism’s Q&A, which Catholic kids have had to memorize for generations, into updated “FAQ” that gently suggest how far-fetched the author thinks Catholic teachings may be. Yes, enjoy a wonderful Christmas and go to Christmas mass, the new catechism says, while noting that there is “no foundation in the Scriptures” that Christ was actually born on December 25 (or any other day of the year). As for the virgin birth? Christ’s divinity? Catholic teachings about sex? Well, let’s not give the punch lines away.

In recent years there have been hard-edged best sellers on religion, by outspoken atheists such as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, that put the Catholic (and other) religions under heavy fire. With its decidedly whimsical approach, The Lapsed Catholic Catechism may do far more to let the air out of the Church’s tires. “Imagine a Seinfeld episode in which Jesus drops by and has a full and frank discussion with Jerry and the gang,” author Daniel Ford said. “That kind of informal debate on the key topics is what I wanted to present.” At a minimum, the book should provoke the kind of laughter that will give all sides in the debate about religion some holiday relief.


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