I’ve had a chance to flip through a couple books recently, and wanted to share them with you. Jason Boyett is not a professional theologian, but he does live in Amarillo, TX (I’ll have to forgive him for that one…). He’s written a series of “Pocket Guide” books that are pretty clever. I mean, I can’t tell you how many times in my ministry this year, I’ve been asked a random question about the afterlife or saints, and thought to myself, “Dang! If only there was a simple, pocket-sized guide to the afterlife I could flip through to find the answer…”
Enter Jason Boyett and his Pocket Guide series of books.
For example, the Pocket Guide to the Bible has a handy “Cast of Characters” section so you could flip to Ehud, and find out rather quickly that he’s a “left-handed Israelite hero who assassinates Eglon, the super-fat king of Moab who holds the Israelites under his chubby thumb” (43). Or learn that the Nephilim were described as the “unnatural offspring of naughty liaisons between ‘sons of God’ (identity unknown) and hot young human females” (70). And for the real noobs out there, you could learn that Noah was “mostly known as the cute bearded guy who wrangles cute hippos and lions and doves while on a cute boat in all the children’s cute Bible stories. Whiteh conveniently leave out the part about the entire rest of the world drowning to death” (70). The Pocked Guide to the Bible ends with a list of “biblical flotsam and jetsam” which includes:
- Five Health Conditions that Sound Absolutely Awful, as Described in the King James
- The Four Best Moments for Donkeys
- Nine Miscellaneous Things You Must Not Do, According to the Law of Moses
- Seven Biblical Suicides
- One Statement by Paul That, When Taken Out of Context, Makes Him Sound Relatively Hip
- Four Biblical Excuses That No Longer Work Very Well
- and many more
And who doesn’t want a Pocket Guide to the Afterlife? Now when kids come in with vexing questions about “Where am I going to go after I die?” I can just say, “Here – flip through this book – and let me know what you think.” It covers information about heaven, hell and other ultimate destinations – including some I had never heard of before, for example:
- Chinvat Bridge: This is the place of final judgment in Zoroastrianism. I guess if you’re good, a hot woman is there waiting for you. And if you’re not…you got a shriveled old hag. Huh.
- Duat: This is the ancient Egyptian underworld…it’s a parallel dimension, accessible only by the soul. Sounds interesting…
- Naraka: Yah – you don’t want to end up here…this is the Hindu underworld…it’s at the bottom of the universe.
My favorite part was probably some of the sections in the “Afterlists” in which he shares with us Eight Surprises About Hell, as described by Bill Wiese in 23 Minutes in Hell (I always loved those books…wow).
The last one I had to look through was the Pocket Guide to Sainthood. It is described as a “field manual for the super-virtous life.” If you’re new to the world of saints, this book should come in very handy. It starts off with a helpful glossary of terms, including beatification, canonization, chastity and the fourteen holy helpers. Next it runs through a long, long list of Saints we should all know. There are some pretty famous ones listed like St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Francis of Assisi and St. Nicholas. But also lists lesser-known saints like St. Martin de Porres and St. Clare of Assisi.
Next we get a chapter entitled “There’s a Saint for That” which is really handy if you are trying to find someone a gift for a certain occasion or need to know what saint to pray to. For example, St. Benedict Joseph of Labré is the saint for rejects. St. Frances of Paola is the saints for naval officers and of course, St. Isidore is the saint for the Internet because he wrote a huge twenty-volume compendium of “universal knowledge.”
So, if you know someone who is just starting their first year of seminary – these would be very good additions sitting next to Calvin’s Institutes or Barth’s Dogmatics (probably much more fun and worthwhile reading). Of if you know someone who enjoys some good Christian/biblical humor, these would also be good books to pick up for them. And if you want to keep up with Jason, you can read his blog, follow him on Twitter or be his friend on Facebook.