Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Review of Coffee with Jesus

It's often true that the obviously simple is found in the often deceptively complex. When weeding through the trivialities of life and faith, one often finds that the unnecessary usually obscures the fundamental truths of our religious beliefs. When broken down to the essential aspects of spirituality, most of us unite on common beliefs and aspirations.  Coffee with Jesus, the book version of the popular internet comic strip from Radio Free Babylon, not only brings simplicity to the often convoluted tenants of Christianity, but does so in a manner that will make you laugh while encouraged to think as well.

The just-released Coffee with Jesus from InterVarsity Press and written and illustrated by David Wilkie, is a series of sarcastically humorous comic strips developed from old advertising clip art and Sunday school illustrations. With a demeanor that never changes, Jesus guides, advises and occasionally reprimands five main characters that seem to be constantly stumbling through their faith journey with clumsy ignorance. The reader will find it easy to warm up to these Christian misfits. They might seem all too familiar to the typical church folks that we all know, and at times their antics may hit closer to home, as the mirror stands in full view. You'll find no stones to throw at Kevin, Carl, Ann, Lisa or Joe, but can reserve any judgement at Satan, who occasionally shows up for heated debate with Jesus and a hot cup of joe.

In this four panel comic strip, the characters are often found to be self-centered, hypocritical, materialistic and at times a bit arrogant. They begin their discussions with Jesus with innocent requests, trivial frustrations and child-like blissful comments, but as clueless as they often appear, Jesus never loses his cool. With unending patience, he never belittles and always seems to make the character comfortably feel as if their presence is the most important to him. And this is the juncture where humor intersects the thought provoking aspects of faith. Where the unnecessarily complex can be made simple.

For as you will find yourself chuckling at these ridiculous comic prayers answered by a sarcastic Christ, you will also find that fiction resembles truth more than we like to admit. There is a comforting aspect to Coffee with Jesus and a refreshing image of how our conversations with God can be. At a time in Christendom when the faithful are often force-fed a steady diet of everything from deep theological discourse to transparent self-help, it's refreshing to find resource that encourages the reader to not take themselves too seriously.

Jesus said in Matthew 18:3 that "unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Perhaps there is much that we can learn from these childlike characters and Jesus' untiring patience. For as they often seem to be caught up in their own little materialistic and often selfish man-made kingdoms, perhaps they've haphazardly stumbled upon access to a Kingdom that needs to be realized more often than it is. And they found it in their goofy request, superficial observations, silly frustrations and over a simple cup of coffee with Jesus.   

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