You Got to Be Kidding!: The Cultural Arsonist’s Literal Reading of the Bible by Joe Wenke

I have been looking for a book such as this for a very long time. Christians would probably be advised to read no further. Joe Wenke takes an irreverent look at the Bible with You Got to Be Kidding, not just asking questions but stating, through examples, what most atheists believe, that the Bible is so far fetched it is actually humerous.

In it, Wenke dissects God’s behaviour in such a way that leaves you wondering if God, or any of the people who wrote the first part of the Bible, were on some bad acid trip through most of the Old Testament. He points out some pretty vengeful behaviour from God when he doesn’t get his way. Even when God gets his way he still pulls a few stunts that in light of the Ten Commandments leaves this atheist wondering what his problem was.

What I loved most about the way Wenke writes is that he frames most of the thoughts I have had at some time or the other. The title ‘You Got to Be Kidding’ articulates it perfectly. As an atheist there is a lot that leaves me scratching my head when I read the Bible.

Up until now most books that look at the Bible and delve in to some of its more fantastical parts are written in such a way that if you don’t have a scientific bone in your body you are left a little bewildered. Don’t get me wrong. I think Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens have written great books regarding the validity of God and Creationism. But they can be heavy going to a layperson.

I particularly loved Wenke’s chapter ‘Unanswered Questions’, where he asks questions about some of the Bible’s stories. Why was it okay to for Solomon to have 700 wives and 300 concubines and yet still write proverbs about adultery? If the Wise Men were so wise how did they end up needing directions? What happened to Joseph? Seems like an important character, Jesus’s stepfather after all. So where did he go?

Actually, thinking about it this is maybe the perfect book for Christians to read. Why? Because it explains in very simple terms exactly what an atheist thinks when reading the Bible. At least what this atheist thinks, and I am probably thinking quite similar thoughts to the rest of the atheists out there.

If you think about it, most atheists have read the Bible. We don’t agree with it, but our disagreement doesn’t come from ignorance. It is usually an informed opinion we arrive at after looking at Creationism from many angles. Personally not one of those angles made a lick of sense to me. It would be nice if Christians would at least return the favour and read books like Wenke’s [or Dawkins and Hitchens] without calling them evil, that they would at least take the time to understand an atheist’s viewpoint.

You Got to Be Kidding is in my opinion the perfect book for that. It is a well written, light hearted look at the questions most atheists have about God and the Bible. At 164 pages it is great if you don’t want to be weighed down for a month with a book.

You Got to Be Kidding will be released on October 1st, 2012

Publisher: Trans Über LLC

ISBN: 9780985900205

About the author: Joe Wenke was born the oldest of eleven children in a strict Catholic family in South Philadelphia and attended a long line of Catholic schools including the University of Notre Dame where he received a B.A. in English. He received an M.A. in English from Penn State and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Connecticut.A former corporate speechwriter, he is the owner of a leading event marketing company.

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Author: Jo Bryant

I was born in the land of Banjo Paterson, gum trees, and weather extremes. I am a freelance writer. I live in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand, but still like to claim my Australian heritage. I graduated with a Bachelor of Communications in 2008. I am writing my first novel. I love to write poetry, short stories, and also write for the web. And there is nothing that is on a par with a sunny summer's day spent at Waihi Beach.

39 thoughts on “You Got to Be Kidding!: The Cultural Arsonist’s Literal Reading of the Bible by Joe Wenke”

  1. Alternate perspectives and questions truly interest me. I do want to know what others think. I have visited, Catholic , Episcopal, Latter Day Saints, Bible-based, Scientology , and even Pentacostal. Just recently, I read about the Unity Church who believe in reincarnation. I find it all very fascinating. I would love to read it. I think more Christians should be open-minded. 🙂

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    1. I wish they were Angelia. Sadly many are not. Even amongst my Christian friends I know people who throw their hands up claiming Richard Dawkins is evil. When I ask if they have read his books they shudder and say of course not, he’s just trying to turn people away from God. Well I say that if reading his books can do that then maybe people should be reading them. What I never understand is saying you won’t read something that challenges your beliefs. In my opinion that happens because you are afraid your beliefs won’t stand the scrutiny. If Christians are right and there is a God, then what are they so afraid of in examining other viewpoints. Their arguments must surely be able to shed light on where these other viewpoints are going wrong if their beliefs are correct. For me personally…blind faith is ignorance.

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      1. You are absolutely right. Those who believe in truth should never be afraid to explore the world. I am a firm Christian, but I have read the Koran, I’ve read books by atheists and Mormons, and I’ve had many conversations about faith with many friends from all kinds of religions. Although sometimes the evidence seems at first to lead away from the truth of Jesus, it always comes around to confirm it. I’m enough of a student of history to know that! 🙂
        But definitely, it is totally worthwhile to try to understand others’ opinions… but really, I think you should give us a little more grace. From what I read you have a very difficult time seeing from our perspective (as do we, unfortunately, all)

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        1. You are right. I do have an extremely dificult time seeing religion from a religous person’s perspective. Because I will NEVER understand blind faith. To me accepting what men have written [the Bible or any other book for that matter] just because the writer says it is truth, is insanity. I love, for example, the Norse myths. I do not however, believe that Thor really ran aound with Mjölnir. I love Greek mythology but again do I believe that Prometheus was bound to a rock, where each day an eagle, the emblem of Zeus, was sent to feed on his liver, which would then grow back to be eaten again the next day. As for giving religion a little grace…why ??? Because it is religion ? While I will accept your right to believe what you wish to believe, and defend your right to do so…I see no reason to not state what I believe…that all religions are just stories made up by men to get other men to behave as they want. That is my right. Just as it is my right to state my political views. In any other arena of discussion over views about the world and life it is okay to debate these issues…to say: “Well okay, prove your point.” Yet in my lifetime when dealing with religion in this way I have experienced many who believe, decrying the fact that we [athiests] question them and ask for proof. Too many times have I heard in reply to my questions about some area of religion that does not make sense to me: “God works in mysterious ways” or “I have faith” or “You are taking it too literally”…seems to me when the Bible [as an example] tells that God sent in a bunch of people to murder everyone, including babies, children and livestock [oh except for the young vigins]…there is only one way to take that…he is telling you it is okay in
          my name to murder.
          So yes…I don’t understand your perspective. And I have tried. I really have tried. Just as I will never understand religions that sacrificed children to their gods. I appreciate the history, I enjoy the tale, but I don’t take it as truth just because the writer said it is truth. I look to other places for confirmation. If I find that confirmation then yes I re-examine my thoughts on the matter. If not then I search for more information. This I have done. At no point did I ever find anything that proved to me Jesus was anything other than a man. A good man perhaps, but just a man.
          And I don’t see how stating these facts is not giving you a little grace, or why you even need me too.
          I think it is wonderful though that you are open to understanding other points of view and that you would take the time to comment on here about that.

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  2. I am a Christian and I have wondered about some of the things you mention as well as many more that can leave a reader mighty perplexed. The Bible is a book that holds up under many readings and each reading if done with the proper frame of mind–which includes open-mindedness–provides new insights and revelations. The Bible is a truly amazing book. Some of the things that I have found to be troubling and puzzling in earlier readings begin to take on an incredible logic as I continue to reread them and study them more deeply.

    The Bible is a book that must be taken as a whole to be completely understood. To isolate certain stories will give a distorted view of the big picture. It’s like looking at Seurat pointillist painting with a magnifying glass–unless you step back to look at the entire painting, you won’t see the complete picture by looking only at the details.

    I think there’s a good reason why the Bible has survived so many centuries and influenced so much thought.

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    1. I have to disagree here. There are so many parts of the Bible that have not been included that I can’t see it as a whole. All of the gospels should be included in my opinion, but they are not. And I do believe that there is a good reason it has stuck around. People are afraid of there being nothing after this that we call life. I won’t go in to debate over whether God exists or not on here because obviously I believe he doesn’t. What I wish is that Christians would at least examine books like this to understand MY point of view. They don’t have to agree with it. Just don’t run around claiming anyone who writes about their belief that the Bible is absurd is evil. We are not evil…we just add up the facts and come to a different opinion. And that needs to be respected by Christians. Some of my Christian friends do show that respect but I have met many who do not.

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  3. It will be probably hard to get this book in my country, but I hopeI’ll have the chance to read it someday. As an atheist I understand very well your viewpoint in this post.

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  4. I haven’t read Hitchens yet, but I have read Dawkins. This one sounds like an interesting read, but funny. I like funny, serious books. Their points seem to sink in more into my thick skull.

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  5. I laughed 🙂 I bought my mother a copy of Spike Milligans short version of the bible. She had many years ago bought an australian (i think) humerous take on the bible for my children. Mums a Goons fan … and my fathers wife. My father is a minister of religion. Their faith in God is strong. Mine is now different. But they enjoy a good laugh at the ‘irreverant’ things in life as my father says 🙂 … thanks for popping by my page and the like 🙂 brightest blessings 🙂

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  6. Like you, I don’t believe in any god, Jo, but I have to say I despise Dawkins’ snippiness and find him utterly rabid and intolerant, whereas Hitchens has always had a more tolerant approach and respect in his debates on the subject of the beliefs of others. Dawkins, as brilliant a scientist as he is, actually does himself a great disservice with his fundamentalist approach and his seeming lack of empathy with other humans and what value their faith may actually bring to their lives.
    I will look out for this book. Have you read ‘Unintelligent Design’ by (Aussie) Robin Williams?

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    1. I think you have a very good point BB. Dawkins can be quite inpatient with Christians. But I do sort of understand his frustration with religion. I may be wrong but what I get from him when I read his books is exasperation with people who are blindly faithful. It is something that bewilders me truthfully. I do not understand why many Christians will not [and I know Christians exactly like this – lovely, generous people] even look in to the possibility that there may be merit in the idea that we were not concocted in six days but evolved over time. They say they do not need to read all THAT stuff because they know the Bible to be true. I actually had this conversation with a friend yesterday.
      ‘It is just what he thinks.’
      ‘If your heart is not open it will never understand the Bible.’
      ‘Science proves over and over again that they get things wrong.’
      ‘If he’s so sure God doesn’t exist why does God keep bothering him?’
      And when asked to read this and maybe understand where my thoughts run.
      ‘Why? I know you’re wrong.’
      It is just this blind faith they have in one book I will never understand. And the refusal to even consider that the people who wrote it at the time might have had their own agenda. Maybe it is the researcher in me, but over time I have found that once source is never usually 100% correct. What I also struggle with [and I think I felt this frustration within Dawkins books] is the constant line many Christians use when they can’t explain something. That it is God’s will. You’re not meant to understand. Have faith for he has a plan. Don’t take it all literally [which when the occasion suits is precisely what they do].
      When I tried to be a Christian and went to Bible study I left even more confused. Mainly because when I questioned things that either contradicted themselves, or [to me] made little sense I was either given answers that made less sense or my curiosity was brushed off with ‘if it’s in the Bible it’s true.’
      I will have to try and find ‘Unintelligent Design’, I have never read that one.

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  7. We constantly raise questions about other books, other beliefs, sciences, literature, ideas, thoughts, etc.. I think that’s what people do, pose questions and seek answers or truth. Thank you, Jo!

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    1. That is the one thing I love most about people – their curiosity. And that is why I do not understand religion Amy. They stomp on man’s best quality if it tries to prove anything that goes against their doctrines.

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  8. The way the power-crazed deities of various world religions behave is why I’ve always gotten a kick out of the Gnostic myth that all of those assholes are really just the insane godling Yaldabaoth under various names.

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    1. Oh Ed…i love the way you talk…hehehe
      I had to go look Yaldabaoth up…which is great. Because someone had recently been talking about Sofia and I was curious about her too. Oh how I love learning all this wonderful information. Oh and thanks for the endorsement !!!

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      1. No problem! Thank YOU! Glad you’re getting into Gnostic myths and figures like Yaldabaoth, Sabaoth, Sophia and Zoe,etc. I’ve written stuff about the Gnostic gospels and scriptures, too. Love the stuff!

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  9. Very nice review. Like I recently told a reader in my blog when I was asked if I believed the Norse mythology and deities:

    No, these myths & deities are just a part of our Norwegian heritage & history. Hopefully some day the muslims/christians/jews will also move on and leave their myths and beliefs to the history books. God is an anachronism.

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    1. An anachronism…well put !!!

      An anachronism, from the Greek ανά (ana: up, against, back, re-) and χρόνος (chronos: time), is a chronological inconsistency in some arrangement, especially a juxtaposition of person(s), events, objects, or customs from different periods of time. Often the item misplaced in time is an object, but it may be a verbal expression, a technology, a philosophical idea, a musical style, a material, a custom, or anything else associated with a particular period in time so that it is incorrect to place it outside its proper temporal domain. Sourced from: Wikipedia.

      Very well put indeed.

      As for your Norse mythology…I love this one:

      In the beginning there was no time. In a way, everything stood strangely still.

      However, the Æsir gave the Jotun woman Night and her son Day a horse and carriage each, placing them in the sky, where they were to circle the world every day. Night rode in front, mounted on her steed Rimfakse. Its mane was silver with frost, and the dew that fell on the fields every morning were drops of foam from the horse´s bit. Night was followed by her son Day. His horse was named Skinfakse, because of its gleaming mane.

      The gods then took sparks from Muspellsheim to make the sun, and set the moon on its proper course. Each of them was given a celestial chariot, with two children to ensure that they did not fall off and to drive the swift horses. The sun and the moon sped across the sky, constantly pursued by two huge wolves who snapped at their heels, trying to devour them! And one day … one day perhaps they will succeed…
      Sourced from: Bergen Guide.com

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  10. I posted a comment but I don’t think it took. It’s so hot here in L.A. that I’m ready to be frozen until they come up with a solution for global warming. I know a man who is a self-proclaimed “born again Christian.” I asked him about people who are born into different religions, like Islam or Hinduism. I said, “Why would God create all these billions of souls, only to condemn them to Hell.” His face went blank, but then it lit up. “Yes!” He said excitedly. “They are going to Hell.” You figure it out. I told him, “Don’t ever point a finger at me and tell me I’m going to Hell. Just don’t do it, if you know what’s good for you.”

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    1. I know it is crazy. This God…creates all these people who have never heard of him…look at all the ‘lost tribes’ etc., and they are going to Hell for not knowing he exists when no-one has told them. Insane, but then I think the Bible is the silliest, most contradictory piece of crap ever written…because it was written by men trying to control not only women but other nations. It’s a manual for lusting after what other people have, claiming you have a God on your side and killing everything that gets in your way. Just imagine someone today – like that guy in Denmark – claiming God made him do it instead of racism…should we let him go then…because it’s God’s will ????

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  11. Excellent post, Jo. I can understand how the Bible, or other ancient religious texts, came to be. They were peoples attempts at explaining things that they had no way of understanding without attaching supernatural abilities to someone. For many people today, that is still the only way they want to live, I guess.

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