The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were never so much fun to read! The Cartoon Gospels contain cartoons that bring out the humor in the Bible through the use of visual parable. Jesus used parables - humorous, short, memorable stories that convey truth. Cartoons that are visual parables are simply cartoons that attempt to do the same thing ... bring out biblical meaning in a fun and memorable way. Hopefully with the help of a humorous visual aid you will see new aspects to the scriptures that may otherwise be missed. The Cartoon Gospel Series actually began as separate volumes beginning with the lectionary passages for year C (Luke and John) and expanded to years A (Matthew and John) and B (Mark and John). This book combines all three of the Cartoon Gospel Series but rather than follow the Gospel readings based on the chuch year, these are in Book - Chapter - Verse order for an easier read through each Gospel.
"The widespread failure to recognize and to appreciate the humor of Christ is one of the most amazing aspects of the era named for Him. Anyone who reads the Synoptic Gospels with a relative freedom from presuppositions might be expected to see that Christ laughed, and that He expected others to laugh, but our capacity to miss this aspect of His life is phenomenal. We are so sure that He was always deadly serious that we often twist His words in order to try to make them conform to our preconceived mold. A misguided piety has made us fear that acceptance of His obvious wit and humor would somehow be mildly blasphemous or sacrilegious. Religion, we think, is serious business, and serious business is incompatible with banter." -Excerpt from The Humor of Christ, by D. Elton Trueblood, Harper & Row.
The Cartoon Gospels cartoons are meant to be stimulating and humorous and are based on researched interpretation. Each one is "defensible" theologically (with the exception of minor cartoonist privilege now and then), even though the point is to assist you in your own analysis of the actual scripture passage. The message with each cartoon and passage provides one or all of the following - instruction, application and meditation.
"One of the barriers to hearing the word of God when we read the Bible is the feeling, "I've read all this stuff before." One way to break down that barrier is to see the humor that is often hidden in the Scripture. Rich Diesslin, uses a sometimes "off the wall" sense of humor to show us a humorous and, paradoxically, a dead serious side of the Scripture. [...] Jesus, who often used humor in his teaching would, we think, be pleased by these unorthodox and penetrating insights into his teaching." -Douglas A. Dickey.
The scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, since most of the original research was done from this translation. However, if you have a favorite version on the Bible, use it too! It's always interesting and informative to compare different translations of the Bible to see where they agree and differ. The Gospel scripture selections are based on Common Lectionary Readings for all three church years A, B and C (Advent to Advent).
Note: the (N#) on each scripture title represents the liturgical year (year A, B or C) and the week it is used. There are 57 possibilities within each year depending on where Easter falls for that year.
Thank you for reading The Cartoon Gospels. I hope you find that these are truly cartoons for the serious Christian.
I'd like to thank my parents, Howard and Micki, not only for raising me, but also for their interest in my cartooning projects. I have to thank my wife Mindy as well for her support and encouragement on this book and all my cartooning projects. It would never have happened without her! I have to thank my college fellowship for fertilizing the mustard-seed sized spirituality I brought with me; it's a really big weed now! Doug Dickey, Roger Callahan, and John Southwood were the ministers at the time I attended college. Joking around, working and even fishing with these guys indirectly led to The Cartoon Gospels. The Recently Discovered Book of Ralph (forever to be unpublished) was my first effort in cartooning the Gospel and having fun with the people involved in the fellowship at the same time.
There have been several people who have encouraged and assisted me along the way. If it were not for their insights and critiques I may never have stumbled into the current format. Their reviews were insightful and helpful, challenging me to modify, enhance and even drop some of the text and cartoons.
I would like to thank the Reverends Doug Dickey and Elton Trueblood, sadly they are no longer here to share in the fun, but their input, recommendations and encouragement were invaluable. Some of Doug's comments are found in the preface of this book and his sermons through-out my college days on the graces and faces of God will always be with me. I knew D. Elton Trueblood only through our correspondence (he was kind enough to respond to a letter I wrote him in appreciation of his book The Humor of Christ). He agreed to review original The Cartoon Gospel (of Luke) and wrote "The work you have done is impressive. You have done a great deal of thinking." Words like that coming from a noted scholar are encouraging, to say the least.
The Reverend Stan Jewell, Presbyterian minister, assisted by pointing me early on to the common lectionary as a good source of scripture passages that would be meaningful and significant to the church. The Reverend Thomas A. Baima, good friend, provost at St. Mary's on the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois and Roman Catholic priest, has always maintained an interest in my work and assisted in many ways including critique and encouragement. Rev. George Davis', United Methodist minister in Indiana, initial critique of my original manuscript assisted me in changing the format to something more user friendly - thus adding the scripture text and commentary. During my Master's work in Theology, my advisor and later partner in crime ... er ... cartooning of theological text books, William P. Anderson, Ph. D., Presbyterian Minister and professor emeritus at the University of Dayton, came up with the idea of using marginal characters to help add context to the cartoons (similar to what some editorial cartoonists do). We decided on Adam and Eve. This was so useful in our A Journey Through Christian Theology (Fortress Press) textbook that I carried them over into the remaining cartoons of The Cartoon Gospels. Since this idea occurred part way into the development of the cartoon gospels, only two-thirds of the cartoons include them. They provide extra commentary from their rather unique position in history.
Mindy has often been my sounding board for cartoon wording or development issues (e.g., is this better or that better, or gee that guy looks sort of weird) which provide a very valuable sanity check to my work. Her mom, and my Mother-in-Law, Doris Anne Onken has been particularly helpful in editing this volume as well as being very supportive of this rather off-the-wall ministry in general.
As a posthumous tribute, and simply because they work so well, the poems used at the being of each gospel were written by Helen B. McNary (Hammond). I hope you find them an enjoyable addition.
Most importantly, I thank God who blesses us with the presence of Jesus. I have come to a deeper understanding of the Scripture and a deeper relationship with Jesus than I had before I started. I guess I will always think of Jesus as the man, and son of God, who always has a twinkle in his eye, even when he is making his most serious point. I hope it adds another facet of Christ's personality to your life as well.
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