Princeton-trained religious columnist Mark Pinsky offers a dual book in "The Gospel According to the Simpsons." On one hand, it is a survey of basic twentieth-century (and some earlier) Christian thought, especially Christian thought in the context of a more global society, as the Simpson's Springfield is a microcosm of American and World cultures. On the other, it makes a convincing (although somewhat unnecessary) argument that there is a very valid reason to pay attention to The Simpsons. Better-written, more accessible, and with far more depth than the "other" Simpsons book ("The D'oh of Homer: Simpsons and Philosophy"), "Gospel" is an excellent tool for those interested in either critical analysis of the show, or an excellent introduction to modern theology.
The chapters are arranged in an intelligent manner, outlining basic precepts of different Christian faiths: the idea of a personal God and personal prayer, the role of evangelizing, the existence of Heaven and Hell, the authority of the Bible, and so forth. Pinsky does readers the service of exploring the Jewish tradition and even the "miscellaneous" (Hindu/Buddhist) traditions in separate chapters; although these serve as mere introductions to these religions, it offers a nice balance and places the entire book within a larger context.
Although those who have studied Christian theology might want more depth, those people aren't the book's target audience. For those who want to make the teachings of Buber, Tillich, Lewis, Boenhoffer, and other recent theologians accessible to all (especially the low-attention-span, pop-culture oriented youth), "Gospel" is a great way to go about it. The writing is clear (not surprising since Pinsky is a journalist), and the topics timely. Fans of the show will no doubt enjoy seeing The Simpsons portrayed in such a positive light; satire is, after all, the highest form of humor, and the degrees of intelligence that go into understanding all of the show's intricacies will come as a reward for the diligent reader. For Christians looking for a fresh perspective on their faith, watching a few classic episodes with this book isn't a bad way to go.
Final Grade: B+