OMGWTFBIBLE at the Magnet

Episode 11Episode 10 is in the can! Last night was a hell of a lot of fun. As always, the folks behind the scenes at the Double Wide were nice as can be, incredibly helpful, and just generally great to work with. John and I are working diligently to clean it up and get it ready for your downloading and listening pleasure by August 5.

Last night, though, I shared some very exciting news with the audience. In August, OMGWTFBIBLE will have the honor of being part of the Test Drive series at the Magnet Theater–one of the top improv comedy theaters in New York. The Magnet uses Test Drive to find shows to add to their regular schedule. So if the next episode goes well, OMGWTFBIBLE could find a new home at the Magnet Theater. This would mean a wider audience, a space designed specifically for comedy, and, more importantly, a better show. If OMGWTFBIBLE becomes a Magnet show, I’ll be working with the artistic director there to give you a show that’s even funnier, tighter, and more insightful than it already is. Continue reading

For Fuck’s Sake

For some reason, when I first started telling people about this show, I was surprised when they took offense at its name.

“Isn’t that a little disrespectful?” they usually ask, referring to my use of an f-bomb in such close proximity to “Bible.” “Don’t you think you’ll offend people with that?”

If I’m feeling flippant, I’ll tell them that if they’re offended by the name, OMGWTFBIBLE is not for them. The “fuck” in the title is a built-in mechanism for weeding out those who might not be so into this show.

Usually, that’s enough for people, and I’ll go find someone else on the subway car to give a sticker. And, while that reason is true, there’s a deeper thought behind this show’s name that deserves longer elucidation here. Continue reading

Rethinking Chapter Breaks in OMGWTFBIBLE

As you’ve probably realized by now, the chapter divisions in OMGWTFBIBLE do not match the divisions in any other bible. That’s because I made mine up! Up to this point, I’ve been preparing what seems like a decent chunk of text for each monthly episode and calling it a “chapter.” Episodes 1 through 8 of this podcast are also chapters 1 through 8 of OMGWTFBIBLE. Considering the chapter divisions in every other version are totally arbitrary and only about 1000 years old, I don’t see any problem with this. Some of the original chapter breaks are pretty jarring!

BUT. Continue reading

The End of the Beginning

Wow.

OMGWTFBIBLE is a project I started a little over a year ago. On a bit of an insane whim, I decided to write my own translation of the Hebrew Bible. The podcast I do each month, where a friend reads a chapter or so of my translation while I provide commentary, is a fun way to showcase the work I’m doing, but the core of the project is just to create this thing: a complete, relatively accurate, and interesting translation of the entire Old Testament. In what little free time I have.

Very often, this has seemed like an impossible task. The book is just so massive, not to mention rife with words with ambiguous or unknown meanings, that in the back of my mind, there’s always been a little nagging voicing saying, “do you really think you can pull this off?”

Maybe I can. I’m happy to announce that, as of this weekend, I’ve finished my initial translation of Genesis. Or, as I’m calling it, “In the Beginning.” I still have to revise it and edit it and make sure the jokes are actually funny, but the words are all there. It’s done. I’ve translated the first book of the Bible.

Therefore: thank you everyone who’s been coming to shows or supporting this thing online or given me reviews on iTunes or helped with promotion or been a guest on the show or have simply let me know how much they’ve enjoyed it. So much of the reason I’ve kept pushing forward to finish the first book is because of the feedback I’ve got. Thank you for reminding me that, even when I’m searching through concordances for hours to figure out what obscure ancient words mean, this is a thing worth making.

Live Show Tomorrow!

abeTomorrow, Julie Sugar will be joining me at the Parkside Lounge to read Chapter 8 of this wackiness. Some highlights: Avrahamic deceit and PLENTY of child abuse!

Here is the facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/544827828889571/

Be there if you can! I’ll be handing out all sorts of free OMGWTFBIBLE paraphernalia to everyone who shows up. Brochures! Stickers! Show posters!

This month is so special there are two posters for it! HOLY CRAP!

OMGWTFBible - Chapter 8 poster

Responding to Boston

Last night, before the show, I felt compelled to address the terrorist attacks in Boston that day. To start the show without talking about that tragedy felt wrong. Since I was recording, I’ve released my remarks as a special podcast episode.

It’s available in Stitcher, iTunes, RSS, and direct download.

My statements, as prepared (I deviated a bit in the recording), appear below:

There’s something I need to address. As you hear this, this happened more than a week ago, but just a few hours ago, there were two explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. We don’t really know anything right now. Two people are dead and there are reports of over a hundred wounded.

This is awful and has made me sick to my stomach. My heart goes out to everyone affected by these apparently deliberate attacks. I have family in Boston and I got in touch with them and they’re ok—but there are a lot of people who aren’t.

These was a moment this afternoon when I considered cancelling tonight’s show. Something about my taking such a cavalier attitude to a text so many people consider sacred in the wake of such a tragedy seemed a bit insensitive.

But then I realized that’s exactly why I should perform tonight.

This book is at the center of millions of peoples’ ideologies.  For a lot of the world, morality is driven by the book I’m going to make fun of tonight. And sometimes, some people (a very small minority, but some) stand so firm in their ideologies, whether they come from this book or not, that they reject all other points of view. And they kill.

You’ll see seemingly righteous killing in this month’s chapter. And a lot of people base certain moral judgements on what we’re about to read. Part of the reason this show must go on is to point out the ambiguity that exists even within this ideology—that those who stake a claim to absolute truth and morality might just be mistaken. And if they are, they probably shouldn’t condemn anyone. Or kill them.

The other reason, and this is more of a traditional reading than I usually do in this show, is because of the conversation Avraham has with God. As you’ll see, Avraham convinces Yehovah to spare the cities of S’dom and G’mora if He can find 10 innocent men within.

Presumably God, if you believe in Him, knows what lies in the hearts of men. He is the only entity that can know whether a soul is truly innocent. And he relents for the sake of 10 innocents. How can anyone, especially one who professes a belief in an Almighty, possibly claim to know what lies in the hearts of others and condemn countless times more than 10 innocents to death—when even God wouldn’t do such a thing?

OMGWTFMORMON!

Announcement time! Perhaps you’ve noticed how quiet this blog has been lately. Really, though! I have a reason for it. Lately, I’ve been working on a brand-new project!

For a while, I thought OMGWTFBIBLE would stay focused on the Old Testament. Obviously, that book will still take a lot of work–but I thought in the meantime, I’d get started on my next translation. OMGWTFMORMON! Look below the fold for more. Seriously!

Continue reading

Protecting Judaism from Itself

Rabbi David Hartman passed away this weekend and I’m pretty bummed that I’d never heard of him before today. From this piece in Tablet, I’ve learned that, like me, Rabbi Hartman grew up a self-described “yeshiva boy” until, according to the article, he “started to read.” Then, he became the kind of rabbi whose ideology seems very much in line with the goal of OMGWTFBIBLE:

His Orthodox critics never understood that his criticism and creative reinterpretations of the tradition were not offered out of religious spite, or a desire to lead their adherents astray, but to protect Judaism and the Jewish people from them—from Orthodoxy’s corrupting distortions of the tradition, from their claims to exclusive authenticity. He knew the Orthodox leadership’s perpetual constrictions, prohibitions, and negative pronouncements left precious little room for modern Jews to find or create a meaningful Judaism for themselves. In that sense, he saw the Orthodox establishment as robbing the majority of the world’s Jews of access to their birthright.

I feel like the Old Testament (and I use that name because when I say this I’m not just referring to Jews) is, whether we believe in it or not, as much our birthright and heritage as Milton, Shakespeare, Austen, or any other massively influential literary work. If you like, you could call OMGWTFBIBLE a reclamation of that heritage. It’s a reading of Judaism’s foundational text in a way that, to me, feels meaningful and alive.

Again, from Tablet:

He felt tortured by the fact that the tradition had become the jurisdiction of fundamentalists, on whom it was mostly lost. He favored a more open-ended approach to religious life in which Jewish practice is treated as an open-ended field of experimentation. “I don’t want order!” I can remember him shouting. “I want vibrancy, passion, people to have a stake in it, lay claim to it, feel it’s theirs, it doesn’t belong to anybody else. There’s plenty of order in a graveyard.”

I can only hope that Rabbi Hartman might see this project as my laying claim to this vibrant tradition.

No, “Jewish Atheist” Is Not an Oxymoron

I have been profoundly flattered by all the nice things people have been saying about OMGWTFBIBLE. Recently, Jewish Atheist, a not-very-religious blogger who, like me, comes from an Orthodox Jewish background, had this to say about the show:

This is a pretty awesome.

Reading through the Hebrew Bible.. and making fun all the way through. And done by an OTD Jew, which makes it a bit more relevant for folk like me than other popular bible-mockings. If you’re in NY, you should check out the live show.

I can’t say I disagree. If you’re curious about the live show, check out the details on facebook.