The Prostitute in the Family Tree by Douglas Adams

Publication Date: August 1, 1997



Douglas Adams (not THAT Douglas Adams) believes most readers of the Bible miss the humor and irony. If you’re missing the humor are you also missing the meaning behind Biblical stories?





Readers of this blog will know that I am a huge fan of THAT Douglas Adams. I knew that the author of “The Prostitute in the Family Tree” was not THAT Douglas Adams when I bought the book. I picked up the book because so many people bought it thinking it was THAT Douglas Adams and were disappointed in it for that reason. The villainization of a novel (that one reads) as the result of a misunderstanding that could have been easily resolved (with a little reading) seems grossly unfair. This reviewer proposes to determine if [easyazon_link identifier=”B00FF0C9P4″ locale=”US” tag=”rabidreaders-20″]The Prostitute in The Family Tree [/easyazon_link] is a valuable read on its own merits and independent of the assumed author.

THAT Douglas Adams is a well-known radical atheist. The Douglas Adams that wrote [easyazon_link identifier=”B00FF0C9P4″ locale=”US” tag=”rabidreaders-20″]The Prostitute in The Family Tree [/easyazon_link] is a Biblical scholar. If you go into this read expecting Mike Warnke (the only Christian comedian that springs to mind), you will be sorely disappointed. What Adams gives readers is a smart and entertaining theological resource that while not fully polished manages to get the point across.

Adams shines a light on common hypocrisy in organized religion. While possibly not intentional, modern churchgoers whitewash the more egregious figures in the Bible in order to grant them humanity and humility that they won’t grace their fellow man. The tale of the Prodigal Son, for example, shows a man finding himself back to home, hearth, and faith. What if instead of coming home a changed man, the eponymous son was a smarter man that had learned how to manipulate his family members?

Rather than blasphemy, the goal of the author of this short read appears to be a humanization of iconography. Even Jesus had a prostitute in his family tree. Rather than cover it up as religion in wont to do, what if it’s a lesson? What if it’s meant to bring empathy to the devotee? What if the real purpose of the Bible and religion is that no one is perfect but that we all do the best we can?

One point in [easyazon_link identifier=”B00FF0C9P4″ locale=”US” tag=”rabidreaders-20″]The Prostitute in The Family Tree [/easyazon_link] that I found especially poignant was that Adams encourages the reader to entertain the idea that good people can do bad things. I firmly believe that this is why celebrities get away with heinous crimes. We identify people with their public personas and if they have done good things we tend to automatically disbelieve their victims because this wonderful human could not possibly have done a bad thing. Good people do bad things and bad people do good things. We are not one-dimensional beings and none of us are fully known to our fellow man. A smiling face can harbor negative intent.

[easyazon_link identifier=”B00FF0C9P4″ locale=”US” tag=”rabidreaders-20″]The Prostitute in The Family Tree [/easyazon_link] is a light read landing at a 136-page count. If you’re looking for a fun, fast and informative read, pick this one up today.

Read an excerpt and buy The Prostitute in The Family Tree by Douglas Adams on:

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Douglas Adams was a professor of Christianity and the arts at the Pacific School of religion and died in July 2007. He was a post-doctoral Smithsonian Fellow in Art History at the American Art Museum in Washington D.C.

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