Cover Image: The Mantra of Jabez (Upturned Table Parody Series)

The Mantra of Jabez (Upturned Table Parody Series)

Douglas Jones (Moscow, Idaho: Canon Press, 2001)

Blurb Review


We've included this book here as the satire makes a serious point - good biblical theology both prevents abuse of the Bible and holds that satire is a valid tool in the armoury of responding to that abuse. And this book in particular makes very serious points about the need for a solid biblical theology of prayer and the Christian life. See Graeme Goldsworthy's comments about it in his "Prayer and the Knowledge of God" (Leicester: IVP, 2003), p.203, in the context of his (somewhat more sensible) analysis of Bruce Wilkinson's theological masterpiece.

Bruce Wilkinson's best-selling book, The Prayer of Jabez, is so popular with Evangelicals it just had to be bad. "A mixture of delightful mimicry, Swiftian-strength theological satire, and inspired silliness in the great Monty Python tradition, The Mantra of Jabez (subtitled "Break on Through to the Other Side") is a bracing tonic." John Wilson, Christianity Today

The "upturned table" in our series name points back to Christ's anger with the merchants in the temple. Our parody series isn't as concerned with money in the Temple as it is with what modern Evangelicals spend on abject silliness. Now you can't say that sort of thing or publish parodies without someone pointing out that you're no genius yourself. And we don't claim to be.

First, we see our parodies as sermons to ourselves before anyone else. For we too are responsible for the lame state of popular Evangelicalism today, even those of us who are from more classical Protestant backgrounds. We, too, exhibit some of the targets of our own barbs.

Second, we also don't claim to sit aloof, all clean and wise, looking down on others' silliness. We are a part of the Evangelical community ourselves. These are our brothers who write these things; they represent us too. We have no doubts about their sincerity and good-hearted goals and wonderful characters, but we all must do light-years better. The first response from many who love the books we aim to skewer is to be "wounded" and "offended," but that is the tiresome refuge of every little god who thinks blasphemy restrictions apply to him (oooh, notice the evil gender violation there). We all need to grow up and take the heat. But what about all those for whom these "precious" books have meant so much? One answer is that medieval folks could say the same thing about their relics. Relics made people feel warm and fuzzy too, but they were evidence of sickness.

Christian reality is a rich and fascinating blend of truth, beauty, and goodness. It is an exuberant love of life and light and celebration. Even with some of the glorious heights of Christian culture reached in prior eras, the Church still hasn't truly begun to plumb the magnificence of the Triune God. We're only scratching the surface, all the while non-Christian visions are perennially addicted to death. In order to mature, Evangelicals need to move beyond the bumper sticker shallowness of the past four decades and long for true wisdom. Parodying our silliness is one small nudge in that direction. To whom much is given, much is expected.

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