Following 2001’s popular Gospel According to the Simpsons, three more pop-culture phenoms have spawned spiritual study guides. To some, the trend is a godsend. ”Jesus used sheep and vineyards to tell lessons about everyday life,” explains tuned-in pastor David Limiero of Illinois’ Naperville Christian Church. ”I’m using Harry Potter.” Asked if The Sopranos could teach anything divine, Tony Sirico (a.k.a. Paulie Walnuts) said, ”Make sure you’re looking good. Make sure you’re respectful. And make sure you make a few dollars on the way.” Here’s a rundown of these good books.
— THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO HARRY POTTER by Connie Neal (Westminster John Knox Press) The Word Potter is a hero in the battle of good and evil, routinely placing his friends’ welfare before his own. Sample Sermon Luke 10:18 says Satan was cast from heaven ”like a flash of lightning,” and Harry’s lightning-bolt scar is a reminder that good will prevail. Revelation Even Muggles can have morals.
— THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO TONY SOPRANO by Chris Seay (J.P. Tarcher-Putnam) The Word Seay says everyone is tempted by money, sex, and power: ”There’s a little Tony Soprano in all of us.” Sample Sermon Tony — a ”King Solomon from New Jersey” — finds that indulging his demons does not quiet them. Revelation Was Solomon also fond of baked ziti?
— THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO J.R.R. TOLKIEN by Ralph C. Wood (Westminster John Knox Press) The Word In a 2003 tome, Wood reinterprets Frodo’s adventures in The Lord of the Rings as Bible tales. Sample Sermon The ring-chasing monster Gollum represents the pitfalls of valuing possessions over people. Revelation The meek shall inherit Middle-earth.