Todd & Jedd Hafer,
Mischief from the Back Pew
(Bethany House, 2003)

Born-again Christians may represent nearly 40 percent of the adult population in the United States. To many of us, it seems as if they live in an alternate universe. They have Christian music, the wildly popular Left Behind novels, their own television networks and, from the way things are going, George W. Bush all to themselves.

They also seem to have their own version of humor, an example of which is Mischief From the Back Pew.The two author brothers are definitely Christian -- one of their other books is titled In the Chat Room With God. The book reviewed here is a sequel to Snickers in the Front Row, both works based on their lives growing up as the sons of a minister.

I confess that I am bemused by this book, so I am sharing some shorter examples of the humor to let you judge it for yourself.

From Christian television commercials we hope we never see: "Hi, I'm Ben-Hur. You know, those full-contact chariot races can be hard on the old bod. That's why Ben-Hur uses Ben-Gay. It soothes my aching muscles and makes me feel warm and tingly all over. It is truly the balm of balms." This chapter also includes Samson pitching for "Samsonian" luggage and Noah doing a laxative commercial.

To satirize a "Church of Elvis," the brothers ask "What Would Elvis Do?" -- a twist on the popular WWJD question. The answers include: "Eat a bucket o' fried chicken until he passed out, Shoot a TV set, Lots and Lots of Drugs, Sweat Profusely, Really Bad Movies and Die on a Toilet." Actually, a few of those lines seem distinctly un-Christian.

The brothers also mention, of course, that Elvis is not the REAL king.

There is also a chapter about the ever-popular "Bulletin Blooperz," which have been making the rounds for decades. An example: "Bertha Belch, a missionary from Africa, will be speaking tonight ... hear Bertha Belch all the way from Africa." Others are about the brothers' pets and their brushes with the law, the latter reminding you of The Andy Griffith Show.

If you need a gift for a fundamentalist friend and have $12.99, this book might be for you. For myself, I find TV evangelist John Hagee to be much funnier than the brothers, and he is not even trying.

- Rambles
written by Dave Howell
published 26 June 2004

Buy it from