Thursday, May 28, 2015

Book Review: God Is for Real Man

Title: God Is for Real Man
Author: Carl F. Burke
Date: 1966
Publisher: YMCA
ISBN: none, but click here to see it on Amazon
Length: 128 pages
Quote: “Feeling sorry only takes up time when you could be shining shoes to earn money to get the things you covet.”
Now forgotten, God Is for Real Man sold well in its day. My copy is a “Seventh Printing—April 1967”; The First Printing took place in February 1966. Carl Burke, a chaplain at the county jail who also taught children’s classes, got middle and junior high school students to translate Sunday School lessons into contemporary slang. At the time the results were undoubtedly hailed as meaningful and relevant, and probably creative.
Nothing dates faster than the latest fad; by now God Is for Real Man is a nostalgia trip for middle-aged people, some of whom may remember the Sunday School take-homes it inspired, years later, that encouraged us to study the weekly lesson with “Rap with us!” As late as 1977, like, these crazy Sunday School books were written in the slang of 1966, get it? (My parents always replied, “No, I/we do not ‘get it.’” My parents still tolerated and occasionally said “dig.”) Somebody out there figured that was the way we talked. It wasn’t. Slang changes from year to year and also from place to place, and there were times I didn’t even get the slang in which the lessons were written.
However: Sammy Davis said he loved this book.
Also: these kids were very much aware of men they called “queers,” and although for obvious reasons they’d been taught about these men primarily as dangers to avoid, there’s an authentic Christian touch in the paraphrase of the story about the selfrighteous type who thanked God that he was better than other people “like queers and” various others. 
If you’re looking for some short paraphrases of Bible stories and teachings into authentic 1960s slang, you’ll enjoy this book. And if you’ve bought into the media myth that the 1960s were a period when everybody was in college and concerned primarily with love (sleeping around), peace (avoiding military service), and joy (or at least marijuana),  read God Is for Real Man to find out how those who weren’t in college were thinking, talking, and living. 

Carl F. Burke is no longer living, so this is not a Fair Trade Book. It is, however, a pleasure to read and remind people of. To share the pleasure, send salolianigodagewi @ yahoo $5 per book + $5 per package for shipping. (Scroll down. You can fit a Fair Trade Book, probably more than one Fair Trade Books, into the package for the same $5.)