Thanks, first, go to Derek for my copy of Imaginary Jesus, by Matt Mikalatos. So far, this is the highlight of my reading gained through his summer giveaway. In fact, I think this was my favorite read of 2010 (yes, I’m behind in reviewing it…). I liked it so much the first time, I turned around and read it to my wife! (Rereading it helped me see richly layered humor that I missed the first time through. For instance, for the careful reader, there are a number of popular movie references that come out…)
Imaginary Jesus is a quasi-fictional first-person narrative, similar in this sense to Andy Andrew’s The Noticer, but so much better. The back cover says it well: “In this hilarious, rapid-fire, sort-of-true story, Matt Mikalatos takes you on a wild ride through time, space, and Portland, Oregon, in his quest to find the real Jesus, destroy all imposters who stand in his way…and finally get an answer to the question that’s haunted him for years.
It is an emotional roller-coaster. I laughed out loud, I had a pain in my gut as I shared in Matt’s emotional bewilderment. I had moments of deep thought as I grappled with theological topics that were presented in fresh ways – often with no pat answer or easy resolution. Matt is great at writing believable conversations, and does a good job breaking readers out of their twenty-first century mindset to grapple with the experience of Jesus and his disciples as recorded in scripture.
This book aims at the realization that we often create a comfortable “approximation” of Jesus in our own mind. One that is comfortable, less-demanding, culturally relevant, etc. One that is remarkably like us, and under our control. And this approximation changes over time. We can look back and see how we might “outgrow” an older false approximation, only to miss the failures inherent in the current approximation. So the question is, why do we do this? And how can we get past this?
At the heart of the action is an emotionally devastating event in Matt’s family’s life that has caused him to hold the real Jesus at arm’s length, resisting his legitimate call on his life. The book is a journey towards addressing that issue, one that does not offer pat answers, but a God who is truly worthy of worship and relationship.
I give this book ★★★★★. Get it. Read it. You deserve a good, well-fought for smile.
A not-quite-true story…
Author: Matt Mikalatos
Soft Cover, 240 pages
Publisher: BarnaBooks / Tyndale House Publishers