Every day I get a list of free or almost free Kindle books. Sometimes the whole list is a suck-fest, and other times you find a decent (or even good) book in the list. A few weeks ago "Imaginary Jesus" was in the list. The reviews looked pretty good, and it seemed like a really funny premis. It was free. What's to lose?
I just finished the book today and I really liked it. First of all, there aren't many times that a book can make me literally laugh out loud. I hee-hawed several times in this book. I'm sure that I missed several of the jokes, but I was able to get enough of them to have a very good time! The main character wants to find REAL Jesus. He realizes (through the Apostle Paul and a talking donkey) that he (and the world) has created lots of fake Jesuses, as a way to make him predictable.
This is fiction in the most real way...and in the most fictional way...at the same time. It's sort of like an irreverent Donte's Inferno. I think that non-Christians could read the book and enjoy it. I think that most Christians could read the book and enjoy it. The exceptions would be LDS folks and folks with very "reverent" Christian traditions. He pokes fun at almost all denominations, but devotes two chapters and one stinging comment to LDS folks. Really reverent/traditional Christians won't be able to stomach how he makes light of various Christian traditions.
I thought the whole thing was a barrel of laughs, until the end when I thought he had a lot of meaningful things to say, and painted a good portrait of "Real Jesus." In order to find Real Jesus he had to meet a whole lot of other Jesuses. There's Legalistic Jesus, Free Will Jesus, Angry Jesus, and Hippy Jesus. There's my personal favorite, Magic 8 Ball Jesus (who can only answer with 10 positive, 5 neutral, and 5 negative phrases), and Baptist Jesus (who lugs a huge bathtub around behind him). Throw in "Pete" (the Apostle Paul) and Daisy (a talking 1st century donkey), and you can see what a rousing good time is ahead of you!
Here are a few (I think) funny quotes from the book:
[Matt, the main character describes the 1st century.] "The first century smelled like what Christians call a 'men's retreat.' This is when men leave their wives and children for several days, go to the mountains, and yell at each other, 'Stop neglecting your wife and children!' The unique stench of a men's retreat comes from the close company of men at high altitude eating only beans, steak, and onions, combined with a lack of bathing and shaving. The entire first-century culture revolved around the men's retreate concept."
[Matt has been sent to look for Daisy and finds her to be a talking donkey.] "I assumed that Daisy would be a, uh, person." The donkey snorted. "Well, you know what assuming does."
Here are a few more serious quotes:
"The Bible is meant to be interacted with, not cut up on a table."
"When exactly is Jesus supposed to have a conversation with you?" "If he talked, I would listen" Daisy shook her head. "No, Matt. He is talking. You're not listening. You're trying to avoid him by filling up your every moment. You need to clear some of the static."
"Societal transformation can only come through personal revolution. Which only comes from the Holy Spirit. End of story."
If you have a Kindle, the book is still FREE for download. The author just released his second book, "Night of the Living Dead Christian." The first chapter for that book was at the end of the Kindle version. Eh. It didn't grab me in the same way, but that may be it's Halloween time and I really get sick of all that "stuff" this time of year!