Review: Imaginary Jesus

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When I first got my Kindle, I thought the free ebooks were awesome, and I regularly scoured the free list and looked up websites that also had lists of free books, and I pretty much downloaded them indiscriminately. That is how this book came into my possession. I needed to find a book whose author had the same initials as I do for the challenge, and there were two books with MM authors, this one and another. This seemed the most interesting, but I didn’t read a synopsis or anything.

So I began the book, and within the first chapter I was completely baffled. “What have I started reading?!” was my initial thought. The book essentially starts off as a guy, eating a vegan meal in a “communist” cafe in Portland, with Jesus sitting across from him, listening to music on an iPod. So you know, already I was caught off guard. Then a burly man comes in and strikes up a conversation with them, then accuses Jesus of being imaginary. A brawl ensues, with Jesus making an escape on foot. Then, the burly man introduces himself as the Apostle Peter and they take off after the escaped Jesus. There are talking donkeys, time travel, mysteriously appearing guys on motorcycles, and reformed prostitutes. And about 100+ “imaginary Jesuses”, all depicting different stereotypes of how people envision Jesus.

I think this would have been a great book if it had not been a novel. There were some good insights about Jesus and suffering, and about compartmentalizing Jesus and removing the context of the actual time that he lived in. But the fictionalized aspects were so nutty that it made me want to dismiss the whole thing altogether. A tube race down a snowy mountain, where two Jesuses need to battle it out theologically, until one is eaten by a bear? I wish I was making that up. And the ending went soft on real insights. It makes me cringe when people literally put words into Jesus’ mouth, too. He spends a chapter or two ragging on Mohammed and the Book of Mormon, when he essentially does the same thing. Yeah, he doesn’t set up a religion, but don’t smack talk “Conversations With God” if you are going to slip into the same narrative.

“Wouldn’t it be great if someone wrote a sort of semi-autobiographical novel comedy thing instead of a Sunday school lesson for once? Wouldn’t that be cool?” (Chapter 31)

Well, I guess you did it.

2 stars.

This book fulfills the book you own but have never read, and book written by an author with the same initials as you requirements for the challenge.

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