“You’re so afraid of your imagination,” Pete said. “You never use it for good things because you’re worried you’ll end up imagining something pornographic. You need to get control of yourself. The imagination can be purified like any other part of you.” -Imaginary Jesus
As some of you may know, on Thursdays I generally review a book. So when my friend the literary agent Wes Yoder sent me an email and asked if I would review a book for one of his clients on my blog, I of course said yes. After all, he said he would send me the book for free, and most of you that know me know I’ll do just about anything for a free book.
But I’ll also admit, although I’m not sure why, that I didn’t have high hopes for the book. I don’t read much contemporary fiction, much less contemporary Christian fiction. Isn’t most of that about the Amish? Or just really cheesy? It was a terrible underestimation of Wes, for which he will probably never forgive me (in which case he should reread Think No Evil, the book he represented for us about forgiveness).
ANYWAY, I didn’t read Wes’s email that closely, probably due to my elation at receiving a free book, so by the time the book arrived I had forgotten the title. But when I saw the package I knew exactly what it was and tore it open. Inside the padded, manilla envelope I found
Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos. That got my attention.
Hmmm. Sounds interesting. I read the back of the book, including the sentence: “That all ends when a fishy stranger walks in and PUNCHES JESUS IN THE FACE!”
That really got my attention. Even if the Jesus that got punched isn’t the real Jesus.
Matt takes a theological idea, that being our propensity to create imaginary Jesus’s that support our view of the world, and turns it into a flesh-and-blood adventure story with the narrator racing through Portland streets, tracking down the Real Jesus. The Jesus who lived and spoke and breathed and smiled. The Jesus who wants to mourn alongside you when this world tries to wrench the life out of you.
Still not convinced you should buy this book? Here are three more reasons:
1) Chapter One (which comes after Chapter Zero) has a chase scene where the narrator and Pete are trying to catch Imaginary Jesus. This is reminiscent of one of the greatest literary/spiritual chase scenes of all time which takes place at the end of GK Chesterton’s book The Man Who Was Thursday. If you like GK Chesterton, you should read this book.
2) About halfway through, Imaginary Jesus takes a turn from zany to the sort of reflective that feels a bit like a punch in the gut. A good punch in the gut. If you’ve experienced pain in your life, and it’s affected the way you view Jesus, you should read this book.
3) My wife and I are notoriously early-to-bed folks. If I see 10:00, it’s a rarity. But on the two nights I was reading this book I didn’t stop until well after 11:00pm. That’s right, PM. If you like well-written stories, books that make you want to keep reading, you should read this book.
Tune in tomorrow for a guest post by the author!