If you know me, you know I like free books. I also like gadgets. So when Matt Mikalatos (Twitter link) tweeted that he was giving away digital copies of his book Imaginary Jesus, I thought, "What the heck? I'll check it out." I read the first chapter (Chapter Zero, for those of you keeping count), and I was hooked. In this fun combination of personal memoir, allegory, and fantasy fiction, Matt is at a yuppie vegan cafe in Portland with flesh-and-blood Jesus when a guy named Pete approaches and punches him in the face. Read the scene:
"That--" Pete pointed out the window at the racing back of my Lord--"that was an imaginary Jesus, my friend. And now that we're on to him, he's going to run."
I crossed my arms and frowned. "I've known Jesus for a long time. What makes you think that you know him better than I do?"
"Because," Pete said, heading for the door, "I'm the Apostle Peter."
I won't lie - this is a strange story. But it's brilliant. Matt's writing is in the same vein as C.S. Lewis in A Pilgrim's Regress, but not on the same level (sorry Matt - you're good, but not that good). But the story in terrific. With the help of the Apostle Peter, a former prostitute, a talking donkey, and Mary, Matt takes on his Imaginary Jesus, and battles it out with other Imaginary Jesuses in the process, to find the true Jesus of Nazareth and begin to really understand Christianity.
Other Jesuses we meet are King James Jesus (quite the strict one - "It was centuries before he even allowed New King James Jesus to exist."), Liberal Social Services Jesus ("He thinks the best way to tell people about God is through service, because he never talks about God. He's great to have around because he keeps the place spotless."), Conservative Truth-Telling Jesus ("He has no arms. He thinks the only way to tell people about God is through hard truth, and he never raises a hand to help people with their physical needs."), Magic 8-ball Jesus (who has twenty replies: ten positive, five negative, and five neutral), Perpetually Angry Jesus (apparently, he's the Calvinist Jesus that Mark Driscoll worships), Testosterone Jesus (a popular men's retreat speaker), and Harley Jesus. There are more, but you need to read the book.
And, great news. The book is free through the month of February, so check out Matt's blog and download a copy. I promise, you'll enjoy it.