Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos, a review
Published 2010 by Tyndale House, 225 pages
Genre: Youth group discussion materials for teens
This book is a long, entertaining yarn. The author characterizes it, tongue-in-cheek, in the middle:
“Wouldn’t it be great if someone wrote a sort of semi-autobiographical novel comedy thing instead of a Sunday school lesson for once?” (p. 177)
Matt Mikalatos writes a tale about himself as a seeker, hanging out with Jesus in a coffee shop. But “Pete” (the Apostle Peter) shows up and demonstrates that this is not the real Jesus; he is an imaginary Jesus. Pretty soon we find out that there are lots of imaginary Jesuses, as many as our idolatrous imaginations can cook up. Finding the REAL Jesus becomes Matt’s goal, although he continually sidetracks himself because he enjoys hanging out with his imaginary Jesus–after all, since Matt made him up, he has a lot in common with Matt!
One of my sons, 17 years old, was talking about zoning out in Sunday School recently. The book they are reading is a exegesis of something or other. I bet if they were reading this book, he wouldn’t be zoning out. He would get to discuss his own idols and what his imaginary Jesus might be like.
There’s a story in the yarn, too; Matt starts out a novice Christian, fretting over the problem of evil: why did his unborn child die?
The book is delightfully self-conscious; besides the sentence about “wouldn’t it be nice if,” there’s another about a strange coincidence happening “purely for plot convenience,” or something like that. It’s a lot of fun, full of truth, and peppered with laughter. It’s the perfect thing for my teen son’s Sunday school class.
The book trailer:
This post is part of the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy (CSFF) Blog Tour. If you’d like to know what others thought of this book, check out their posts:
R. L. Copple
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul
Rachel Starr Thomson