I didn't want to read this book. Recently I've become the type of evangelical Christian who finds everything about evangelical Christianity annoying. Christian bookstores in particular are at the top of my "Places I don't want to Deal with List" so you can imagine that I wasn't like "Hey, let's read this Christian Fiction Humor book" because, really? Christian.Fiction.Humor?
I had another problem too. My friend Matt wrote this book. I imagined myself reading it, hating it and then having to make up some comment that wasn't really a compliment but sounded like one. Something along the lines of "Ooh, the vocabulary was very... current."
Eventually though I decided that my endlessly fruitless anxiety about stupid things did not control me and I read the book. Thank goodness I did, it was hysterical, surprising, satiric and wonderful. A breath of fresh air in the world of "Christia books". So much "Christian" literature is of the self-help, how to succeed variety or the Sunday school lessons with easy answers variety. Imaginary Jesus is neither.
In this tale of epic silliness my friend Matt is the fictional main character whose battling a legion of "Imaginary Jesus's". Each of these Jesus is a projection of who we think/want/wish Jesus is. There is televangelist Jesus who heals you and wears a white suit and testosterone Jesus who believes in eating red meat everyday and going to men's retreats where you cry and promise that you'll be nicer to your wife. Hippie Jesus believes in peace while War Jesus believes in crusades.
The plot structure is genius. With each Jesus Matt takes a satirical stab at the multiple ways we make Jesus into the image we want Him to be, the underlying suggestion being that we prefer these Imaginary Jesus to looking for the real thing. Like the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down Imaginary Jesus fed me an important idea: over the past few weeks I've been wondering about my own Imaginary Jesus. What are the ways that I prefer Jesus to be because it's most convenient to me?
To say too much more would spoil some ludicrous and hysterical scenes so I'll stop right here. Matt's second book recently came out and in celebration of that Imaginary Jesus is being offered for free to those with e-readers. You can download a copy here.