Imaginary Jesus: The Book

So I recently started reading a book called Imaginary Jesus. It was written by a local Christian advocate named Matt Mikalatos and distributed for free on the Portland State University campus. As I read, I am highlighting the bits that stand out to me. As a proud atheist, it’s difficult for me not to see the material in this book in a cynical light, but I do what I can to maintain a fair perspective. Being a former Christian myself, this does all feel like familiar territory.

Judging from what I’ve read so far (the first six chapters), it’s a lighthearted and generally jovial book. It’s a fictional tale (self-described as a ‘sort-of-true story’ on the back cover) about the author chasing down a Jesus impostor through various locales and time periods with the help of the apostle Peter and, so far, at least one talking donkey. It’s obvious to me that this is a book that’s not meant to be taken too seriously. If not for the text itself, the cover art illustrates this point very clearly. I have to wonder though, who is the author’s target audience? Is it Christians looking for something light to read? Is it nonbelievers such as myself? Given the nature of the book, I’m much more inclined to say that it is the former rather than the latter, but I still wonder why the local chapter of Campus Crusade for Christ handed this book to me personally knowing full well that I am atheist. It’s a curious thing. I offered to meet with the representative who gave this book to me after I’m done reading it so we may discuss it in detail. I hope this can happen. If nothing else, it would be a good opportunity to have an intelligent discussion with someone whose views contrast with my own, which is always a good thing I think.

We will see.

UPDATE: 2/19/2011

Alright, I’m about 14 chapters in now, and it’s getting increasingly more difficult to continue. What I thought was a lighthearted book centered on Christian lifestyles is turning more and more into a steaming pile of trite bullshit. The humor is falling flat, the characters and plot are remarkably uninteresting, and the concepts are so far removed from reality that it doesn’t even feel fair to think of them as whimsical anymore.

I will continue to read this book through to the end. As much as I’d rather just set it ablaze and swat this literary mosquito, I will finish reading it. I said that I would, and I do my very best to be a man of my word.

The Saga of Preacher Dan

In May of last year, I recorded this video of one of Portland State University’s most notorious street preachers, commonly known as ‘Preacher Dan’. Here he is seen performing one of his customary confrontational preaching sessions, and two PSU students react in an equally confrontational manner:

Now it is February of the following year. Preacher Dan has not been seen on campus at all this academic year, and some of us who dealt with him more than the other students were becoming concerned. We knew of his personal troubles. We knew that he had been married and was the father of six children, and that his marriage ended on account of Dan’s… how best should I describe it? We’ll call it ‘excessive religious fervor’. So no word on the whereabouts or happenings of Preacher Dan for several months, and I started to hear rumors about him being in trouble with the law.

Then I found this news article: [link]

…and I damn near shat myself.

Here’s yet another lovely article detailing one of Daniel Lee’s earlier encounters with the law, this from back in 2003: [link]

ADDENDUM:

Here is a link to Dan’s Facebook site. Looks like he’s still pretty active on there, not to mention more than a little bit mentally unstable: [link]

UPDATE: 2/9/2011

Looks as though the police found him in Alaska. I kinda like the bit about how local police, state police and park rangers all teamed up to arrest him. [link]