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.

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