Imaginary Jesus is an excellent book with a power-packed message. The book begins with the main character, Matt, sitting with Jesus in a vegan restaurant. Matt is content with his life and his Jesus. Then a man named Pete comes into the restaurant. Pete speaks to Mike and to his Jesus, asks a few questions, and then promptly punches Jesus in the face.
As it turns out "Matt's Jesus" is actually an "Imaginary Jesus". Matt has a relationship with a Lord of his own creation, and not the Lord Jesus Christ himself. Pete is actually the apostle Peter. Pete leads Matt in his quest to both confront and reject his imaginary Jesus, as well as discover the true Jesus Christ. Along the way, Peter enlists the woman at the well (Sandy) and a donkey named Daisy to help guide Mike in his holy quest.
The story is crazy, imaginitative, improbable and irreverent. It moves from Portland to Vancouver, from Vancouver to the Holy Land at the time of Jesus, and then back to Vancouver and Portland again. Along the way, the crew meets up with ghettos and high rises full of imaginary Jesus'. Some of the imaginary Jesus' are amusing (Testosterone Jesus and King James Jesus), others are more serious threats (Political Jesus and Meticulous Jesus). Then, they also meet the mormon elders named Elder Laurel and Elder Hardy.
Clearly, the whole book is an excellent commentary on all the ways we create idols within Christendom through the medium of a novel. At one point, the reader is laughing at how other people misuse Jesus for their own agenda. Then, suddenly, it becomes obvious that the author is speaking about the reader's Imaginary Jesus, and it hurts a little bit.
I liked this book. I laughed a lot. I nodded a lot. Once in a while I wondered out loud.
There were parts of the book that were difficult to read. The third quarter of the book dragged a little bit, and by the end of the book I was eager to see the plot resolved. The author is witty and has lots of potential, but he does need to work at making his plot and his writing a little tighter.
Imaginary Jesus an easy book to get sucked into, and it moves along pretty well. I started the book in the late afternoon, and had it done that evening. I would recommend Imaginary Jesus both for people who like irreverant Christian literature, for those who like to see theology and fiction intersect, and for those who enjoy an entertaining caper for a short escape.
(Tyndale Publishers provided this book to me in exchange for my review of the book. It was not necessary for me to provide a positive or negative review)