The Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos

I found out about Imaginary Jesus from the Tyndale Blog Network.  I received my free copy and promptly read the book. But I only manged to post anything to Goodreads. So I wanted to rectify that and offer my take on this book in this space in a more formal way (at least slightly).

Here is the basic plot (cribbed from the publisher’s blurb):

When Matt Mikalatos realizes that his longtime buddy in the robe and sandals isn’t the real Jesus at all, but an imaginary one, he embarks on a mission to find the real thing. On his wild ride through time, space, and Portland, Oregon, he encounters hundreds of other Imaginary Jesuses determined to stand in his way (like Legalistic Jesus, Perpetually Angry Jesus, and Magic 8 Ball Jesus). But Matt won’t stop until he finds the real Jesus—and finally gets an answer to the question that’s haunted him for years.

As you might be able to tell even from this short synopsis, the book walks the fine line between slapstick comedy and insightful spiritual commentary – and in my opinion manages to pull it off for the most part.

Mikalatos has a lot of fun with his spiritually themed romp but the issue of how Christians create imaginary Saviors in order to avoid dealing with the real Jesus is worth exploring. The author touches on some rather profound and emotional issues but never gets too heavy or loses the rhythm of his largely comic story.

I don’t think Mikalatos offers any startling insights or deep perspectives. Instead he simply creates – based in part on his own experiences – humorous and thought provoking examples of how we try to pigeon hole or caricature Jesus.

Imaginary Jesus is a quick and chuckle inducing read but one with a valuable lesson at its core.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

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