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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Night of the Living Dead Christian Book Review Day 3 — The Last Interlude

There are zombies among us. They stumble and move aimlessly, shuffling through life with nary a care about thinking deeply or pondering the magnificent majesty of God or pausing to scan the heavens that declare His glory. In “The night of the Living Dead Christian” Matt Mikalatos runs from these zombies but his real purpose for their existence in his story is far more than to frighten the reader. It is to show what most professing Christians are really like. In the second interlude in the book, the werewolf, Luther has this to say:

And so we return to my most pressing need, the desire for transformation, the burning passion to have a more manageable and less destructive nature. Of course, the Christians say they can help with that. Or God can. But I look at their lives and see far too many zombies. That is to say, they claim to have found a new, invigorating, abundant life, but I see little evidence that it’s anything but idle chatter.

Just today, I was visiting Mike Duran’s blog at www.mikeduran.com and his discussion of the newest phenomenon to hit the church, the “nones”. These are people who have walked away from organized religion and the church and although they seek God, they seek “transformation” they affiliate themselves with nothing, no one, no organization, thus they are called the “nones”. I am sure that they have seen more than there share of “zombies” in our churches, those mindless drones that show up every time the door is open and shuffle through the motions of going to church but never show any hint of joy or passion or love. I should know. I was once one of those “zombies”.

But, I wonder if in walking away from the church, that the “nones” aren’t being like Luther in that they are abandoning one form of zombie lifestyle for another? What can be more mindless than to sit hunkered away in your house avoiding the other “zombies”? Hmm, sounds suspiciously like the “vampire” in this book. Just food for thought.

And, here is the final thought we get from Luther:

 I say all of this to make one simple point: If that’s the abundant life, I do not want it. — It seems that Jesus’ own definition is alien to most Christians, who are satisfied that by signing their name on some creed they are somehow mystically associated with Christ. It is why I say with Mahatma Ghandi, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians.” Perhaps if they were more like Christ I would like them too.

All of this can be pretty much a letdown. The book is filled with zany, humorous moments and these interludes are the big downers; the return to reality. Is there any hope for Luther? Is there any hope for zombie Christians? Yes, there is. And, I will not ruin the final scenes of this book by spoiling the climax. It is powerful. It is redemptive. It is awesome.

All in all, “Night of the Living Dead Christian” is a powerful allegory of what most Christians are like today, including me. It is well worth the reading, well worth the laughter, and ultimately, well worth the tears of joy. Good job, Matt. Now go be with your wife and kids and put that chain saw away!!!!

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“Night of the Living Dead Christian”, the Awful Truth. Day 2 Review

The Interludes, Part 1 (Part 2 of the Book Review)

As humorous and hilarious as the chapters were in “Night of the Living Dead Christian” the Interludes were powerful and moving. It is in the Interludes that Matt Mikalatos brings home the goods. Here is an excerpt from one of the first interludes with the “werewolf” Luther Martin about his father, a pastor.

 

“My father’s inflexibility, his unpleasable nature, and the paucity of sincere affection all haunted my youth. But as Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote, “A man knows when he is growing old because he beings to look like his father.” I can look back now, and insights about my father’s nature and intention become clear to me. He did not intend to teach me theology at the expense of a relationship with himself, or for that matter, with God, though that is what he did. He did not meant to drive my brother out of the house or out of the church, but that is what he did. He did not mean to take his anger and grief about my brother’s prodigal lifestyle and use them to turn the screws on my own theological education, but that is what he did.”

Further on Luther says, “My entire life reflected on him, it seemed, and when I first learned the story of my poor brother, Marty, standing up in the middle of a service and declaring himself an atheist before walking out the door, never to return, I immediately envied him, understood him, and pitied him for his flamboyant dramatic streak.”

Matt goes on to uncover one of the most powerful truths about those who have chosen to be atheists in this revelation from Luther:

 “You ask me why I hate my father. I can only say that hate, loathing, disgust, all these words would be too strong to explain my feelings for my father. I have felt these things and moved beyond them to a sincere and placid lack of thought about him.”

Recently I had the opportunity to hear Frank Turek speak on his apologetic ministry. I was stunned when he said that when a person rejects God so many times and crosses that threshold into an area where God removes His forgiveness, then to that person God no longer exists. It’s not like God is still there hovering hoping for the person to change their mind. No, God removes His presence. God leaves the person alone which is exactly what that person wants! The person truly becomes an atheist because for him, God no longer exists!

I never thought of it that way but this idea comports itself with Romans 1. And, here, in this ditzy, crazy, monster filled book, Matt Mikalatos nails it! Dinesh D’Souza in his latest book, “Godforsaken”, says that atheists are really “wounded theists” hurt by someone, most likely their father. They look at God through the lens of the pain that was dealt to them in the name of God by their fathers.

Some readers may find the humor and rapid fire story of “Night of the Living Dead Christian” too much. But, it is worth the roller coaster ride just to pause and soak up the Interludes. Here, Matt reveals a powerful truth by “showing” not “telling”. The truth that we are often hurt by those who love us the most and in that hurt, we look at a loving God through fractured, splintered lenses. We see God as we see our flawed fathers and mothers and brothers and pastors and friends and sisters. We see God as someone we would just as soon have a “sincere and placid lack of thought about him.” Read those quotes again and then read the book.

Do you know someone who has walked out the door and away from God? If so, why not extend to them a loving hand; a helpful heart; an understanding that Matt extends to a lonely, hurt werewolf whose idea of God is that of a hateful, disgusting father. Sometimes when these questions arise, it’s not answers they seek. It’s understanding and connection and empathy. Tomorrow, I’ll talk about the ending of this book, not in detail to spoil it, but in substance to understand the most powerful Interlude.

Werewolves and Zombies and Vampires, Oh My! “Night of the Living Dead Christian” by Matt Mikalatos

I just put the finishing touches on the final edit for my next book due in October, “The 12th Demon: Vampire Majick” but the vampires in my book are NOTHING like the vampire in “Night of the Living Dead Christian” by Matt Mikalatos. I really enjoyed reading Matt’s fantastic “Imaginary Jesus” now renamed “My Imaginary Jesus” I guess to emphasize the difference between an imaginary Jesus and Matt’s psychologically challenged perception of “his” imaginary Jesus. I think it is much ado about nothing. But, these subtleties are important to someone in the publishing industry. And that is why I was so surprised to see this book with this intriguing title.

I mean to imply that most people who call themselves Christians are dead is pretty risky. Would you buy the book if you thought it implied that you were a zombie? I mean I KNOW I’m not a zombie. I don’t brainlessly follow the pastor of my church. I don’t eat brains, either, for that matter. I detest “sweetbreads” as they are sometimes called. But, I must admit after reading “Night of the Living Dead Christian” there may be a little bit of zombie in me. And, a little bit of vampire. And, a little bit of werewolf.

 And, that is the point of the book. Matt Mikalatos brilliantly takes these archetypes and projects them on the sad, lacking, failing Christian that typifies most, if not all of US! Mad scientists, androids, monster killers, vampires, zombies, and werewolves roam the pages of this book with abandon. With glee. With bloodthirsty zeal!

Zombies. They mindlessly track you down, slowly, inexorably until they overpower you and put earphones in your ears and a study Bible in your hands and pull you into the praise and worship service to listen catatonically to the pastor. This is an eerie depiction of mindless drones following and NOT thinking. As an apologist, I champion the thinking Christian and this comparison to a zombie is right on target. I was finishing up this book Sunday morning in our church’s coffee shop and I looked up and right there, not twenty feet away from me were at least a dozen zombies all dressed alike, all moving alike, all funneling into the sanctuary in their identical dresses and suits and . . . Need I say more? Zombies are the undead; the walking dead; the praying dead; the tithing dead; the dead dead! Read the book to see where these zombies came from and how they came to be.

Vampires. Wow, the violence depicted in the transformation of this woman into a “vampire” was shocking and out of the blue. But, it happens. It happens a lot and more than we in our churches want to acknowledge. The vampire sucks the life out of someone until that someone can’t exist unless they suck the life out of someone else. I can tell you that I’ve met my share of “emotional black holes” in the life of a church. These people are so needy and so smothering and a “good” Christian is going to try and help and end up getting their life sucked right out of them. This happened to me in 1995. After four years of running a drama ministry, I “died” and became a vampire sucking the life out of everything I touched until God drove a stake through my heart, laid me on my back and offered me a new life. Wow! Great comparison, Matt.

Werewolves. This is the heart of this book, a magnificent portrayal of the angry, restless beast that most of us try to keep at bay. My favorite parts of the book are the internal musings of the werewolf. Here is what he says in his moment of greatest despair:

“And here is the final evidence that we have invented God for ourselves. Who could love us other than we ourselves? No one. We have invented a being to love us despite our depravities.”

And, the “death” of the werewolf is one of the most moving scenes I’ve read in months. Don’t miss this book. It is strange; it is hilarious; but it is ultimately right on the money. Matt Mikalatos includes many facts and concepts bolstered by recent studies that should terrify the most stalwart Christian. Take a look in the mirror after you finish this book. You will be terrified by what you see!

Great job!!! Now, if I could just get one of those Clockwork Jesuses? Or is it Jesi?

*

Book link –  http://www.amazon.com/Night-Living-Dead-Christian-Ferociously/dp/1414338805/
Author’s Web site  –  http://www.mikalatos.com/

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

Participants’ Links:

http://ofbattlesdragonsandswordsofadamant.blogspot.com/  Gillian Adams

http://kinynchronicles.blogspot.com/ Julie Bihn

http://tessbissell.wordpress.com/ Red Bissell
http://www.oerkenleaves.blogspot.com/ Thomas Clayton Booher
http://www.AdventuresInFiction.blogspot.com/ Keanan Brand
http://rbclibrary.wordpress.com/ Beckie Burnham
http://morganlbusse.wordpress.com Morgan L. Busse
http://tweezlereads.blogspot.com/ Theresa Dunlap
http://www.amberfrench.blogspot.com/ Amber French
http://going-greene.blogspot.com/Tori Greene
http://www.thehahnhuntinglodge.com/ Nikole Hahn
http://realmofhearts.blogspot.com/ Ryan Heart
http://thequietpen.wordpress.com/ Janeen Ippolito
http://jessebecky.wordpress.com/ Becky Jesse
http://www.spoiledfortheordinary.blogspot.com/ Jason Joyner
http://carolkeen.blogspot.com/ Carol Keen
http://www.slygames.net/ Leighton
http://www.shannonmcdermott.com/?page_id=189 Shannon McDermott
http://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/ Rebecca LuElla Miller
http://linalamont.blogspot.com/ Nissa
http://www.bookwomanjoan.blogspot.com/ Joan Nienhuis
http://www.leastread.blogspot.com/ John W. Otte
http://justanotherbookbag.blogspot.com/ Crista Richey
http://www.sarahsawyer.com/blog Sarah Sawyer
http://www.chawnaschroeder.blogspot.com/ Chawna Schroeder
http://www.rachelstarrthomson.com/inklings/ Rachel Starr Thomson
http://christiansf.blogspot.com/ Steve Trower
http://frederation.wordpress.com Fred Warren
http://www.shanewerlinger.com/ Shane Werlinger
http://www.theravenquill.blogspot.com/  Nicole White
http://facesoflions.wordpress.com/ Dave Wilson

“Enemies of the Cross” will take your breath away!

It was almost a year ago that I had a visitor to my hotel room in the middle of the night; a visitor that was most unwelcome; a visitor from the depths of hell; a visitor from the imagination of Greg Mitchell.

I had flown to Orlando, Florida to visit Charisma Media while my wife was spending a week with her bridge girlfriends on the beach. I arrived late at night and settled into my dark and foreboding hotel room with only a few more pages left of Greg Mitchell’s “The Strange Man”. I finished the book and had that odd mixture of anticipation for the next book and a sense of fulfillment at the satisfying conclusion of a great story. Around two in the morning I awoke in the empty bed, suddenly aware my wife was not with me but somebody was definitely in the room! I glanced at the corner of the room and something moved in the shadows. Instantly, my mind flashed back to the strange man and his “gremlins”. I jumped out of bed, turned on all the lights and made certain the room was truly empty. Then, I said a series of prayers and finally managed to drift off to sleep.

The time has come to pick up the story of “The Strange Man” in book two of the “Coming Evil” trilogy, “Enemies of the Cross”. The latest book by Greg Mitchell picks up right where book one ended. I had scheduled a week off for writing on my fourth book and planned a trip to Austin, Texas to see our son and his wife. My wife and I stayed at Lakeway Resort and Spa on Lake Travis so my wife could have a relaxing “spa” week. I must confess, I did not get much writing done. In fact, I got very little done and it’s all Greg Mitchell’s fault! I started “Enemies of the Cross” and could not put the book down.

Each night, as I relaxed at the end of the day, instead of sitting down in front of my laptop, I picked up “Enemies of the Cross” and read until midnight. Fortunately, my wife was in the room with me and that helped keep the “gremlins” at bay. Now, I don’t want to provide any spoilers. To talk about the book is to give so much away. There are many surprises around each dark, shadowy corner and Greg Mitchell has set the reader up for the final book in the series. So, here are my five conclusions about “Enemies of the Cross”.

First, from page one, the story hits the ground running and never stops. There are pauses here and there for character development and to allow the reader to catch their breath. Once the darkness of the lake takes on a more human persona, the story moves with breathtaking speed. Greg Mitchell has set up one suspenseful scene after another and slowly builds the tension and suspense until I ached with anxiety. In a good way! I can tell that Greg loves a good monster story and the pacing of the action scenes keep the reader in “boo!” mode most of the time.

Second, this book focuses on Jeff Weldon, the brother to Dras, the main character in book one. Jeff is the pastor of the local church and Greg does a masterful job of taking Jeff down the slow and grinding pathway to self destruction. Jeff’s obsession with his brother’s fate endangers his church, his marriage, and ultimately, his life. Just as Stephen King took his main character in “The Shining” down the long, dark hallway to the nether regions of madness and violence, so does Greg take Jeff down, down, down into the basement of sin and fury and anger and self revulsion. But, along the way, Jeff has moments of redemption and moments of enlightenment and even manages to share the Gospel with a wayward soul Jeff has drafted into his cause. Does Jeff ultimately meet his doom? Or, does he find redemption? You’ll have to read the book to see what happens in the final conflict between Jeff and “the strange man”.

Third, Greg does so such a masterful job of creating monstrous creatures that pop off the page. He has a fine and delicate balance between describing the creature and leaving enough to the reader’s imagination. I had recently watched John Carpenter’s “The Thing” from 1982 and then the new “The Thing” that came out last fall. Greg Mitchell’s monstrous creations were every bit as terrifying as the images in those movies mostly because of my imagination. Yes, the presence of evil in “Enemies of the Cross” is well depicted and frightening and horrifying. But, the reader shouldn’t let that deter them from reading the book. Just read it with the lights on!

Fourth, “Enemies of the Cross” fills in some of the gaps in the story from the first book. Greg Mitchell left many of the details behind the history of Greensboro out of the first book, I am sure on purpose. He hinted that there was a power behind the sudden appearance of “the strange man” in the first book. In “Enemies of the Cross” Greg brings into the light, the secretive, power hungry entity behind the events that are taking place in Greensboro. He fills in bits and pieces of the history of the town and takes the reader down into the dark places beneath the town where the real evil dwells in service of “the strange man”. The “mythos” is deepened and fleshed out in a very satisfying way.

Fifth, “Enemies of the Cross” shows the corruptive power of sin and evil not only in the life of Jeff Weldon, but in the life of Rosalyn. Rosalyn was left at the end of the first book with the mystery of why Dras tried to save her. In “Enemies of the Cross”, she is still the focus of the strange man’s obsession and throughout the book, he continues to try to possess her. Does she give in? Does she fall to his seductive ways? You’ll have to read the book and find out.

Finally, I just want to say that the power of love shines through “Enemies of the Cross”. Jeff and his wife, Isabella, become increasingly estranged but their love is a triumphant power over the evil in town. And, ultimately, it is the realization that God is in control, even when things are darkest, that strengthens that love.

I recommend reading “The Strange Man” first, if you haven’t read it and then picking up “Enemies of the Cross” the minute you put the first book down. You will not be disappointed. Greg Mitchell has done a masterful job with his story, his “monsters”, and his devotion to the power of God in all of our lives. Now, I’m waiting anxiously for the “Dark Hour” to fall and to see what happens in the final book in the trilogy.

Can Christians Make a Difference Anymore?

I am stick to my stomach!

I am repulsed beyond repulsion!

I cannot believe what I read last week.

Two medical ethicists working with an Australian university have written a post in the Journal of Medical Ethics that if abortion of a fetus is allowable, so should be the termination of a newborn.

That’s right! If you missed your chance to have an abortion, then just have the newborn killed! And, we’re not even talking about throwing babies in the fire to worship Baal!

Here is more of what they said:

 “Alberto Giubilini with Monash University in Melbourne and Francesca Minerva at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne write that in ‘circumstances occur[ing] after birth such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible.’”

They want to change the name of such a “procedure” to “after birth abortion” instead of infanticide because it

“[emphasizes] that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus (on which ‘abortions’ in the traditional sense are performed) rather than to that of a child.”

You must read this article NOW at this link:

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/ethicists-argue-in-favor-of-after-birth-abortions-as-newborns-are-not-persons/

Why am I making such a big deal, other than the obvious reasons this is INSANE and WRONG?

We have seen the devaluation of human life before. When humans become mere chunks of flesh or “meat sacks” then we have lost our way as humans. We are indeed animals. No surprise here. Look what Paul said in Romans 1:

 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised.

Now, I have friends who are atheists, agnostics, evolutionists, naturalists, Muslims, and Hindus. I cannot imagine a single one of them condoning the killing of a newborn because the mother and father no longer desire to raise the child. This transcends world views! This transcends philosophies and theologies. If we, as a culture, condone killing newborn babies, then we, as a culture deserve to disappear; be destroyed; be cast down and ground under like dust. The killing of newborns is NOT an act of a civilized nation. And, any thinking person MUST stand up to this! We simply must! For if we don’t, then we are no better than those who killed 6 million Jews because they were deemed “inferior”!

But in doing so, beware. To take a stand on anything implies that we have an absolute value system about that issue. It makes the statement that there are transcendent values; moral values that cannot be made or destroyed by human agency. Our Declaration of Independence labels these as “inalienable” rights. The right to LIFE, LIBERTY, and the PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. Inalienable means a right that is transcendent and beyond human control. It CANNOT be taken away!

As published Christian authors, those of us who tell the Story of Truth can help to shape and mold public opinion. Writers have for centuries represent the forefront of cultural change mostly for the worse. But, we can do the opposite. We can write blog entries, essays, emails, Tweets, and, yes, stories that champion the kind of values that our culture has lost. We can be salt and light in the world, raising the beacon of Truth to a world steeped in darkness and evil. If we don’t speak up; if we don’t put into words our outrage over such changes in society, then God will hold us accountable for every letter, every word, every paragraph that was put forth for the world to see that failed to raise the light of Jesus Christ.

What do you think? What is our responsibility as followers of Christ? What can all of us, regardless of beliefs, do to help reshape a broken culture?

97 and Still Courting!

My father is 97 years old. He will be 98 in June. He still has a sharp mind. He just has NO filter! His favorite expression: “I’m 97 years old and due some consideration.” Meaning, “I can do whatever I please and say whatever I want.”

The other day my wife was driving the minivan with my father in the front seat and I was in the back when my father started talking about a young woman at the nursing home, a worker no less, who he is “courting”. When my wife challenged him with the question: “Courting? Just what do you think you are able to do with a 35 year old woman?” I put my fingers in my ears and started humming the theme from Indiana Jones so I wouldn’t have to hear the ensuing conversation.

I never expected to see my father like this. When my mother died in 2004, I thought my father would pine himself to death. But, within four months he had put his sights on “the prettiest woman I ever saw” at church, a “mystery” woman and decided he was going to marry her. She, of course, was never apprised of my father’s plan, thank goodness. He soon moved onto another woman thirty years his junior but lost her to a “younger” man in his 80’s.

The old adage is “old soldiers fade away” but in my father’s case, “old ‘lover boy’s keep on going”. And going. And going. And going! The administrator of our hospital where I practice also is the administrator of my father’s nursing home. He is well acquainted with my father and his ministrations to the ladies. There are 103 women to my one father! So, the administrator tells everyone in the doctor’s cafe about my father and calls him “Lover Boy”. My father loves it!

What is strange is that my father and mother were married for 69 years. They loved each other and doted on each other all their lives. When my mother’s health turned for the worse and her mind began to slip, my father waited on her hand and foot. She was his queen. So, I was shocked to see how easily he moved on to other women. He never did this in life. He was always a one woman man and never stepped out on my mother.

But, I guess now that he is a bachelor again, it’s time to court! I will one day write a book about my father’s waning days. It will be entitled, “When Daddy Gets to Heaven, Momma’s Gonna Give Him Hell!”. I already have a song written with those lyrics so don’t any of you get the idea to turn it into a country western song. It’s copywritten!

The reason I bring this up is because of this incredible video I just ran across about a woman who is 108 years old and a survivor of the holocaust. Watch it and rejoice that life can be so wonderful as long as we have the right attitude.

I know that at times I grow weary of my father’s antics, but he is larger than life and to be lauded for having so much energy and optimism at age 97. How many men his age are courting someone who is 35?

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