I am broken and sobbing as I sit here before the bright and brilliant screen of my computer. It has been a hard summer and early fall. Health issues have clouded the sunny world I usually inhabit. Pain and fatigue have blunted my optimistic outlook on life. In the midst of the pain and crises of the past few months, there have been moments of rapturous joy. We finally closed the book on the cause of my daughter’s seizures and now, on a new medicine, she is finally blossoming and growing into the full person God intends for her to be. That alone should be enough to fill my cup with joy and thanksgiving. But, I am, after all, a Hennigan. My late brother once repeated a phrase from, of all places, HeeHaw (if that name means nothing to you, count your blessings!). “That Hennigan luck strikes again — if it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all!”
The rosy outlook I have on life is but a patina barely covering my pessimism and paranoia. I am always looking over my shoulder or waiting for the other shoe to drop. I can’t relax and just accept that God has finally answered my prayers for my daughter. What does that say about my reliance on God? God’s answered prayers just aren’t good enough? Isn’t it so typically human to focus on the bad at the expense of the good work God has brought to our life? When God delivers we are immediately grateful but then we, like Oliver, hold up our bowl and say, “Please sir, can I have some more?” When is God’s bounty every good enough?
I have had several brushes with death this summer. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t quite that bad. But, at the time, I wasn’t so sure. Crushing chest pain cannot be taken lightly. Sky high blood pressure isn’t something that will be cured with a couple of Tylenols. My poor wife has suffered through so much with me, with our daughter, and with her mother this summer. Through it all, she has managed to maintain a sense of total and complete reliance on God. She is fortunate to not have the Hennigan “luck”. I thank God for her every minute of every hour of every day.
Which brings me back to now. Here I am sitting before my computer. My co-author Mark Sutton and I have finished an update to our depression book. The cover has been chosen. The bios are adjusted to reflect the changes in our careers since 2001. The release date is set in stone. This is happening! Mark has completed his final edit of the book and sent it to me and now it waits patiently for my final ministrations. This should be one of the happiest moments of my writing career.
But, all I can see are the cracks in the cement. I am flailing away at my other book, “The 11th Demon: The Ark of Chaos” trying to get that book out before the end of the year. I am dealing with publicists and cover designers and editors. I am excited about the book. I think it is, hands down, the best book I have ever written. I am stoked about the message — the care with which God protects us from the enemy and his lies. The indisputable fact that God has placed His hand on us and has given His angels the charge of protecting our fragile state.
But, I also know the reading market has softened when it comes to these type of books. Maybe it is the glut of zombies and vampires and magic and fantasy in the world right now. Maybe Christians are tired of reading such Christian speculative fiction. I don’t think so. God is in the Story all around us. I have made sure God is in my story; my book. But, will anyone buy the new book? Will all of my hard work be for nothing? Am I just wasting my time and God’s time?
Such doubts haunt me. They make me pause as I begin to place my hands on the keyboard. These thoughts seize my mind; frigid now and cold in despair. Walk away, Bruce. You are a failure. This is a waste of your time. Go watch television. Go play a video game. Go eat something. Forget this fight against the enemy.
Do you feel my despair? Has this ever happened to you? Just when you are on the brink of massive success in the name of God, you give up and walk away?
Then, like a spark of warmth and light; a flickering ember of hope rose from the ashes of my perceived failure. I stumbled (Right! As if there are really such things as coincidences!) across Laura Story’s newest album. Her song, “Blessings” was a salve for our wounds when we were dealing with our daughter’s illness. There in the list of songs on her newest album was a simple title, “He Will Not Let Go”. I clicked on the song in iTunes and listened — and wept! Here are the lyrics:
It may take time on this journey slow
What lies ahead, I’m not sure I know
But the hand that holds this flailing soul
He will not let go
There may be days when I cannot breathe
There may be scars that will stay with me
But the deepest stains, they will be washed clean.
And He will not let go.
When all around my soul gives way
He then is all my hope and stay
When grief has paralyzed my heart
His grip holds even tighter than the dark
I’ve heard it said
This too shall pass
The joy will come
That the hurt won’t last
So I will trust
That within His grasp
I am not alone
For He will not let go
Go to http://www.laurastorymusic.com and purchase this new album RIGHT NOW! Listen to every song; every word. For here in this song, God has brushed away my pain and my sense of failure. God’s light chases away the dark, smothering lies of the enemy. God shows me in the struggles and triumphs of another believer’s life that I too can be victorious over this moment of paralysis.
And so, I put my hand to the keyboard.
I put my mind to the task of putting BOTH books out there. Someone needs to hear the message God has placed in the simple words of this broken man; this sinner saved by grace who is walking a path he never chose to walk.
Each word I type, each thought I convert to words on this page; each drop of blood that falls from my wounds leads to the foot of the cross — to my Savior. When I feel gravity grip me and the fall is coming I stop for a moment suspended in doubt and I close my eyes and I see the nail scarred hand reaching out and taking mine in its terrible but powerful grip and I remember with tears in my eyes and endless gratitude in my heart that He will not let go!
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!!!!
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.
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