If you discovered that one of your neighbors was a werewolf, what would you do about it?
If you answered, “Move”, you are not Matt Mikalatos. He would decide to kidnap and cure the werewolf or, at last resort, kill him. Then – because silver bullets are so hard to buy and even harder to make at home – he would arm himself with a slingshot and silver quarters and go ambush his neighbor.
You are, I trust, more sensible than Matt Mikalatos.
Here I must make a distinction. Night of the Living Dead Christian is written by Matt Mikalatos and features Matt Mikalatos as a main character. Most of the book is written from his viewpoint. (The rest is written from the werewolf’s point of view.) I do not know what, precisely, is the difference between the author Matt and the character Matt; it is merely justice to note that the author might not, in fact, attempt to subdue a werewolf with a slingshot.
There are other characters who carry the names (and who knows how much else?) of real people. But it’s appropriate that some of the characters aren’t entirely fictional; the novel isn’t, either. In its largest idea, it’s an allegory. The werewolf in the man is the sin nature, the old self that must die. The imagery may be from horror movies, but the idea is Christian.
Night of the Living Dead Christian is also, as the title suggests, a satire. It’s actually a very funny book. Mikalatos makes fodder of much in our culture – the foibles of American churches, robots, mad scientists, monsters.
It is also a dressed-up theology book. The novel is a search for our healing, but the answer is not given as allegorically as the question. A pastor could splice together a pretty good sermon from these pages. What is unique is that the target of the sermon is equally Christians and non-Christians. Matt Mikalatos asks what it means to be transformed by Christ, and how we can be – and it seems as much a challenge to believers as a lesson to unbelievers.
I will dock points for this statement: “Hitler was firmly opposed to atheism. He claimed to be a Christian.”
In truth, Adolf Hitler disdained Christianity. His belief that the races were in a struggle was based on Darwin’s theory of evolution. That’s what all the talk about the great Aryan race was about: They were the fit to the unfit, and the triumph of the Aryan race over the Jewish race was the survival of the fittest. The truth of Hitler’s bloody philosophy has been too obscured. I fear that Night obscures it more.
I will also dock points for a small inconsistency. Matt is clearly portrayed as being knowledgeable about Christianity. He quotes Scripture from memory and casually uses the hefty, overwrought word transubstantiation. But somehow, he doesn’t know the story of the rich young ruler. Stranger yet, he fails to recognize the beginning of an exchange between Christ and a Pharisee – and then quotes the end of it.
Still, Night of the Living Dead Christian has many points left. It gives you much to laugh about and even more to think about. The characters, though generally strange, are generally likable, and thoroughly entertaining. Despite its comedic side, the story engages humanity’s deepest needs with great urgency and emotion. Not often do novels show so vividly that we must be transformed, and that we can be. Night of the Living Dead Christian challenges, teaches, comforts, and entertains. Try it and see.
Now – you knew it was coming – here are the links.
the author’s site;
the book’s Amazon page (buy it there!);
and the blog tour links:
Thomas Clayton Booher
Thomas Fletcher Booher
Morgan L. Busse
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Rachel Starr Thomson
In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
8 thoughts on “CSFF Blog Tour: Night of the Living Dead Christian”
Excellent post, Shannon. You always bring good insights. I’m so glad you liked this book for both what it said and how it said it.
“You are, I trust, more sensible than Matt Mikalatos.”
Shannon, this gave me quite a laugh. Thanks for the turn of phrase. You hit on one of my big struggles in the book, that I often found myself vacillating between Matt-the-idiot and Matt-the-actual-not-quite-an-idiot as I wrote the character and sometimes I missed the seams where those two joined together. It’s fair to dock points for that. 🙂
As for Hitler… I wouldn’t say he was a Christian, but he did claimed to be one. He spoke out viciously against Atheism, and of course many of his policies were damaging to the church in Germany and elsewhere. He also (more than) dabbled with the Occult. OF COURSE he was a huge fan of Eugenics. And yes, I have no doubt that he disdained and possibly hated the church, but that never stopped him from claiming to be Christian. Really, this was meant mostly at a jab at the Christians I run across who use Hitler as the ultimate proof of the depravity of Atheism. Using Hitler as an example of the failings of any moral or philosophical system is difficult, given that he was involved at some level in so many strange practices. Also, there are too many definitions of Christian that basically boil down to “if they claim to be Christian, they are.” Which means, of course, that we have a lot of historical “Christians” who don’t fit the demographic of what I think the word should encompass…
All of which is more than I said in the book, of course. But I agree with you. Hitler = bad. Let’s not have more like him.
Becky, thank you for your kind comment. Always good to see you.
Matt, I’m glad I could give you a laugh. And for the record, I always assumed that you, too, were more sensible than Matt Mikalatos.
Regarding Hitler, you make good points. He did claim to be a Christian, but I always took that to be a politician’s lie. I didn’t think Hitler himself believed it. He did articulate his philosophy, and Christianity really had nothing to do with it.
Darwinism had a lot to do with it. And because I think that gets ignored too often – and because I am tired of people associating Christianity with the Nazis, and the Catholic Church with Hitler – I jumped on the statement in your book. Sorry! It struck a nerve.
I don’t know if Hitler proves the depravity of atheism, but he does prove the depravity of Man without God. Once you reject God, all sorts of evil open up. Atheism can lead people into them. As someone once said: “If God is dead, everything is permitted.”
Matt, thanks for clarifying the remark about Hitler. As an apologist, I have to field the question about the danger of Christianity and Hitler is often thrown in with the Christians rather than the atheists. Even if you eliminate Hitler’s contribution to the deaths of the 20th century, atheist philosophy has still accounted for over 50 million deaths.
Good review Shannon and thanks for taking issue with the Hitler statement. I’m glad Matt replied.
I’m guessing the politician explanation for Hitler is accurate. http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1699/was-hitler-a-christian (hardly a bastion of conservatism) basically argued that.
I really liked this quote from that column, though.
“…my friend and source David Gehrig noted that Hitler still sets the gold standard for “easiest rhetorical cheap shot.” He related a comment from Usenet that there is an empirical law: As a Usenet discussion gets longer, the probability that someone in it will compare someone else in it to Hitler asymptotically approaches 1. In other words, atheists looking for a quick cheap-shot may claim Hitler was a Christian; similarly, Christians looking for a quick shot may claim he was an atheist.”
So when someone brings up Hitler, you know they’re desperate to make a point.
Good thoughts in your review; thanks!
Julie, Bruce, thank you for coming by. I appreciate your comments.
I followed your link over to the article, Julie. With Hitler so universally despised, it’s strange to be reminded what a successful politician he was back in the day. Thanks for sharing.