Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Night of the Living Dead Christian by Matt Mikalatos

Night of the Living Dead Christian, by Matt Mikalatos is a hybrid between a horror satire and a book on biblical spirituality. Don't be fooled by the comic book styled graphics on the cover, and its bright green block letters and cartoon zombies- this book has a relevant message for young and old alike- as well as secular and religious readers. Underneath the satire and humor, the author presents a sombering message about hypocricy and divisions among so called Christians and churches. 

These days, I don't know who hasn't hasn't heard of zombies- they are the subject of many horror movies, TV shows, and apparently Christian literature as well. Yet, the analogy between zombies, warewolves, vampires and other monsters is obvious, even though it has been overlooked! Really, this books asserts that people are in fact no different from the personification of a warewolf, zombie or other horrible creature- the undead- physically alive,technically, yet dead, spiritually- alive in the form of a body, breathing, walking, existing- yet dead in spirit. Yet in an ironic twist, the self- aware, humble warewolf hero, is portrayed as more human, and more honest than the typical, hypocritical, self professed Christians that are so common.Mikalatos basically sums up Paul’s new testament teaching on false teachings, hypocrisy and faith without specifically referencing Paul’s letters. Even Paul in his New Testament letters points out that Christians often are their own worst enemy in turning other people away from God. Simply read through the vices of the unsaved. The analogy and correlation between those who are unsaved with zombies and warewolves makes a sense- and it is in a format that can be easily understood and enjoyed by Christians and secular readers, as well as older and younger readers alike.

"As for you, don't you remember how you used to exist? Corpses, dead in life, buried by transgressions, wandering the course of this perverse world. You were the offspring of the prince of the power of the air- oh, how he owned you, just as he still controls those living in disobediance. I'm not talking about outsiders alone; we were all guilty of falling headlong for the persuasive passions of this world; we all have had our fill of indulging the flesh and mind, obeying impulses to follow perverse thoughts motivated by dark powers. as a result, our natural inclinations led us to be children of wrath, just like the rest of human kind." Ephesians 2: 1-3 (the Voice NT

Matt Mikalatos challenges some common misconceptions that many readers may have about the concept of Christianity through the story of an enlightened warewolf in the midst of a spiritual battle. The warewolf, seeking relief, has amazing insight and clarity that one would not expect to see from such an untamed, wild creature. The warewold himself is the one who points out the sobering reality that many who claim to be Christian, aren’t really Christian on page 53 when he states “If claiming to be a Christian meant personal transformation, our world would be a far different place. As it is I know far too many Christians who are worse men as Christians then they were as pagans”. It also is pointed out that many religious churches and institutions are really impediments to true faith. For example, he challenges the notion that just because one says he or she is a Christian doesn’t mean that they are. He points out the divisive and cultic nature of some well known denominations and contrasts them with the true spirituality of the bible. He makes fun of those bookworms, who hide behind complicated theology and thick, expensive study bibles, pointing out how works and appearances are not enough to save. At one point, Matt adresses the controversy over translations- literal vs paraphrase, when Matt and the warewolf are arguing over what translations is best. During the debate, they are adminished by another character, Hibbs, who states "The fact is, all those translations are the scriptures.  They have different styles and different purposes.....you should stop fighting over translations so much that itprevents you from reading the scriptures." page 179.
Another popular cultural icon, the vampire, (especially in light of the Twilight series), is used as another analogy in this story.  Mikalatos challanges the romantic notion of the vampire and portrays the concept of the vampire for what it actually is- the representation and personification of selfish greed and ambition at the expense of others.  Using a fictional vampire named Lara,  to communicate the truth of the human condition, vampires are redifined as not only fictional, yet  literal creatures that such blood, but as anyone who profits or gains through the manipulation of others.  "You don't have to suck blood to be a vampire", she explains on page 140. "It's a question of selfishness, of putting yourself and your needs ahead of people around you."  Based on that definition of vampire, then most people today can consider themselves to be vampire-like.  The theme of monsters, zombies and warewolves is simply a platform that the author uses to communicate the problems that are wrong with luke- warm, modern Christianity and churches, and people in general for that matter. The quest to save a warewolf, mirrors the quest to save people- or all of us-  from false, hypocritical and ineffective religion in favor of the true salvation offered by the good news of the gospel message.

The book itself includes many added bonuses: an author interview, discussion guide and even a mini handbook to the various monsters and undead creatures. The rejected titles included at the back of the book is entertaining in of itself. The monster handbook, titled, “Are You a Monster: A Layman’s Guide to Common Monstrosities”, lists some creatures such as warewolves, Vampires and Zombies. It also adds mummies, which according to the guide, are normally found in their habitats which include long established ministries. Which of course is a reference to hypocritical, ineffective and rigid religion which bears little resemblance to the biblical truth of the gospel message. This book is sure to appeal to a wide audience, and it is a unique format for outreach to may who would not normally read a spiritual book.

As a blogger for Tyndale publishers I received this book for the purpose of writing this review.

If you enjoyed this review, or if you would like more information, you may wish to visit the following sites:
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SPECIAL GIVEAWAY- Please comment on this review.  A random winner's comment will be chosen to win  a certificate for a copy of Matt's book. If chosen, you will be contacted.

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