Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Monsters Within - A CSFF Tour Special Report

We've come to the darkness.

I've challenged people if they have what it takes to read Night Of The Living Dead Christian. I've explained the book (as best I can) and asked people to share their inner monster. What is the point of all of this monster lore, and how does it relate to Christianity?

Matt Mikalatos wrote a funny book to make the medicine go down better. He's a smiling Mary Poppins. But we need to see that as Christians, we often have a monster form that we take.

What is a monster? Generally it is anything outside of the norm for a creature. Whether it is a cross of types (like a werewolf or Sasquatch) or a perverted form (vampire, zombie), it is a recognition that something is not right. The person is not who they seem to be.

How many Christians can attest to the fact they don't live up to the transformed life that we are supposed to have in Christ? How many of us are comfortable admitting that even though we have the Holy Spirit dwelling with us, we wrest control and try to make our lives something of our own?

We live in delusion if we don't see that there are monsters we each battle.

Matt manages to use this as an allegory on helping us to find transformation in the blood of Jesus, and nothing more.

The zombies in his story are Christians who have mindlessly followed a leader and have no life in themselves, thus becoming undead. The vampire Lara was wounded by her ex-husband so much that she had to start stealing life from others to feel alive. Luther the werewolf realizes that he has an animal side with lusts of the flesh he can't control. One of the tragic moments in the book is when Luther dresses up very nice and meets with his estranged wife. Only his tail is showing, his teeth are long, and his fur has to be brushed. He tries to accept the wolf part of him and dress it up as acceptable.

Needless to say, it doesn't go well.

How many of us have tried to deny the animal desires, only to fail when we are tired, stressed, or challenged by a strong temptation?

Thus the monster motif is a perfect vehicle for challenging Church, Christians, and ultimately ourselves. Before I read Night I preached a sermon last October called "Escaping the Zombie Life." In going for a catchy opening, I ended up using a zombie theme throughout the message discussing how Paul identifies our struggles to be holy in Romans 7, and how dying to ourselves and walking in the life of the Spirit in Romans 8 is the answer if we can remember to die each day. Matt takes a similar idea and runs with it in a way that convicts and entertains.

This book is not for everyone. People need a certain sense of humor to really get into it. It fits me to a tee, but someone who has a different humor or are too serious may not appreciate it. It appeals to a younger demographic that is used to The Walking Dead and the Twilight phenomena, but that doesn't mean older people can't enjoy it. It is a novel, but not quite. It is a spoof-y (is that a word) Pilgrim's Progress.

It is a book that has a powerful message in a tortilla wrap of fun (it is close to lunch, sorry).

And for those who commented yesterday in my monster quiz and want to know what kind of monster I am? I'm part mad scientist/part cyborg with a little dash of lyncanthropy for some zing. I can trust too much in my intelligence, I can be cold to what people feel at times, and I can't always keep the beast tamed on my own.

It is not fun to admit, but it does help me recognize that I have a need for a Savior that does not end with a prayer or by Sunday perfect attendance. It is daily saying to Jesus, as Matt's werewolf friend does in the book, "I am Your servant."

There's more at Becky Miller's blog, where she updates all posts for the tour. Hurry on over and see what others are saying.

Also, I should disclose that I was sent a review copy from the publisher. Any and all silliness is solely my own.


  1. Great post, Jason.

    I only disagree with you on one point: those people who don't have the sense of humor to enjoy Matt's book are probably some of the ones who most need to read it! ;-)

    I think it's brilliant when an author can say so much truth in such an entertaining way.

    And thanks for coming clean with us about your own monsters. I suppose Sin is the sum total of them all and there might be a bit of them all in each of us. Thanks be to God for His grace and mercy.


  2. No, you're probably right Becky. The humorless could sure use some Mikalatos therapy!

  3. Jason, you're officially the first to refer to me as Mary Poppins. I LOVE the movie version of that story... weird, borderline surreal, hilarious and a musical. I am so in love with it.