The next book I have reviewed for the christianaudio Reviewer's Program is Imaginary Jesus written and narrated by Matt Mikalatos. As should be obvious, I did receive a free copy from christianaudio in exchange for reviewing it. As followers of my blog know, my other reviews of their works have been less-than-stellar (I wish they'd choose other options for review because they have a lot of great texts, er audio). So this positive review should emphasize that this is not an over-inflated review due to getting a free audiobook. :)
Imaginary Jesus caught my eye due to the title and the synopsis. It looked creative and in my interest area because of the idea that we have constructed a Jesus in our minds that clouds the real Jesus. That is precisely what this book discusses, but not in such a bland and boring way as I just described it.
Mikalatos (who does an excellent job narrating--I particularly love when authors narrate their own works, especially when they are of such a personal nature) does a very creative job tackling (sometimes literally) his imaginary Jesuses, guiding us through his imagination in what many ways makes this book feel like a novel. I must say that about an hour or so into the book, I got a bit bored with the Jesuses, but this gave way to appreciation. Without these descriptions, the final chapters, which were more propositional (although not terribly explicit), would not have been as powerful. The chapter, "Holy Mother of God," was particularly moving, I thought. I don't want to give too much away because the process of moving through Mikalatos' imagination is part of the power of the book.
In many ways, this reminds me of the mystical texts that some of the saints used to describe their inward journey to meeting Christ. Mikalatos takes a more humorous approach. However, it is funny because it is terribly accurate (in particular, I loved the Secret Society of Imaginary Jesuses). He does an effective job of crafting a modern mystical experience that is at once both individually contemplative and communal.
Further, I realized toward the end of the book that this is a perfect example of describing God image. This refers to the construction of God we have created and with which we interact. It's a natural psychological phenomenon everyone does with anyone with whom we relate. It can be a hard concept to understand, but this book makes it much more understandable.
In sum, I highly recommend this book. I'm not sure how it would be in written form, but the audiobook is excellent. In many ways, I the audiobook may be better if for no other reason than the author reads it himself. That conveys a message no written text ever could.