Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Evangellyfish, a web-book by Douglas Wilson

If The Hammer of God, was serious (and excellent) Christian fiction, Evangellyfish is funny and light-hearted Christian fiction. It's not a book that will challenge the core of your faith and drive you to seek God more, but it is certainly funny, and gives an open and critical look at evangelicalism (the more American kind) and pokes fun at itself along the way.

Note, though, this is a web book. You can only read it on-line. The bonus of that of course is that it's free! The dud about it is that it's done as a blog, so you have to go the bottom of the page to find the earliest sections. I suggest you do what we did - and copy each post in order into a word document (minus the blog comments!) to make your own readable book, and print it out.

So you have an idea, this is what the book is about:
John Mitchell is the pastor of a small, modestly successful Reformed Baptist church in a city in the Midwest. Chad Lester is one of the most successful pastors in North America, and he is the leading light at Camel Creek Community Church in the same city. He is, speaking in theological terms, a dirt bag. ... the real issue is that he [Mitchell] is peeved that Lester appears to be blessed by God for being a creep, and he, Mitchell, struggles in obscurity for being faithful. But of course, Mitchell is faithful, and Lester is a creep, and the reader is not surprised that Mitchell can’t see it. None of us would if we were in his place.
When Lester is falsely accused of the one rotten thing he didn’t do, and his ministry starts to implode, John Mitchell is dragged into it much against his will, All this said, Evangellyfish is not really a dark comedy, but rather a medium brown comedy. In some sense, it is a satire on a world that defies satire. (from the 'about' page on the website)

Wilson has obviously spent time in churches and knows what he is talking about, and this book is both very funny and insightful. He makes some excellent and biting observations about various aspects of Christianity, church and society. Here are a selection for you:

the perception of various theological points:
The other elders of the church were gazing steadily at the pastor. About half of them knew about him and his hormonal hobbies, but the problem was that they knew these facts through their very similar activities with some of the same women—women who happened to be talkative in bed. We all struggle with temptation. Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven. And some of the indiscretions had been forgiven for years now. True, some of the others had only been forgiven for weeks. And others were still ongoing, with requests for forgiveness not yet entering the picture. But still. That doesn’t affect the theology of the thing. They would be forgiven eventually. (Chapter 2)

church music:
At 7:30, on the dot, the lights went down, and the words of a song flashed up on both screens. The band moved seamlessly from their jam into the new song, as tight as a back-up band for Springsteen on a good night. The assembled congregants began to sing, or so the two men guessed from the fact that words were on the screen, and people’s mouths were moving, but the amplified music from up front had all of them buried. Bradford had been to one or two concerts like this in his life before, but Rourke felt like he was under an acoustical rock pile. (Chapter 4)

reformed churches and their ministers,
Pastor Mitchell had been in 2 Corinthians for two years now, and was only in chapter seven. This, compared to his predecessors, made him a speed demon, and the only reason he was going as slowly as this was that he kept getting distracted by pastoral needs, and he kept turning aside to use the text to encourage people.

This was a novelty, and given the history of the church, he might not have been able to get away with it had his personal appearance not been just right, providing a certain amount of camouflage. He was a regular Tishbite—gray beard, bushy eyebrows, and slender build. And though he didn’t eat locusts or wild honey all that much, he still managed to look like a cross between Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist and Gandalf. (Chapter 5)

alternative home birthing:
After the police officers left the Health Temple, Mystic Union spent a long afternoon with the woman in the back room who was in labor, a woman who finally produced a man child sunny side up, despite all attempts to keep it from happening the way it usually happens in nations with indoor plumbing. At the Health Temple, the best efforts were made to recreate conditions for mother and child that approximated the conditions found at higher altitudes in Nepal, and the effect of this was that both of them almost died several times, but since no one actually did, they happily departed the Temple late the next day, with no one the wiser. (Chapter 9)

Both Husband and I really enjoyed this book, it was a chance to laugh at Christianity, its various forms (and ourselves) a little.

I found out about this book from a review by Paul Grimmond in The Briefing, June 2009

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