As soon as I heard about this book I knew I had to read it. So I ordered it right away and then rejoiced when I finally got it in the mail. It was exactly what I was after. I wanted a novel, but I wanted something that wasn’t too fluffy. And given the fact that I know a bit about the author Douglas Wilson, who is very estute and articulate, I knew it would be right up my ally. Evangellyfish = Prefect. I read it in a week, which for me (with two small kids) is kind of amazing.
Wilson writes this disclaimer on the table of contents page, “This is as good a place as any to insist that all characters in Evangellyfish are fictional, and I made them all up out of my own head. Any resemblance to any real people, living or dead, is their own darn fault. If they quite acting like that, the resemblance would cease immediately and we wouldn’t have to worry about it.”
His sass made me like the book immediately. And it is a good thing he said it, beause as soon as you start reading, you begin thinking about all sorts of evangelical leaders that can be described as these characters.
Evangellyfish is a satire. It is an overexagerated look at two very different worlds in the evangelical churchy world; the large church pastor and the small church pastor. We meet John Mitchell right away and he is the small church pastor. He is a reformed (shocker?) baptist, who considered himself a “shepherd”. He takes his calling seriously and he is a diligent man with a small flock. Soon after meeting Mitchell we encounter Chad Lester. He is the pastor of a mega church. It is seeker-sensitive and seems to have emerging tendencies. Lester by contrast to Mitchell is a rock star pastor who has long since left his conciense at the door and has been committing adulteries with secretaries, assistants and even woman elders, for many years. He is also in the middle of a divorce that the congregation doesn’t seem to be too worried about.
The story is shaped around a false accusation that has been made against Chad Lester and mostly how these two pastor’s relate to eachother through it all.
I liked this book because you would think there is defintely a good guy and a bad guy. But soon you realize that even the good guy has struggles that he has to overcome. Things like legalism and unforgiveness. And the large church pastor is in many ways a victim of the machine. But both have to face there own lives and choices and then eventually face eachother.
It is a human story with many facets but clearly Doug Wilson is not trying to write about the deep darkness of the human condition. He is trying to portray ideologies and worlds, and what they manifest.
The large church model has its up’s and down’s and the small church model has it’s ups and down’s. The extremes that Wilson creates in this story is by no means a blanket statement about how these two things always function. Don’t get offended, this is just a satire. And let’s face it, no matter what category you fall into, evangelicals can be spineless.
But I have to say that, if anything, books like these should serve as cautionary tale’s. Large church leaders are at severe danger of pride. And pride can lead to all kinds of evil. And small church pastor are at severe danger of envy. And envy can lead to all kinds of evil as well. We ought to be on guard regardless of who we are.
I think this book is great. I recommend it, and I will probably read it again very soon!