Every once in a while, I have the opportunity to review a book by a new author. Such was the case with Scott Pinsker’s The Second Coming: A Love Story. Reasonably familiar with the traditional Western view of Christ and Christianity, I was intrigued by the twists Pinsker’s book promised. This was the general synopsis I was provided:
Two men claim to be the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Each claims the other is Satan in disguise – but only one is telling the truth, and the reader isn’t explicitly told who’s who. The United States soon splits along ideological lines, with Red America swearing allegiance to the conservative “savior” and Blue America (naturally) worshiping at the altar of the other. A furious Culture War-turned-Holy War erupts, with both sides waging a win-at-all-costs marketing campaign to prove their savior’s supremacy.
It’s finally happened: Red America and Blue America are headed for Armageddon!
I assume most in the dunce audience, such as it is, are familiar with one of the most interesting movies I can remember seeing in the last 20 years, The Usual Suspects, starring Kevin Spacey, Benicio Del Toro, a Baldwin, and others. Remember the line: “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist?” Well, Pinsker’s novel plays up on this, quoting the movie itself, but then expanding on the concept. What if, at the Second Coming, two entities came back, both of them claiming to be Christ, both claiming the other was Satan? How would you know who was who?
You can’t tell from the book. Neither looks exactly like the Christ you know or the Satan you know. Both possess qualities of both. Both also seem like just average dudes who occasionally perform what could be deemed “miracles,” but who can say in today’s modern tech, sci fi, special effects world? Further confusing, the political parties each pick a “candidate,” and put their efforts behind the “savior” they choose. Regardless of your political affiliation, you won’t like your candidate, and you will quite possibly be offended. Joe most closely resembles a strict, angry, Old Testament-type God. Israel is a sort of hippy-ish kumbaya type who accepts all faiths, all thoughts, all interpretations of who God is and what religion has it “right.” Very “COEXIST.” I will leave it up to you to guess what party picks what candidate.
Pinsker has a marketing background, and you could see elements of that in the novel. But he also clearly has a good grasp on religious theory, as well as business and law, the latter of those I also found intriguing. The characters all had names that were twists on actual biblical names, and that had interesting implications as well. When Pinsker emailed me about the book, he described the book as actually like a “thought-experiment,” in that, according to him, it is “the very first story about God vs. Satan written NOT as Christian Fiction (no apostatizing!), but from a Machiavellian marketing perspective… because unlike God, the Devil is a marketer.” I’m not sure I see it exactly like that, though it’s a compelling concept. How do you write a book about God and the Devil that’s not religious? Well, you might have to read it and find out.
And if you like it, Pinsker promises more, calling this the first of a three-part series. I’d be interested to know where he goes next, and especially if we ever find out who, if either of them, is Jesus, who is Satan, and what is up with all the blood worms?
For more, you can check out the book’s Amazon page here. Lots to think about in this one. Happy reading.