Book Review: Night of The Living Dead Christian

27 Mar

What does a transformed life actually look like? In his follow-up to the critically acclaimed Imaginary Jesus, Matt Mikalatos tackles this question in an entertaining and thought-provoking way: with monsters! As Christians, we claim to experience Christ’s resurrection power, but we sometimes act like werewolves who can’t control our base desires. Or zombies-90 percent shambling death and 10 percent life. Yet through it all, we are longing to become fully human, the way Christ intended . . . we just can’t seem to figure out how. Night of the Living Dead Christian is the story of Luther, a werewolf on the run, desperate to find someone who can help him conquer his inner beast before it’s too late. By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, this spiritual allegory boldly explores the monstrous underpinnings of our nature and our quest for Christlikeness.

About Matt Mikalatos:

Like many future world leaders, Matt celebrated his college graduation by beginning a career as a clerk at a comic book store. Having discovered that such work caused women to shun him, Matt took control of a high school classroom and taught American Literature and Drama (although he was best known for his riotous “study halls”). Then Matt defied all expectations by joining staff with Campus Crusade for Christ, soon after marrying his best friend, Krista.

After two years ministering in Seattle, he and Krista moved overseas for three years, working with college students and the underground church in Asia. For the last five years, Matt has given regional leadership to the Worldwide Student Network, Campus Crusade for Christ’s international sending ministry. Matt’s ministry has taken him to places as diverse as Costa Rica, South Korea, Spain, Croatia, Mexico, Thailand, Hungary and closed countries in the Middle East and Asia.

Matt is also the author of Imaginary Jesus (currently being re-marketed as My Imaginary Jesus). He loves speaking about intimacy with Christ, what it means to be a true disciple, world missions, evangelism, the gospel and the great commission. Matt is passionate about presenting the scriptures in a way that is compelling and accurate as well as accessible. He is a popular speaker in Campus Crusade for Christ, well known for his hilarious stories illustrating the deep truths about our relationship with God.

Matt, his wife and three children live near Portland, Oregon, where Matt can blend into regular society.

My Impressions:

There are monsters next door and down the block and maybe in your own house! Matt Mikalatos has uncovered the secret we as Christians have fought so hard to keep — we can be simply monstrous.  In Night of The Living Dead Christian zombies, werewolves, vampires and other assorted creatures are alive and well in our cities’ churches.  No you don’t have to contact the CDC about their plans for a Zombie Apocalypse (they really have a post about that), but you may want to read Matt’s book to find out if you resemble any of the monsters portrayed in his book.

There are two narrators in Night of The Living Dead Christian.  Matt’s fictional alter ego is the silly, slightly clueless voice of the neighborhood watch commander on the patrol to keep the peace in his little bit of suburbia.  The second narrator, Luther (Ann) Martin (really!?), is a lousy husband and a werewolf.  He is also not a fan of organized religion or his Lutheran pastor father (hence his sad name).  But Luther really doesn’t want to be a werewolf, and many of the other monsters depicted want to become human again as well.  But the transformation from his baser self won’t come without help from God.  I found Luther’s voice to be real in its helplessness and hopelessness.

Night of The Living Dead Christian is an allegory, so don’t expect real monsters.  But maybe the monsters Matt brings to life and light are the truly scary ones.  At the end of the book, there is an appendix detailing the habitats, symptoms, common enemies, etc. of the monsters found in today’s church.  Read it only if you want to be enlightened.   It is not pretty to be shown your true self.

You may recognize yourself in the pages of this book. You may also recognize one of the characters. Dr. van Pelt is Matt’s counselor.  Why he decided to use someone who as a girl used to pull footballs away from clueless boys just wanting to kick is beyond me!  But I guess it is good to know that childhood dreams do come true.

Night of The Living Dead Christian is a book for anyone looking to be entertained, challenged and perhaps transformed.


(I received this book in conjunction with the CSFF Blog tour in return for an honest review.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Check out what others on the tour are saying:

Gillian Adams
Julie Bihn
Red Bissell
Thomas Clayton Booher
Thomas Fletcher Booher
Keanan Brand
Morgan L. Busse
Theresa Dunlap
Amber French
Tori Greene
Nikole Hahn
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Janeen Ippolito
Becky Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Shannon McDermott
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
John W. Otte
Crista Richey
Sarah Sawyer
Chawna Schroeder
Rachel Starr Thomson
Fred Warren
Steve Trower
Shane Werlinger
Nicole White
Dave Wilson

9 Responses to “Book Review: Night of The Living Dead Christian”

  1. Rebecca LuElla Miller March 27, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

    OK, I completely missed that Lucy allusion. I would speculate that the similarity to her and the counselor is that what is offered by both isn’t real.

    Now I wonder what else I missed.

    Good review.


    • rbclibrary March 27, 2012 at 3:28 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by. I thought Dr. van Pelt’s opinions were well worth 5 cents. 😉

      • Matt Mikalatos (@mattmikalatos) March 27, 2012 at 11:26 pm #

        Heh heh heh. Good catch! You’re the first person who has caught that in a review. In fact, one of my fact checkers at Tyndale sent me a note concerned that there was a real Dr. van Pelt in North Carolina. I told them not to worry about it. 🙂

        Dr. van Pelt originally had a much larger role in the book. In fact, at one point the entire book was going to be narrated as if the Matt character was sharing it with his “court mandated psychiatrist.” But the conceit grew stale and limiting too quickly, so she has been relegated to a cameo. Sad!

        p.s. Becky, for fun, check out the description of Houdini Dog in the epilogue of My Imaginary Jesus and see what this new context brings to mind. 😀

      • rbclibrary March 28, 2012 at 6:18 am #

        Again my childhood watching way too much TV has caught up with me! Thanks so much for stopping by. I will have to check out Houdini Dog too.

  2. Janeen Ippolito March 27, 2012 at 8:01 pm #

    Nice post. Oh, and a thousand thanks for directing me to the CDC zombie apocalypse page. That made my day. 😀

    • rbclibrary March 27, 2012 at 8:20 pm #

      you are welcome!

  3. Julie Bihn March 27, 2012 at 10:24 pm #

    I missed the Lucy reference too! At least I wasn’t the only one, I guess. 🙂


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