Welcome to the detailed (and, unfortunately, spoiler-rich) review of Night of the Living Dead Christian. For a briefer review that doesn't give anything away, read the main review. If you're curious, here's a discussion of why I'm doing this.
This is a rather long bit of reaction, so I'm breaking it up into sections. Hopefully that will allow for more bite-sized discussions. So, now that you've all been fairly warned, we'll pick up the deconstruction after the jump:
Catching up: Our narrator, Matt Mikalatos, has discovered a werewolf in his neighborhood. The werewolf's name is Luther, and Luther is trying to rid himself of the curse of lycanthropy. Luther has just decided to embrace his wolf-nature, apparently on the advice of his therapist, and invited his estranged wife Clarissa over to see the new, non-abusive version of Luther. Predictably, this did not go well: Luther lost his temper within half a minute of Clarissa's arrival. So now Clarissa is even more estranged and Luther is even more miserable.
At this point we once again switch over to Luther-as-narrator, reflecting - outside of the timeline of the story, presumably, since in the story he’s busy dashing around his yard and howling, and probably breaking things and contemplating suicide - on just how idiotic the idea of a loving God really is. Love, he says, is something that we feel towards deserving objects, and as a "wretched creature" he is completely undeserving. And he talks about striking his wife, and how he considers that unforgivable, and how he enjoyed doing it. And at this point, Luther's monologue turns... strange.
"No doubt you recoil from these frank admissions," he says, "but I suspect you recoil because you recognize them and have buried your own similar stories too deeply to acknowledge me as a mirror."
I said earlier that I think that Luther's narrations are meant to be the philosophical, reflective portions of the text, and as such they aspire to - but fall short of - a more elevated voice. This would be Exhibit A to support that view. And even Author-Matt seems to recognize that his audience isn't going to be immediately sold on this The-Evil-In-Me-Is-The-Evil-In-Everybody idea, because his very next sentence is, "Not to say that you desire to strike your spouse, or even that you have a spouse." He then goes on to list other possibilities: theft, vampiric one-night stands(?), playing politics at work, gossip.
And for me, at least, it just isn’t convincing. Gossip can be harmful. Theft can be harmful. But it isn't the sort of direct, overt harm that hitting someone - spouse or not - can be. In practice, people recognize kinds and degrees of evil. Luther's evil is a mirror for me in much the same way that a stick figure is a drawing of me; that's as far as it goes.
For me - and I suspect for Geds as well - Luther’s insistence that he is a mirror for the readers’ darker selves is precisely what brings to mind the idea that “all sins are equal in the eyes of God.” Because without the assumption that all sins are equivalent, or at least similar in some fairly specific way, the assertion makes no sense.
Luther then returns to the idea of a loving God. If we are, in fact, "totally depraved," so that anything good we do must come from God's loving influence, why would any halfway sensible deity bother to exert that influence on our horrible behalf? And, of course, if we're all unworthy of love, then love itself is an illusion.
I'm not entirely sure where to start unpacking this. It presumes that there must be either an all-powerful, solitary deity, or else nothing; it presumes that our imperfections render us unworthy of love; it assumes that all of our natural impulses are base, selfish, and destructive. But perhaps it's best (and certainly easiest) to read this not so much as a serious argument, but rather as a reflection of Luther feeling sorry for himself. (Later note: given the epilogue, I think it’s also outlining a Christian view of human nature that the book is intended to argue against, at least in part.)