Public baptism and the end of the book
Welcome to the detailed (and 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:
The final section - not so much denouement as epilogue - is Luther's narration of his baptism. It's performed by his father, of course, and more or less everyone in the novel attends (including his ex-wife and his daughter). It is, Luther acknowledges, something of a formality: a public announcement of a loyalty already given. And in the course of the ceremony, Luther makes his long-overdue apology to Clarissa, knowing as he does that it will not make everything right between them. And then he is baptized, just in time for the sun to come over the mountains and end the story with a bright and shining moment.
This, again, basically works for me. I had a few minor quibbles... mainly that Luther spends a bit more effort than necessary thinking through the social implications of Clarissa showing up with their daughter, but without her new boyfriend; that seems so obviously the right way to handle the situation that I can't believe that Luther actually had to think it through. But, A) that may just be me, and B) it's pretty minor.
There's apparently some question (in the comments on an earlier post) about whether it's believable for Luther to be baptized by his father. The minister, after all, is the same man whom Luther has blamed for ruining his childhood and exposing him to an empty, holier-than-thou version of Christianity. (It's also possible that Reverent Martin is responsible for his son's lycanthropy. The book never explicitly says so, but it seems like a very reasonable inference.) As a reader, though, this gave me no trouble at all. For one thing, Luther has come to realize that however badly Reverend Martin expressed it, the minister does love his son. For another, Reverend Martin was right about the cure for lycanthropy - so, again, whatever he may have done wrong, Luther has now seen that he actually did have a legitimate point. Mainly, though, there's a very strong implication that having been forgiven himself, Luther is now able to offer forgiveness to others; and even as a non-Christian, that works fine for me.
And that's it for the deconstruction. I hope you've enjoyed reading it. I've enjoyed writing it, but more than that I've enjoyed the comments and discussions, so thanks again to Matt Mikalatos for pitching in to talk about his perspective, intentions, and experiences in writing Night of the Living Dead Christian. (Well, and even more thanks for putting up with this! That may seem like a normal, sensible reaction to you, but I've seen an awful lot of authors melt down in the face of much briefer critiques than this...) As a reminder, Matt is also the author of Imaginary Jesus - I haven't read that one (yet) but the Kindle edition is currently free with Amazon Prime... (Nudge, nudge.)