The Clockwork Project
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:
Quick recap: Luther Martin, a werewolf, has been working with his neighbor (and the primary narrator of the story) Matt Mikalatos to find a cure for his condition. Also working with them are the Mad Scientist, Dr. Culbetron, and his assistant the Hibbs 3000, an android. The morning after a disastrous confrontation between Luther and his estranged wife Clarissa, Narrator-Matt drops by Luther's house to see how he's doing, and takes him to the Culbetron/Hibbs secret lair. Perhaps science can help where therapy has failed?
Dr. Culbetron takes Luther and Narrator-Matt down into his (well, and Hibbs’) secret lair, where they try to help Luther by activating the Clockwork Project. The Clockwork Project is their attempt to create robotic versions of famous historical figures. They only have enough power to run one at a time, and Luther immediately asks to speak to Clockwork Jesus.
Clockwork Jesus has been loaded with “every known translation” of the Bible, and Luther and Narrator-Matt immediately set to arguing over which one they should use. This continues until Hibbs, in a fit of pique, sets the robot to speak in the original Greek. (This would probably have been even funnier to me if I’d grown up around the sort of people who argued over which is the “correct” translation of the Bible.) We also get a hint, in this exchange, that the Hibbs 3000 may not actually be a robot - excuse me, “android” - as he consistently claims to be.
So Luther asks Clockwork Jesus some questions, and he gets some Bible-answers. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what to make of this section. There’s some discussion of Faith vs. Works; and whether it’s better to emphasize the words of Jesus, or assume that everything in the Bible is equally important. If there’s an overall point to take away from this, it seems to be that the answers you get from the Bible depend very much on the questions you ask, and that people tend to reject answers they don’t like or don’t agree with. (At least, Narrator-Matt does this at several points in the dialogue.)
Culbetron then suggests that they check another of his projects, which involves trying to clone Jesus from a communion wafer. Narrator-Matt points out that that isn’t exactly the way Transubstantiation is supposed to work. I'm not entirely sure that he's right about that - the term does indicate that substance of the host becomes the body of Christ, but there's some... ambiguity... about what exactly that means. (By the way, if this was an allusion to the Christ Clone Trilogy, I can only say: well played, sir.)
Luther, who seems to be fed up with these dead ends, decides that it’s finally time to go see his father (the minister, who apparently was able to help the vampire Lara).
I don't really have a lot to criticize here; this section was pretty fun to read. And while Narrator-Matt seems curiously... coy? uncertain? ...about his own views of/experience with Christianity, that's at least consistent with the way he's behaved throughout the book so far. And it's nice to see Luther finally try something that he's been told can actually help - not that he hasn't been given plenty of motivation for exhausting all other possibilities first.