Dostoyevsky, American Evangelical-Style
Another weakness of Fisher's is the author's over-the-top pop culture allusions. There is no way anyone other than Stennett himself could ever grasp all his references to movies, television, and music, and one wonders if he was exposed to more than pop-media growing up. (Sorry, Rob, I know this probably isn't true, but the thought did cross my mind.) Stennett does use some creative literary devices, however, such as Fisher's thoughts interrupting a sentence midstream, or humorous situational comedy in which Stennett poses alternative outcomes to Fisher based on different choices he makes.
As a church planter and pastor, I have to realize that the question Stennett's novel poses is not, "Could this happen?" It has to some degree plenty of times (Stennett's own New Life Church is proof enough of this). The question for all of us in Christian leadership, whether we are full-time ministers or volunteers, is: Will we allow ourselves to become Ryan Fisher? Ultimately, Ryan serves as a potential warning for any of us who attempt to do the work of God disconnected from ourselves, from others, and from the living God we claim to serve.
Mike Moran is pastor of Kettlebrook Church in West Bend, Wisconsin.
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