American Savior by Roland Merullo
Release date: Tuesday, August 26th
The basic premise of “American Savior” is that Jesus has returned to modern America, and He is running for President. Before you think that Roland Merullo is a blasphemer writing a power-mad Christ, Jesus’ purpose is not for worldly power, but to make a point to millions of people.
This story is told by Russ Thomas, a small town TV news reporter until Jesus asked him to become part of his Presidential campaign. Russ tells the story as if he is reliving what has already happened; while he tries to maintain a narrative flow, he also clearly has knowledge of what is going to happen and makes allusions to the end of the campaign from time to time.
“American Savior” reminded me a lot of the movie “Dogma,” but without the gratuitous sex, language, and drug use and with more political satire. At times I was not sure if Merullo’s biggest point in the book was religious or political. He seemed to be making a point about what it means to actually follow Christ, as opposed to simply calling oneself a Christian, but he also seemed to be mercilessly ripping on politics and news media. I finally decided that his intentions could not truly be separated, just as politics and religion are seemingly inextricably linked in the United States. Overall I though Merullo did a wonderful job with both points. The book was poignant, thought-provoking, funny, and brutal. The only thing that bothered me a bit was Merullo’s treatment of the news media. Now, I think he was fair in the characterizations he made, but he basically used real people and only very thinly disguised their names; examples: Lenny Queen (Larry King), Hurry Linneament (Rush Limbaugh – Hurry, Rush, get it?), Anne Canter (Anne Coulter), Bulf Spritzer (Wolf Blitzer), and others. That seemed just a little too cutesy for me in a book that was otherwise very well done.
I think this is a great book for anyone interested in religion, politics, or both – even if you are only ‘interested’ in so far as you are disenchanted with either thing. “American Savior” will make you look at what you know a little differently.