In The Second Coming: A Love Story, the devilish new novel by Scott Pinsker, the culture war between Red America and Blue America turns shockingly real when two self-declared saviors appear on earth. The first “messiah” attracts legions of liberal and secular-progressive followers with his message of New Age brotherhood, quickly becoming the darling of the left. The second “messiah” preaches fire-and-brimstone traditional Christianity, gaining a grassroots army of conservative worshippers ready to battle to the death.
It’s finally happened: Red America and Blue America are headed for Armageddon!
I was intrigued by the blurb of this book, there is something that intrigues me about Biblical interpretations and the study of the concept(s) of God and when that is mixed with politics it makes for some very volatile arguments and fascinating reading.
Naturally America is the setting for the Second Coming, with its polarised and well publicised leanings of both the political and the religious sort. With such subjects on offer, I didn’t have a clear idea about how the story would be structured or if I would miss some of the points due to my Anglo nature.
I needn’t have worried on either score, it’s very much a book where the plot is threaded through a series of set piece scenes, which are the platform for discourses of theological and social arguments. A lot of which will be familiar to anybody who has had thoughts on the subject for any length of time.. That is not to say there is nothing new in the book, putting age-old arguments into a modern-day context meant I did pick up some new thought paths and other reflections.
The crucial element of the book is that both “messiahs” are written to be believable, in fact I found each of the arguments very convincing and makes you consider the choice of words more closely. The author keeps a neutral tone throughout, adding even more uncertainty to who is telling the truth. It is fun to see how both players communicate in the 21st century as well as the Biblically named characters and their occupations which raise a smile. There is enough satire in here to break up the well written arguments and stop the book becoming too much like an essay.
I don’t imagine that this is a book for all Christians as there is a fair amount of swearing – which is something prevalent in the modern world so adds that element of realism – and some of the book is downright sacrilegious as well but there is enough thought-provoking material contained herein to perhaps forgive the odd transgression should anybody be offended.
I did find that the odd piece of evidence didn’t quite stand up to my scrutiny but then again that is part of the enjoyment of a book like this, to weigh up the arguments and expand your thinking, even if you have no Christian leanings whatsoever the philosophy of the ideas is still going to intrigue you. I also found the switching to the war in heaven bits a little distracting but that is a minor complaint for a book which invites the reader to think, to be critical of what is in front of him or her and that is how it should be.