When I was a child there was an underpass around our neighborhood that we often drove through. On the wall of the underpass was graffiti in big block letters that read, “GOD LIES.” Each time we would pass this I would often wonder who spray painted those words. What was their story and why were they so angry with God? Months and months would go by and I would invent stories about the person who was proclaiming to the world that God wasn’t an honest deity. Then one day we passed it and spray painted over the word LIES was a new word. It now read, “GOD LOVES.” Despite the attempt to cover up the word LIES you could still see it beneath. This new word made my mind do flips. Was this the same person who originally wrote LIES and was back in God’s good graces? Or was this a Christian who couldn’t handle seeing GOD LIES on the wall anymore? I will never know but this story from my past crossed my mind as I read No Kingdom Come
by C.J. Anderson.
No Kingdom Come is a hard book to review because it is written as the author is experiencing the turmoil he is writing about. This is not a reflection on the author’s life. It is more like an argument between himself and God. The book contains the ramblings of a person going through hell. This is important to know going into this book. It isn’t a memoir in which the author cohesively walks you through the trials and tribulations of his life. The author is all over the place emotionally because he is going through it as he writes. And despite some reservations I have with this book, which I will address, it is this inner turmoil that makes this book so fascinating. I read this book in one sitting. I kept turning the (virtual) pages trying to understand the author but often wanting to shake some sense into him. Reading this book is like sitting down with a troubled friend who you desperately want to help but have no idea where to start.
The Amazon book description is as follows:
What if all your hopes and dreams are based on a lie? Experience an intellectual and emotional 14-year journey into the euphoric bliss of God’s love, the elated comfort of His promises, and the endless devastation of realizing He is a delusion. No Kingdom Come is a religious, psychological account of a life devoted to seeking God, and the shocking discovery that followed. Based entirely on true events.
The author is having a tough time with his current marriage, which incredibly he is still married to a women he claims is abusive, a sociopath or possibly bi-polar. Besides her attractive looks, he doesn’t paint her in a positive light. If the author’s experience with his wife is absolutely true, he needs to leave her STAT. He needs to embrace atheism and begin to love life. But there are always two sides of every story. I know. I was married and divorced and we had a child also. So I don’t want to get into that as much. Why I bring this up is that it appears that this woman, not being the gift from God he thought she would be is what sends him spiraling out of control and is the catalyst which makes him question the existence of God.
It would seem that the author’s hope is to have other Christians read this book and realize that they are deluded and believing a lie. He calls it a “cautionary tale.” The author fails, in my opinion, to provide any evidence to support this claim. His evidence is as follows:
“Sara (his wife) was my faith incarnate. She was the unquestionable evidence that God is real.”
Theologically there is so much wrong with that statement. Hardcore Christians who read this book will be able to refute everything he says and will claim that just because the author’s life sucks doesn’t prove God doesn’t exist. God does not owe him anything according to Christianity. I do not even think it can de-convert liberal Christians. Also, as an atheist, he provides nothing new to refute Christianity. But that is not why I think you should read this book. I’ll get to why I recommend this book later.
I also struggle believing the author is truly agnostic or an atheist. The book reads as if he still believes but he is arguing with God. Of course, he claims he no longer believes and he says it is a lie but he often refers to God or Jesus in ways that sound like he still believes. I wonder (and I hope I am wrong) if the author’s life took a turn in a wonderful direction, would he come back to Jesus and thank him for the change? Would he be like the person who returned to spray paint LOVES over LIES?
The author’s knowledge of Christianity is abundant from a fundamentalist standpoint but his knowledge of the history from a secular point of view seems limited. My advice to this author would be to read Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don’t Know About Them) by Bart D. Ehrman or Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists by Dan Barker. Keep reading. These books provide the tools needed to fight the lie of religion.
My fear is that without this knowledge he could backslide into Christianity very easy if his wife all of a sudden changes to be someone great or he finds someone new to fill the void in his current life. I can’t go into detail of what I see as wrong in his knowledge of the history of the bible, who actually wrote it and how it was put together. That would take too long. But from what I read it would help him move on and away from Christianity. Now, he could already know all this but I don’t see it within the pages of No Kingdom Come.
So why should you read this book? I believe what this book captures is the damage religion can do to a person. The author’s faith was so prevalent in his life that when he lost it he became suicidal. It is clear from the disorganization of his thoughts from one chapter to the next that religion has poisoned this man’s mind. Clearly, religion does not provide a person with the skills needed to live life. Without the Jesus crutch, the author is a mental mess. Out of nowhere there is a short chapter on lust that seems out of place in the entire book. He clearly can not think rationally when it comes to his current marriage situation. If it is as bad as he portrays, to the point of suicide, he needs to leave the marriage. Not only that, but if the author truly no longer believes in God and his wife is a hard core fundie who believes people can speak in tongues, there is no way to salvage that marriage. Anyone who struggled with giving up faith knows the confusion and heartache involved. Personally, it has been so long for me, I forget what it was like. But here it is. Captured as it happens.
This book is a fascinating and scary trip into the mind of a struggling Christian. It is a clear example of how faith without evidence is dangerous to an individual. And although he fantasizes about this past belief in a loving creator who you get to spend eternity with, I don’t think he is embracing life as a non-beleiver yet. And why should he? These are current events he is writing about. No Kingdom Come is a look into that mental leap from blind faith to the emancipation from the shackles of religious enslavement. I think a second book from C.J. Anderson after the turmoil subsides and he embraces being a non-believer would be a wonderful follow-up to the tulmultous tales of No Kingdom Come. We all want a happy ending, right?
At one point in the book the author vents, “I must find something, or someone, worth living for. But what? Who? Could she (Sara) still be the one?”
No! It’s not her. It is YOU. You C.J. Anderson are the one. You are worth living for. You wrote a book. That is a huge accomplishment. You have (as of this writing, 19,666 followers on Twitter (I can’t help but laugh that the number of the beast came up). You have the ability to create videos on youtube that are visually appealing. You don’t need Jesus. You don’t need a woman. You need you and once you take care of yourself, you will see things improve. You can be a powerful ally in the fight against religion. Will life be perfect? No. Whether you are a Christian or an atheist, life is a challenge. But you find friends and you push on because we only have one life. Don’t waste it on gods or women who don’t treat you right. Make it matter. Keep writing.
Buy No Kingdom Come