The Messiah of Morris Avenue
Henry Holt, 2006 (2006)
Read an Excerpt
Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke
nvestigative reporter Johnny Greco narrates this '
comic, yet deeply spiritual
' satire. It takes place '
in the middle of the second decade of 'America's Millennium', or 'Christ's Millennium', a time when the latter terms are 'interchangeable
', with church and state hand-in-hand. America is a '
synonymous theocracy and democracy
', the Christian Right '
empowered by laws against blasphemy and witchcraft
'. Though Greco's
still bring him stories, many newspapers have closed their doors, making it hard to sell his work, even to sleazy Internet sources.
n Ft. Oswald, Texas stands a Christian maximum security prison for sinners (thousands such facilities dot the landscape). Within the walls of each prison is a 150-foot crucifix displaying a neon sign: on one side it flashes '
Christ Died For Your Sins!
', while the says, '
Now It's Your Turn!
' Each penitentiary contains ten lethal-injection chambers. On the day, The
Risen Lamb Correctional Facility
has its first execution on a charge of treason, Johnny writes, '
The years haven't softened the image of him ... I put him on that gurney. I was his Judas.
ohnny first encounters Jose '
' Francisco Lorcan Kennedy of Mayan/Spanish and Irish descent, wearing a hooded sweatshirt, and driving a beat-up van. The
has a small street following, to whom he preaches generosity, kindness, and the real words of Jesus that are not accommodated to fit a religious group's purposes. He performs miracles here and there for the poor who have no health insurance to cover medical expenses. But, it is not miracles that Jay proselytizes - it is belief itself,
ohnny has an enemy he wouldn't mind getting back at. Enter the Reverend James Zebediah Sabbath, leader of just about everything and anything,
to three presidents, two-star general of the U.S. Armed Forces, and closely involved with the administration's plans to attack Europe, Israel - and more. The Rev is appointed master of ceremonies for the first
Academy Awards (Hollywood has been changed to
- with the extra letter 'L' selling for a bundle). The Rev's causes (which keep him and his in luxury, control and power) include his successful and fully-ascending
Church of the Rising Lamb
he reader should prepare to delve into
The Messiah of Morris Avenue
with an objective mind, ready for light laughter and surprises, the portrayal of fanatical insanity, and multiple truisms about control of freedom of the press and of individual beliefs. The ending has the intensity of a mind-boggling, heart-stopper. One of Jay's
, i.e. '
' messages is '
Blessed are the doubters, for doubt is the path to truth.
' As for Johnny Greco in Mexico, '
he wishes to feel just once more that calm and peace be cast around him like a cloak of light ... And believe. THE END AND THE BEGINNING.
ony Hendra writes an
(so to speak) heart-hitting novel about the
that's entertaining and genuine, with double-entendre messages. Hendra is the author of the best-selling memoir
, a former editor-in-chief of Spy, and National Lampoon and he played Ian Faith in
This Is Spinal Tap
. I recommend his novel for its delightful, yet serious exposure of the unfailing power of genuine faith. It's a book for all readers no matter their belief.
Listen to a podcast interview with Tony Hendra at
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