WARNING: If you do not like your faith being questioned or dissected, I suggest you stop reading now. There is a high probability you will be offended. I do not have pleasant views regarding religion and I'd hate to hurt your feelings without warning you first. If you choose to discuss Christianity in the comment section, by all means, go ahead. Know that I am an atheist and that I will respect you as long as you're respectful. However, I do not respect religion in any form and do not wish to be converted. I've had more than enough religion thrust upon me. My view is that religion is like herpes; it's easy to catch but everyone is better off without it.
The Last Temptation of Christ reads like any good fan fiction. It's faithful to the original characters while adding enough twists and turns to piss off any avid fan of the source material. This book has been upsetting Christians since it was published because it supposes that Christ had a choice. So much of a choice that when the time came for him to be tempted one last time, he jumped off the cross to answer Mary and Martha's booty call. (Not his mother Mary... at least I hope not. If it was... just... yuck.) But that's only the last four chapters. Suffice it to say, I was disappointed. I was hoping for more Naughty Christ shenanigans.
Example: "Jesus jerked himself erect." Love that quote, even if it is taken out of context.
I approached this read differently, deciding to take on a chapter a day until the book was finished, which came out to be thirty-three days. I looked at it as an assignment. While the concept of this book has always interested me, I've never actually wanted to read it. I suppose I could have watched the film adaptation, but I prefer the original over someone else's interpretation whenever possible. And since I do not know Greek, I had to resort to the English translation. What interested me was the promise of a Christ that was not perfect. If Jesus Christ was real, I suspect this is what actually happened: He was a magician (an illusionist, if you prefer) who was deified because the era and area in which he was born was waiting on a messiah. After his tricks were outed as illusions (more than likely by his homedude Judas), he was crucified for lying about being the son of God. His crew wrote down their version of events, and that became the Bible. I would much rather hear something like the Santa Claus Speech from believers: "Kids, Christ is more of a feeling than he is a real person. People use him to make children (and some adults) behave properly in the hopes that he will bring them gifts ranging from their favorite sports team winning the super-series-pennant-cup-race playoffs all the way up to eternal life, if you can dig it."
But I digress. Of course your religion is the right one. All these other fools are just barking up the wrong invisible man.
Religion is a reward system that dictates behavior. This author understood that. There are several quotes I highlighted, but my favorite is: "True or false - what do I care! It's enough if the world is saved." I won't tell you what to believe because I don't want you telling me what to believe. If you want to believe in God so that he keeps bringing you gifts year after year, that's fine by me. If it helps you be a better person, awesomesauce. If religion makes you want to do good deeds, by all means, do 'em up! What I have a problem with is the vilification of nonbelievers. What also annoys me is the idea that nonbelievers are somehow in danger. Point in fact: I saw someone on Facebook reply to an atheist's post with: "I know you won't take me seriously, but if I don't say something it would be like me watching a good friend stuck in a burning building and not trying to save them. Who wants to burn alive? Not me!" Odd, because, the way I look at it, it's more like someone standing on the sidewalk screaming up to me that the building is on fire when it's obviously not. Religion is the only acceptable form of insanity and mob mentality. If you hear voices, you're mad. If you hear God, you're a prophet. Dig it: Hearing from God is so acceptable by the religious right that politicians use "God told me to run" in their campaigns, as if that isn't the wackiest shit. Imagine the results of a politician saying "The Easter Bunny told me to ask for your vote!" or "Martians want me to be president!"
Then you have the people who believe "just in case religion got it right". My question to them is: How do you know you picked the right religion? Wouldn't it suck to pop into the afterlife only to find Cthulhu instead of Saint Peter?
In summation: Yes, I have used this review as a soapbox. Not pleasant, is it? Now, if you would like to proclaim how you'll be praying for me in the comment section, pray on, Christian soldier. I've been ostracized by half of my family for not believing, because that's what Christians are good at. Making everyone else feel wrong by being passive-aggressively right. "You haven't met the right Christians." Oh honey... trust me, I've met more than enough. As far as the book is concerned, read it or don't. It won't make a difference in your life.
Final Judgment: Made me jerk myself erect.