“This is as good a place as any to insist that all the characters in Evangellyfish are fictional, and I made them all up out of my own head. Any resemblance to any real people, living or dead, is their own darn fault. If they quit acting like that, the resemblance would cease immediately and we wouldn’t have to worry about it.”
In Evangellyfish, Doug Wilson uses fiction and satire as a thin veil to cover a book-length list of his pet peeves. Though it is written as a story, it is really just his chance to pick on and make fun of everything he doesn’t like from youth pastors and mega churches to journaling, home birth, homeopathy, and whole wheat bread. Oh and “stacked” female news reporters.
Reading this book is like rolling in a pig-sty full of sex, scandal, cover-up, sex, adultery, hypocrisy, and sex. (There are no explicit scenes, but you know what everyone’s going off to do.) It did end up better than I expected with some reconciliation, repentance and a few of the principal characters joining the small, conservative Reformed church. And, of course, Doug Wilson makes sure that we know he is in favor of good old fashioned monogamous, marital sex (and cheesy potatoes).
I’m willing to grant that Doug Wilson may have a point about the state of much of the church but I fail to see how pointing it out from the safety of his moral high ground and laughing is going to do any good. A book like this just makes everyone it’s not making fun of feel better about themselves and everyone else feel bad (which is apparently their own fault and they should just start being more like Dough Wilson if they want him to stop laughing at them). Honestly, I just felt like I needed a bath.
But by far my biggest complaint was the fact that Jesus was given nary a mention. At the end of the book a few characters are given the chance to turn their lives around (when they start attending Grace Reformed Church). Something “snaps” for one character during a sermon on “bringing every thought to the obedience of Christ” in 2 Corinthians and another is “upended” just by attending the service. The only solution Doug Wilson provides to the messy state of the broader evangelical church is “confession of sin.” Not Jesus, not a savior, not the Way, the Truth, and the Life. “Confess your sin, stop ticking me off, and find a small conservative church to go to instead of the mega one you’ve been attending and all will be well,” seems to be Doug Wilson’s message. “Or at least I’ll stop making fun of you.” Talk about a superiority complex!
The fact is that we all need Jesus: mega church pastors, youth pastors, naturopaths, conservative reformed Christians, and news babes alike. If Doug Wilson had had the humility to climb down from his high horse and distribute the satire on all of us who think we can make it on our own and if he had reminded us after he was done laughing at us that really Jesus is the only Way, then I could have laughed with him—after I was done squirming. Whether our goal is to get away with extra-marital sex, only eat whole wheat bread (or cheesy potatoes), or journal our way out of problems, any life lived apart from Jesus can be pretty laughable.
Review by Amanda Evans
Idealist, former perfectionist, and now mother of five, Amanda Evans is also former co-owner of Exodus. Amanda's reviews focus on those items that matter to wives and mothers (which covers more than you might think!). Read more of them here.
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