Jordan is a disenchanted former minister, a man who has seen more bad Christians and Churchianity than any one person should ever have to endure. And part of the story is his personal journey, a journey which, as Peretti says in his introduction, we will all travel at some point in our Christian life.
Travis Jordan’s story is told partly in flash-back, to those dodgy churches and bad experiences, and partly in contrast to the story of his nemesis, Brandon Nichols, a stranger who wanders into his town and sets himself up as some kind of prophet-come-Christ figure. He too has been hurt by bad Christians, and seems intent on taking it out on the rest of the world.
I think Nichols’ back story is a little far-fetched, but Jordan’s experiences, if exaggerated, contain plenty of truth about the potential pitfalls of ‘church stuff’.
Anyone who has ever been wronged by a church, or even by a (probably well-intentioned) Christian, will find it hard not to sympathise with Travis Jordan. I think I like him more because I reached that point in life where I don’t want ‘Christians’ telling me what to think. I don’t often enjoy worship music, but when I do, it’s written by a lesbian. I not only read Harry Potter, but I read His Dark Materials too. And enjoyed them. And if someone stands in a pulpit and says ‘Don’t read this’, it’s going straight on my birthday list. Call me an infant-baptised heretic if you like, but I’ll continue to think for myself if it’s all the same to you. Jesus died to take away my sins, not my mind.