The Wild Spirit (or Zombie Christianity)

As speculative Christian writing has grown as a genre over the last ten years, things have gotten better in the writing area, but Christian movies and music have a way to come.
on Dec 22, 2017 · 1 comment

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(Random Sappy Christian Movie or Book Scene)

“Good afternoon, Timmy.” Mr. Heartsworth waved to Timmy from his garden, his face framed by the red roses he was planting in the dark, rich earth. “How was school today?” He stood and ambled to the fence, his knees creaking with each step.

Timmy shook his head, his curly, blond hair bouncing as he did. “Not good. Anger got the best of me again, Mr. Heartsworth. Kicked a teacher in the shin and stole a candy bar from a friend. I wish I wasn’t so bad! If I don’t get a handle on myself, I’ll probably end up being a drug-dealer, atheist, and maybe a human trafficker. What is wrong with me, Mr. Heartsworth?”

The old man brushed off dirty hands and waved for Timmy to follow him into the garden. With one quick movement, he took his phone out of his pocket, opened Spotify, and turned on Bill and Gloria Gaither’s “Just As I Am”.

“Timmy, sounds like a problem that only Jesus can fix.”

“Jesus? I’ve heard of him before.” A cool, fresh wind began to blow, and Timmy took a deep breath. “Every time someone says that name, I get a funny feeling in my chest.”

Mr. Heartsworth walked down the garden path, reaching out to pluck some blueberries off a bush. He handed them to Timmy. “That’s because he’s calling to you to become a Christian. He’ll fix all your problems, Timmy. Just turn your life over to him, and your anger will melt away. Repeat after me: Heavenly Father, please save me from my sins and make me a Christian.”

Timmy fell to his knees and shouted the prayer at the top of his lungs. When finished, he jumped to his feet and ran into Mr. Heartsworth’s arms. “It’s gone! My anger is gone! I can be a good boy now!”

Mr. Heartsworth’s eyes brimmed with tears. “That’s right, Timmy. Now you’re a Christian and the Devil can’t stoke that old anger of yours. Now, let’s baptize you in the birdbath, and we’ll be all done.”

“Hooray!” Timmy did a little jig, then popped the blueberries into his mouth. “Hmm! Even food tastes better now! I can’t wait to tell all my friends about Jesus. And you know, I don’t think I’m going to be a drug dealer anymore. I want to be a preacher.”

“That sounds mighty fine, Timmy. Mighty fine.”

* * *

Okay, so most mainstream Christian movies and books aren’t quite this bad, but let’s face it, we’ve all seen some that are so unrealistic that it makes you cringe. As speculative Christian writing has grown as a genre over the last ten years, things have gotten better in the writing area, but Christian movies and music have a way to come, I think. I’m always curious as to why, though. What makes the most exciting and soul-shaking story in the universe become so sterile that it hardly bears a resemblance to reality? I could blame the three enemies: the world, the flesh, and Satan. But I’ll take those as a given and focus on a tool that all three use: man-centered religion.

Religion, absent the leading of the Holy Spirit, has a way of sucking the life out of anything it turns its hands to. It doesn’t matter what religion it is, when humans are the driving force rather than God, there is always a loss of imagination and creativity. Why? Volumes could be written on the subject. Allow me to indulge in some oversimplification: we like to control things, keep them the same, and make them predictable. It helps us feel safe. The result? Zombie Christianity: a nightmarish, brain-eating, shell of a faith. Western Christianity has a profound struggle with this.

~ The secret word is “Daniel” ~

What’s the cure? A bit of oversimplification is due here as well. Anyone attempting to represent God through literature, art, or media should take a good, long look at his true nature. The Trinity, and everything about them, is wild. When characters in the Bible meet God or his angelic servants, it’s a harrowing, mind-blowing experience. Strange creatures, displays of awesome supernatural power, holy fear, glimpses into the future, mystery, talking animals, blessings, curses, foreknowledge. I could go on and on. There is nothing about Christianity or God that is boring or sterile, drab or clownish. Yes, God is accessible: we can cry, “Abba, Father.” But the reason that was so amazing to Paul was because he knew that God is a Consuming Fire. To give you the Nathan Paraphrase, Paul writes, “It’s awesome that we don’t have to fear and worship God from a distance. He has literally adopted us even though he is a universe-creating, all-powerful, terrifying-but-loving Spirit of Fire and Life.” His words were not to take the awe away, but to give assurance.

I leave you with a passage from my new book, Daniel and the Triune Quest. I hope it shows the nature of God faithfully.

~Chapter 20: The Son~

If Daniel could’ve fallen to his knees, he would have. It was a man. But he was unlike any man he’d ever seen….Light emanated from his entire body, but it was more concentrated near the center of his forehead where he wore a diadem of white-hot stars. An intricate web of cracks began snaking through the rock faces of the chamber walls as the room strained to withstand his power.
With each step he took, Daniel’s heart beat harder, as if more Life were being pumped into his body the closer the man came. He all but forgot the encompassing pressure of the three galaxies flitting around him.
Flowers, grass, and even small shrubs burst up through the rocks under the man’s bare feet, leaving a trail of footprint-sized meadows in his wake.
And his face—Daniel couldn’t tell what he looked like. Not exactly, anyway. In Peru, the Enemy’s appearance constantly shifted from angelic to demonic, and back again. This man’s face didn’t change like that, but rather appeared to have the features of every loving person Daniel had ever met. There was Mr. Jones’s steady gaze. And Gabriela—the gleam in her eyes and her cryptic smile. Inti, Granny, Chandra, Candi—it wasn’t just their power or spirits that were similar to his. Somehow, each form they’d ever taken seemed to come from him. Ms. Julie’s expression of kindness and pity was right there when his eyebrows moved. And Mrs. Jones’s knowing glance. Even Raylin’s mannerisms were perfectly captured in the subtle movement of his arms and the calm sense of absolute confidence he exuded as he stopped and looked up at Daniel. How could he encompass so many characteristics all at once? But Daniel already knew the answer. It was because all things came from him. All Good Things.
Behind and around him spun a giant halo of colored light. It was so large that as it turned, part of it disappeared into the ground before rotating up again. To call it a rainbow wouldn’t have done it justice. For one, it was infused with fire, electricity, water, earth, wood, and a myriad of other materials Daniel couldn’t name. For another, instead of the usual spectrum, every hue, tone, and shade of color Daniel had ever seen in nature was there.
His hair was white. Not white like an old man’s, but white like the hottest fire Daniel could imagine. His eyes—had they reminded him of Gabriela’s? They were so much more: every person’s eyes, every animal’s eyes—they were all there. His were The Eyes from which all eyes were made. What color were they? Red? Brown? The deepest green Daniel had ever seen? The yellow of a summer sunset, and the blue of an autumn sky? All the colors were so brilliant, pure, and clear that they caught and reflected each scintillating beam of starlight from Daniel’s prison. He was staring into a crystal ocean refracting the light of a billion supernovas.
His raiment was power. That’s the only way Daniel could describe it. The very fabric of space around his body vibrated, radiated, and overheated. Atoms were split, the air was shattered, light was pulled in and happily stayed as close to his body as possible, draping him in a robe of glorious, mind-blasting energy that fell to the floor. Around his chest, he wore a sash of liquid gold. It undulated like a metallic river, flowing up and over his right shoulder, down and across his back, then around to his chest again.

Somewhere, music was playing. Daniel listened, enraptured by the sound. The melody was slow, rolling, and complicated—so slow that he wondered if the song could reach its conclusion in a thousand years. Maybe it would go on forever. Every instrument he could imagine was somewhere in there, but perfectly blended with the others. His whole body resonated with the tune—first happy and joyful, upbeat and fast and interwoven with faint forest sounds, and now slow and deep as it played alongside the wind and a chorus of voices sweet and yearning. It was ever changing, and ever beautiful.

The man lifted a finger and the galaxies holding Daniel flew into his “robe.” Daniel was slowly lowered to the floor, where he promptly fell flat on his face.

More about Nathan Lumbatis


If you are interested in purchasing a signed copy of Nathan’s books, or interested in finding out more about the Sons and Daughters series, please head over to his website at:

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Daniel And The Sun Sword

Daniel And The Triune Quest

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Nathan Lumbatis grew up in the woods of Alabama, where he spent his time exploring, hiking, and dreaming up stories. Now, as a child/adolescent therapist and a speculative fiction author, he's teaching kids and teens how to redeem their stories using Biblical principles. He still lives in Alabama, where you will find him with his wife and three kids every chance he gets.
  1. notleia says:

    +1 for the spoof

    But somehow the excerpt made me doubt that text was the appropriate medium for most of what put down. Text is impressionistic, not photographic. The good bits for text are the parts about the resemblances, but the rest of it seems to be too much description for too little emotional payoff.
    Graphic novel might allow for better scope of what you’re trying to capture, but probably the best would be animation. I’m imagining some kind of Neon Genesis Evangelion freaky weird stuff while Beethoven plays in the background.

    I think I’d be better able to tell stories in graphic novel form, but I do not haz art talent, sadface.

What do you think?