Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher - A Review

The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher follows the path of a real estate agent who is struggling until he realizes the power of marketing himself as a Christian. One thing leads to another and he begins attending church, because that’s what Christians do. But it doesn’t stop there. The real money isn’t in selling real estate as a Christian, but in pastoring a church. It isn’t long before Ryan Fisher goes off and starts his own church, a church that doesn’t offer salvation for free, a church modeled after his own heart, because you see, Ryan Fisher isn’t saved.

I was somewhat disappointed when I began reading this book. The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher has been billed as satire, so I cracked the spine expecting a good satire. The purpose of satire is to point out what is wrong with what people do. It typically shows these actions at an extreme, so that while the story may seem unbelievable, there is no mistaking the real life reference. Rob Stennett does not give us this. In fact, the story is quite believable. Historically, we have seen many lost men go off, start churches without the theological training and attract thousands. In pulpits today, there are preachers who do not believe that God exists. Some even admit this.

Once I wrote the book off as being something less than a good satire, I asked myself, what I thought of it as just a book. This is where the book surprised me. If we look at just the story, The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher is one of the best written Christian novels that I have read in quite a while. No don’t take that to mean that I’m going to go off and start the Rob Stennett fan club, but the simple fact is that he has managed to put together a strong story. The theme for the story is that it is best to be honest. Rob Stennett argues this theme by showing the apparent success of Ryan Fisher through dishonesty, but then contrasting this with his wife’s dishonesty, the reaction of a fanatic and the eventual outcome of his dishonesty.

Some writers will have a problem with Rob Stennett’s writing. He doesn’t follow the rules and hops from one head to the next then back again. The thing I had real trouble with in his writing was that he split sentences across paragraph boundaries and inserted lengthy though sections within those sentences. It makes those sentences very hard to read, which is why most authors don’t do that. Zondervan makes many editing and typesetting mistakes with this book, such as leaving the chapter title off of chapter twenty-six. Mistakes happen, though we hope that experienced editors will weed out those mistakes. The problems not withstanding, The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher is an entertaining book.