ISBN: ISBN 978-1500167219
Book Length: 404 pages
Publisher: Scott Pinsker Publishing
Two men claim to be the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Each claims the other is Satan in disguise – but only one is telling the truth, and the reader isn’t explicitly told who’s who. The United States soon splits along ideological lines, with Red America swearing allegiance to the conservative “savior” and Blue America (naturally) worshiping at the altar of the other. A furious Culture War-turned-Holy War erupts, with both sides waging a win-at-all-costs marketing campaign to prove their savior’s supremacy.
It’s finally happened: Red America and Blue America are headed for Armageddon!
Adding to the intrigue, the key characters are modernized updates of Bible heroes. For example, Mary Magdalene is recast as Margaret Magdala, Esquire – an unscrupulous attorney who sells her “services” to the highest bidder, until a self-declared savior rescues her from a lifetime of sin.
But was she really saved? Or damned to Hell?
And how well do any of us REALLY know the face of God?
At long last, high noon had arrived.
The media outnumbered the public and the sinners outnumbered the saints. Rumors of war rocked the city streets; young souls ascended; the damned dreamt of martyrdom. Amateur Zapruders stormed outside the auditorium, clamoring to claim a piece of the spectacle. Odd bits of gossip crested and crashed like the tides: One website guaranteed that the reincarnation of L. Ron Hubbard would challenge Joe and Israel to a round-robin tournament of miracles. An after-hour AM radio host insisted that both Second Comings were members of a vast Jewish conspiracy involving reptilian-looking space aliens. Hollywood Insider predicted that Joe and Israel were actors and this debate was an elaborate publicity stunt for a new summer blockbuster. Regardless, these whispers only served to arouse the salacious fantasies of the audience. On the wings of Angels and the fangs of Demons, this event transcended special interest classifications and became an international obsession.
Protesters were effectively held at bay. Abdul Al-Hanon, head of the Arab Council for Religious Understanding, led a rally of about 12 people (and 613 reporters), protesting the exclusion of Muslims in the debate. “All we ask is for an Islamic cleric to be granted a chair on the podium with the two Christian gentlemen. There’s so much prejudice against Muslims in America—to not allow a Muslim to explain his religion is effectively a violation of our free speech,” he fumed. “This is a major television event! All we ask for is equal time and equal consideration.”
Every cable news network interviewed Al-Hanon and publicized his discontent. Most interviewed him more than once.
Other religious sects held impromptu prayer services along the streets and were generally well behaved: The Vatican offered an open-air mass and disseminated Catholic prayer beads, solicited tithes and offered half-priced copies of the Pope’s latest autobiography—in hardcover, paperback and audiotape. Hassidic organizations distributed free Sabbath candles, sought donations for the Jewish homeland, and then sought additional donations for themselves. The red-eyed Rastafarians staggered down the sidewalk, preaching love and snacking on brownies. And a hodgepodge of evangelical groups held vigils in the auditorium’s parking lot where they slapped hands, painted faces, grilled burgers and chanted victory cheers. Most religious organizations failed to entice new converts, however; the bulk of the public, it seems, came not for the Gospel, but the pageantry.
Friends, followers and well-wishers held marathon prayer-sessions for their chosen savior, begging their savior to save their savior. It was one of the few times in history when millions of people prayed to God for God.
Policemen and federal agents patrolled the auditorium’s not-so-pearly gates, partly for crowd-control and partly because of the many death threats both Second Comings had received. TV commentators instantly noted the absurdity of Gods needing protection from pistol-packing people, but the official stance of the police department was that Joe and Israel must receive the exact same precautionary care as any other high-profile celebrity. “What’s good for our demigods is good for our Gods,” they reasoned. So large metal detectors were stationed by the doors, and occupants were subject to pat-down searches. But the truth of the matter was that the policemen were only mud-monkeys; none of them felt worthy of protecting the Creator of the Universe… and deep down inside, they were kind of curious about what might happen if one of these so-called messiahs went eyeball-to-eyeball with a speeding bullet.