From Beaudoin (Sex Wars 2084 Book Four, 2014, etc.) comes a novel about one man’s experience creating a religion in a backwoods Florida county.
“I am an architect, and I didn’t intend to start a new religion or create a video Bible,” the narrator, Joel Weatherton, tells the reader at the outset of this peculiar tale. This is, however, exactly what happens. After being commissioned to design a Christian church and community in Waccasassa County, Florida, Joel finds himself on the receiving end of threatening phone calls. Having an unbeliever like Joel design something as important as a church is tantamount to sacrilege, or so declare those who seek to intimidate him. As one caller states, “No atheist like you better not take no church design.” Unwilling to reject the commission (“The economy was down” Joel explains), he must risk the safety of himself and his family. Having grown up in Waccasassa County, Joel is more than familiar with the many gun-shooting, God-fearing denizens there. Confiding in his friend Helen and his bouncy 8-year-old daughter, Millie, he confesses that his transition from book-loving architect to prominent religious figure (whose followers wear Hawaiian shirts) is as strange as it sounds. Based largely on imagined miracles and Joel’s quest to help the common man, the story presents the lingering question of how long he can trick the world for the benefit of his fellow citizens. After gaining followers, he tells the reader, “I began to take my role as prophet somewhat more seriously when I saw how much I could help people.” Employing what is inherently a zany premise, the novel nevertheless tackles serious subjects, including the limitations of liberal thinking (“Did I want to join the politically correct crowd who use language to censor any ideas they don’t agree with?” Joel asks himself) and the destruction of Florida’s natural resources. Periods of extended dialogue tend to bog down the narrative, as whenever Joel walks Millie and others through the finer points of the books he likes (“That theme of how much we should trust our friends is important,” he says of Treasure Island). But perhaps even a modern prophet cannot deliver marvels and pizazz all the time.
Part comedy, part earnest investigation of current issues, this book offers a multifaceted mix of both.