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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Killer Diller focuses on Wesley, the orphan that Mattie takes in at the very end of Walking Across Egypt. He is now about 24, residing in a halfway house because he stole a car. He has an aptitude for music (he loves the blues), and he is now a Christian (Mattie told him about Jesus). During the course of the book, we see how he grows in favor with God and men, how he questions the Christianity preached in church and taught at Christian schools, how he falls in love and tries to conduct himself as a believer. Wesley is quite a likable fellow and his spiritual growth would be quite an interesting story. Unfortunately, he’s placed in a weak plot and used as a pawn in the author’s own agenda-driven critique of Christian culture in America.

What happens is that Wesley gets involved in a service project between his halfway house and Ballard University, a Christian college more interested in getting good media coverage than in giving sight to the blind and preaching good news to the poor. White sepulchres, indeed! These Christians are racist, elitist, snobbish, and altogether infatuated with the complacent, affluent lifestyle of the American Dream. They use Jesus’ ministry to quell dissent, bolster the status quo, and garner wealth and power for themselves. Wesley is suspicious of them, and the author makes no attempt to paint them in a sympathetic light. I have no doubt that such people exist in the US. I’ve even met some. But to prop up poor excuses for Christians, accuse them of being frauds, and then find them guilty as charged is not good writing, just a cheap shot.

Title:Killer Diller
Author:Clyde Edgerton
Date published:1991
Number of pages:247
Notes:Semi-sequel to Walking Across Eqypt


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