Welcome to my stop on The Second Coming: A Love Story Blog Tour hosted by Paranormal Cravings Book Tours. Click here to follow along with the tour schedule.
Title: The Second Coming: A Love Story
Author: Scott Pinsker
Publication date: June 5th 2014
Publisher: Scott Pinsker Publishing
Source: Copy for review
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?
Clever and unlike anything I've ever read before, Scott Pinsker's The Second Coming: A Love Story is a tour de force in the "war" between Red America and Blue America. But I don't think this story is quite as simple as one side versus the other, and Pinsker has created a story with all the complications of religion and politics, especially when they mix together.
I must admit parts of the story were over my head, but this novel was amazing and creative. You have to pay attention to what you're reading without distractions, or you might miss something. The concept intrigued me, and one of the aspects I liked the most was not knowing which was man was Satan and which was not. That made the reading even more interesting.
Earlier I mentioned I don't think this story is as simple as one side versus the other. Pinsker wrote The Second Coming without taking a side, which was genius to me, and I think the right move to make on his part since this is a fictional story, not a dissertation on religion. The religious right, in my opinion, loves to portray the liberal leftists as godless and without any morals whatsoever; however, I think the right doesn't realize it's more complicated than that. Liberalism does not necessarily equal godlessness, and to anyone who thinks so hasn't taken a deeper look into the way people think and feel.
I did my best to go into this novel with an open mind and not allow my beliefs to affect my reading experience. I wanted to think more deeply about my own beliefs without coming out feeling jaded, and I believe I was able to achieve just that. Nearly everyday I think about life and if there's a rhyme and reason to it or if everything is random - sometimes I think I think too much if that makes sense! This book opened me up to thinking in new ways about the questions we all have as human beings about life, whether we're happy or not and why or why not, and what's the purpose of our existence. I'm grateful for those new ways of thinking to incorporate into my already held ideas and beliefs.
I'm definitely planning on reading the next installment of this trilogy. I need to know what Pinsker has in store for me next - 2015 can't get here soon enough.
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.
A nationally-recognized Public Relations expert, Scott Pinsker has worked with professional athletes, musicians, comedians and countless celebs-in-peril, managing everything from crisis communications to reputation management. His analysis of publicity trends and political brand-building tactics has been featured on FOXNews.com, the Washington Times and Jewish World Review.
Pinsker developed the concept for The Second Coming: A Love Story almost 15 years ago, while attending law school in Washington, DC. As the author tells it:
"According to Christian theology, the Devil is thousands of years old and deviously brilliant. I remember wondering one night, if such a creature didn't want you to know who he was...how would you know? How could you out-think a creature that's not only smarter than you, but also thousands of years more experienced and capable of supernatural powers? We get fooled by ordinary people every day - and most of the time, they're not particularly clever! So what prayer would we realistically have to outwit the Prince of Darkness?
Then I had a further thought: If the Devil really wanted to con mankind, he wouldn't appear with a pitchfork and horns. All those horror movies have it wrong; that's too obvious. Instead, his best option would be to appear as a holy man - and to attach himself to the faith of his target audience. Because if I were Satan's publicist, that's what I'd recommend.
For the last 15 years, I've been obsessively researching the subject matter, studying ancient texts and combing through the delicate intricacies of Christian eschatology. The end-result is The Second Coming: A Love Story. You needn't be a theologist to enjoy this "thought-experiment" but it certainly won't hurt: I've woven-in countless clues and subtle references to the identity of the true Second Coming - and to the identity of Satan - throughout. No matter your faith, no matter your background, this book will challenge you to reconsider the very nature of existence. And that's the God-honest truth."
Scott Pinsker lives in Tampa Bay, Florida, with his wife, two young boys, two rescue cats and his 220-pound mastiff. This novel is the first in a trilogy; the follow-up, Three Days Later: A Revenge Story, will be released in 2015.
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