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The Messiah of Morris Avenue: A Novel

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  245 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
From the bestselling author of Father Joe, a slyly comic, deeply spiritual novel that imagines the Second Coming--and an unlikely, lovably human new savior

Tony Hendra's Father Joe became a new classic of faith and spirituality--even for those not usually inclined. Now Hendra is back with a novel set in a very reverent future where church and state walk hand in hand. Fade-i
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published April 4th 2006 by Henry Holt and Co. (first published 2006)
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This was SURPRISINGLY good - insightful, thoughtful, liberal, intuitive, subversive, and probably the first book I've ever read that made me think that someone REALLY has thought about life, the world, and Christianity and tried to figure out how they all fit together. Worth a read.
Leroy Seat
Jan 17, 2011 Leroy Seat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-fiction
This was an intriguing book, one of the most thought-provoking novels I have read in a long time. I wish there was a way to give it at least 4.5 stars, for I thought it was that good. Rather than making comments on the plot or the contents, though, let me just share some of the noteworthy quotes:

“There’s one kind of person capable of certainty and another kind incapable of it. The second kind envies the first. The first doesn’t envy the second; doesn’t even know, in fact, by what right they’re a
Richard Sutton
Jan 29, 2010 Richard Sutton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If my son-in-law didn't work at an FDNY firehouse near Morris Avenue, I probably would not have bothered to read this book. It would have been a terrible loss. The writing is humorous, character-driven, but works mysteriously into full-blown biblical cross-references. Those of you who have spent some time in the New Testament will find this book really engaging.

We always seem to need someone or something to save our poor sad souls. The author contends that there is no shortage of miraculous spi
Conchita Campos
Apparently, the new Jesus is this Guatemalan kid named Jose who lives in the Bronx and performs various miracles around the neighborhood, all while trying to avoid the public spotlight and the backlash of an avid Christian right. Pretty funny stuff. A little too political but entertaining at the very least.
Jun 06, 2007 Alex rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I got a $10 library fine because of this book!
Megan Graff
Tony duncan
Sep 13, 2008 Tony duncan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: politics and spirituality
Recommended to Tony by: brattleboro library
I confess I only got this book because it bears some similarity to my (almost finished ) novel.
As I began reading it I realized that it had very litle in common and was written totally differently. It also takes place in the future and i thought it was a little too cartoonish I almost was going to stop reading and read the Kite Runner, which barb highly recommended.
But I am glad I didn't stop. it takes place in an America maybe 10 years in the future , and a fundamentalist world view has pretty
Aug 08, 2011 Jeff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
WOW!! I have lent this book out to friends, because I think those in the Church definitely need a book like this. Hendra is not a "Christian", but nonetheless the love for Christ he shows in this book is astounding. He points out how beautiful Christ is for those of us who do follow Him, and also makes Jesus a person that even a non-believer would want to follow (I sense Hendra in this category). It's a recapitulation of the Jesus story in a modern context but also a very thought-provoking criti ...more
Nov 18, 2010 Callie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Liked the idea better than the execution. I think he could have developed plot and characters more, but I give him credit for writing about Jesus when he had to know that critics and their ilk would not take him seriously given that kind of subject matter. Some quotes I liked:

"Screens of every kind kill meaning for those on them and for those watching them. People must talk to people; lives must touch lives. The Revelation will not be televised."

"Modern loneliness is physical as well as spiritua
Apr 09, 2016 Rory rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If nothing else, this is an effecting book. There are many moments of stopping and reflecting on Hendra's retelling and reworking of the Jesus story. He's done a great job. I'm having trouble trying to figure out whether it comes across as sanctimonious to someone who isn't already on the side of the perspective it offers (which I am). That aside, I'm really glad to have read it. It articulates foundational tenets of my faith in grounded ways. Believable ones, even. I especially appreciate Hendr ...more
Oct 22, 2010 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Skimmed it again (read it once for me, once when first assigned it to students, and skimmed twice now for later classes). Still find the near-future dystopian critique of an Evangelical future U.S. uncomfortably disturbing, the Jay/Jose character engaging, the Greco (Judas) character a little too much like me for comfort, and the ending both echoing the Biblical account of Jesus and surprising anyway.

It's an interesting mix of old and new theology. I was reminded of this in the class discussion
When I fly, I bury myself in books. I don't want to talk, I just want to get there. When I got on my last flight, the man sitting next to me asked "What are you reading?" and we talked all the way home. We exchanged interesting books we had read recently, and this was his recommendation.

What I liked about the book was what I believe to be a very real understanding of what Jesus said and what he meant when he said it. What I didn't like was that the book was very thin in terms of character and ch
Kime Chenault
Sep 06, 2007 Kime Chenault rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So, this is a satire about the second coming of Christ.
It takes a different perspective on things, though.
Instead of our country neglecting religion and trying to push it out of the lives of the citizens (like it seems to be doing at this point in time), religion (Christianity) is practically running America. Also, Jesus comes back as Jose, a Latino guy from (I want to say) the Bronx. It's much like when Christ first came to Earth, only this time, he came to reform Christianity. It's got a lot
Jul 31, 2012 Janet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So Fundamentalism has flourished to such an extent that the Hollywood sign now reads Holywood. Hendra takes the slide of the teaparty, and value based politics to the bottom of the slippery slope..following those of what the extremes could go to. In this dystopic vision, enters Jay. He is a latino, poor embodiment of the son of God. It's a put your money where your mouth is type of satire about Christianity is and what it could be. Very interesting and disturbing read.
Bob Oliver
Apr 03, 2014 Bob Oliver rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I always enjoyed Tony Hendra's writing in the National Lampoon and thought I'd try this book when I came across it. I was really glad I did. The story follows fundamentalist religion's path if it was allowed to take over almost aspects of government, entertainment and our lives. He tells a really truthful story of how things would go if Jesus came back today or in the near future. It is all pretty scary. It is dark humor at its best. I highly recommend this book.
Sarah Boyette
I enjoyed this book, but had a hard time concentrating on it. I don't know if it was the book, or me. It's about Jesus coming back as a Hispanic laborer. He corrects all the wrongs Christianity has done and clears up misconceptions of the Bible. Interesting concept, but I'm just not sure what I got out of it was worth all the work I put in it. Also interesting concept about the Trinity being the ultimate nuclear family.
Apr 21, 2008 Juno rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Athiests
Picked this book up completely by chance. I was in a dinky store that sold mostly home appliances and other knick knacks when I saw this on the small bookshelf they had in the back. I liked the cover, so I picked it up not knowing what to expect. I really enjoyed reading this book, it was a refreshing new take on a really great story.
Mar 17, 2013 Kristina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book so much, my friend recommended it to me and I passed it on to friends, who then passed it on to their friends. It was that good.

I think the reason I liked it so much is because it's very thought provoking.
The satire of a modern America run by a theocratic government makes for a good setting for anyone to enjoy, and if you are religious, you will find the new appearance of Jesus (with contemporary language and new miracles that mirror the old) fascinating.
Matt Wisdom
Apr 05, 2011 Matt Wisdom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Picture an America controlled by the Christian Right where Jesus returns as an ugly Hispanic guy roaming the ghetto. That's the setting of this wonderful novel from Tony Hendra.

It's a beautiful, funny, and poignant read that wholeheartedly recommend.
Sep 10, 2009 Mjackman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Why do comedians write some of the most moving stuff? It doesn't have that extra oomph to put it over the edge into five-star territory, but Hendra's compassion, humanity and sympathy are what make this anti-fundamentalist passion play work.
Aug 16, 2012 Yeva rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. I really liked the twists in this book. Theologically speaking, it's an interesting take on the story of Jesus' life, and it's vastly amusing in some places. I recommend this book, because I think we often need a reminder of what Jesus really stood for. Good read.
Oct 19, 2010 Jack rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
All in all a very well done short novel. Hendra's narrative of titular messiah was a bit heavy-handed for my taste at times, but his vision of the fundamentalist theocratic dystopia that is just around the corner feels too dead-on for comfort.
Wes Bishop
Jul 27, 2011 Wes Bishop rated it it was amazing
Fantastic read. An interesting approach to the second coming of Christ told in a way that will leave the reader engaged until the last page.

WARNING: Challenging thoughts and story ahead. Not to be tempted by the narrow minded.
David Wasser
Sep 01, 2012 David Wasser rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the funniest books I've read in a long time, it's a marvelous satire of America in the 1990's.
Apr 16, 2007 TJ rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ministry
This book is a little too over the top for me. A much better and more inspiring version is the Joshua series. I couldn't even finish the first 100 pages b/c it was too much.
Daniel Hadley
Jun 01, 2008 Daniel Hadley rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A Left Behind for Liberals. Neat concept, but turns out it's too much like Left Behind for conservatives.
Jan 12, 2008 Dawn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The setting scarily resembles aspects of now and what could be if we don't change direction. Parts of this book are devestating...actually made me sick. Still, worthwhile, but hard to read.
Jul 26, 2008 Joanne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Half way through. The idea of what could happen if the religious right continues to gain power and influence is interesting, but it's a little like the text of a graphic novel.
Irl Newham
Mar 18, 2014 Irl Newham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Out of my normal reading range but a very interesting and frightening book about what might happen the (Religious Right) took complete control of the U.S.
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Tony Hendra (born 1941) is an English satirist and writer, who has worked mostly in the United States. Educated at St Albans School (where he was a class-mate of Stephen Hawking) and Cambridge University, he was a member of the Cambridge University Footlights revue in 1962, alongside John Cleese, Graham Chapman and Tim Brooke-Taylor.
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“All evil begins with this belief: that another’s existence is less precious than mine.” 16 likes
“For him, a universe imbued with the divine was not something to make you bow down but something to reassure you. The divinity of all things is normal, not awesome.” 1 likes
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