Saturday, May 3, 2014

Coffee with Jesus by David Wilkie

I'm not a huge comic book person.  I tried to get into them as a kid but they never sparked my interest.  I have always been a novel person, specifically fiction, and comics were always too quick and seemed too open ended.  I wanted descriptions instead of pictures doing to work for me.  Fast forward to present day.  I don't know what pushed me to buy this comic book, Coffee with Jesus.  I must have heard about it through Relevant Magazine or something because when I rack my brains and wonder what prompted me to buy this book, I draw a blank.    But I bought it and read it in a matter of hours.  Yep, it was that good. 
I still can't say I am a comic book fan but the comic strip medium was perfect to execute what the author, David Wilkie, had in mind to give people quick snippets of Jesus while they drank their coffee in the morning.  Coffee with Jesus was what I expected it to be.  It sarcastically made fun of what Christianity has become to most Americans and painted Jesus as this relaxed, hipster-esque fellow who you can have an everyday conversation with yet he isn't afraid to pick out your BS.  There are tons of people attacking the same idea but in different styles - mostly videos, sometimes music, and tons of books in the Christianity section of your local bookstore.  Some people have made the idea cliche while others have captured it beautifully.  But what made Coffee with Jesus so unique besides it's comic book form was the intelligence behind it.  It wasn't a silly comic book as some people might expect.  This is due partly to the fact that many people don't take comic books seriously and the fact that Jesus in a comic strip is almost as ridiculous as Christian Rap used to sound.  But just like Lecrae has changed the way people view Christian Rap, I think Coffee with Jesus will turn a lot of heads as well.  I've never read Calvin and Hobbs (though one day hope to change that) but from what I have read of theirs, I can imagine Coffee with Jesus being on their level.  Yep, I said it.  It's that good.
Each comic strip was raw, intelligent, and humorous and they all had one thing in common; each one contained solid theological teachings.  The blunt and sarcastic nature of Jesus worked well with the American/religious Christian characters he drank coffee with.  Each character was given a brief back story and I truly felt like I had gotten to know them all by the end.  Plus, the character of Satan seemed like an over the top parody of cartoon and old superhero movie villains.  I had a hard time not cracking up when I was reading each strip. 
My fear is that people will pass by this comic strip because it is a comic book and people may think it won't have much to say.  However, I believe this book has as much to say about faith as C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity.  It is a book that has come to abolish our inner Pharisee.  Too often we dive into "Christian" media and find cheesy and overdone creations that don't really tell us who Jesus is or what it means to be a Christian.  But this comic book lays it all out on the table and doesn't try to sugar coat anything.  Plus, I liked the artwork.  It was simple black and white drawings and each character always kept their original look apart from Carl who would sometimes have a beard or wear a hat.  One thing to be aware of is that this isn't a story, just snippets of a character's coffee conversation with Jesus.  There isn't any character development like you would expect in something like Spiderman.
I think this is a book that would be great to read more than once.  The first time, read through it all in one shot or over a period of a few days.  Then, return to it and maybe read one comic strip a day while you drink your coffee or eat your breakfast so you can soak in the theology!  Reading the book just in one shot like I did is fine and I don't plan to read it over breakfast for a second time but I do find it a tiny bit forgettable because of the large amount of comic strips.  They are each unique but reading them back to back sort of blends them together in my mind.  One strip a day may soak through more and have more of an impact on the reader.
I would love to see a volume two on the shelves one day!  Fingers crossed!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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