I just read Joseph Girzone’s 1983 novel Joshua for the first time. The novel tells the story of a mysterious, Jesus-like prophet who appears in a small American town. The plot is simply, what would happen if Jesus showed up today?
I enjoyed the book, with its heart-warming stories and religious confrontations. I’m not a religious person today, but I was in the past, and I can appreciate the clever idea of the book. It’s like backwards historical science fiction for religious people, bringing a figure from the past into a late twentieth-century American town.
In this book Girzone shows that you need one simple idea to create something that touches people, as long as that idea is true and good. When I started reading the book, I thought, “Oh man, how far can this guy stretch this Jesus in America thing?” But he pulls it off.
Apparently Girzone wrote Joshua after retiring from the Catholic priesthood. Now that’s encouraging. You can start a successful writing career in your sixties–at least, if you can find a great hook and a hungry market.
If you’re not interested in religion or God talk, this might not be worth a look. But if you have had religion as part of your life, Joshua will be a quaint and encouraging read.