Traveling under the name Joshua, Christ walks the land healing the blind and deaf, casting out devils, and conducting couples' therapy in the latest of Joseph F. Girzone's contemporary-Jesus novels. Joshua's mission this time is to put a lid on Y2K alarmism, as he unmasks a doomsday cult as the work of Lucifer and repeatedly admonishes everyone that the world ain't over till it's over. His debunking of End Times prophecy is just part of his larger war against biblical literalism, which he deplores as the error of Protestant schismatics. Instead of bothering their heads with the Bible, Joshua advises people to pay more attention to modern-day discourses, like seismology--a hint that goes tragically unheeded by the populace of San Francisco.

Since the Son of Man has no place to lay his head, his main preoccupation is to arrange for meals and lodging with the many Good Samaritans who cross his path. As a result, Joshua speaks almost exclusively in the awkward repartee of a grateful but ill-at-ease dinner guest. "Thank you, that was a very enjoyable meal," he intones again and again, before launching into equally stilted sermons about how "My Father is a fun God." Girzone ends up giving Joshua the creepily polite demeanor of Hal in "2001: A Space Odyssey." This portrait of Christ not just crucified but lobotomized may send people scurrying back to the Bible for comfort.

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