The Messiah of Morris Avenue
is a novel set in a very reverent future where church and state walk hand in hand. The story begins as Johnny Greco—a jaded journalist who nurses a few grudges along with his cocktails—stumbles onto a kindhearted young man named Jay, who is driving around New Jersey preaching radical notions like kindness and generosity, while tossing off a few miracles. The most ordinary of men, Jay is not the sort to impress the rich and powerful religious leaders who now rule America, but he touches the hearts of the poor and troubled in neighborhoods where those other kinds of Christians never seem to visit.
Johnny, who prides himself on being an unbeliever, finds himself inspired. But not in the way anyone might imagine: Using the tricks of his trade, he decides to write a news-making story about Jay's miracles that will rekindle his own career and transform the blue-jeaned, not-ready-for-prime-time savior into a figure to rival the Reverend James Sabbath, America's #1 holy warrior, whose church has become a powerful worldwide conglomerate. But as the reporter's plan starts taking effect, as Sabbath fumes and people across the country begin to ponder the notion that Jay might actually be the Second Coming, something truly strange begins to happen. Died-in-the-wool skeptic Johnny actually begins to believe in something. He finds his own life being transformed by the words of the humble man he has never truly taken seriously.
The Messiah of Morris Avenue portrays some of the more controversial questions of our time through satire. Tony Hendra brings to life a savior who reminds the world of the lessons of love and kindness that Jesus actually taught as he skewers all sorts of sanctimoniousness on both sides of the political spectrum.