Tom Miyashiro sees it too. In his book Schizophrenic, he opens by comparing Jesus to Spiderman, noting how the combination of Peter Parker’s humanity and super powers make him similar to Jesus, who for much of his recorded life was the carpenter in disguise…the secret identity of God Himself.
Miyashiro’s book is part testimony, part teaching, and all passionate. He writes of his personal childhood traumas, the challenges he faced as a teen with anger and attitude, the opportunities he received and rejected to turn his life around, and ultimately his own come-to-Jesus moment.
Throughout the book, he offers the words of the Bible, his own beliefs about Christ, and occasional fictionalized moments in Jesus’s life where the author imagines how the Son of God may have felt in certain situations, such as the forty days spent in the desert after baptism and on the day of resurrection.
The title, Schizophrenic, alludes to several points. Miyashiro offers a dictionary definition, then goes on to attempt an explanation of why humans are spiritually schizophrenic. It is an unusual premise and an interesting idea. Though the author does a good job of attempting to explain his reasoning, I found it could have been examined in greater depth, which would have helped my understanding of his point.
Jesus, being at once fully God and fully human, could easily be seen as having the dual natures mentioned in the text, but the concept of schizophrenia as it relates to Christ lacks development. It is said at one point that Jesus “contracted the illness on the cross” and that “it didn’t manifest because he was mentally deranged…he was so in love with you and me that it drove him crazy!” As I have never considered that angle in any theology I’ve experienced, those statements struck me as too simplistic and opinionated. I wanted more explanation and scripture reference to help me believe the point the author was trying to make.
Miyashiro offers apologies to those diagnosed with the illness of schizophrenia, and also implores the reader to test what he has written via Biblical study. He does offer specific verses at certain points of the book, which adds to the credibility of his ideas.
Through much of the book, Miyashiro’s unquestioned passion for Christ and his zealous desire to tell others about the gospel may get in the way of making coherent arguments. It appears written for a younger audience in both age and faith (teens, twenty-somethings, and/or newer Christians). The efforts of the author to evangelize or make his salient points might prove less effective when faced with a reader who has grown beyond consuming ‘spiritual milk’ to seeking more ‘spiritual meat.’
While interesting to read and challenging in its presentation of ideas, this book may suffer from a split personality of its own. It can’t seem to decide whether it’s an autobiography, an essay supporting the concept that we are ‘spiritually schizophrenic,’ or a sermon that uses frequent exclamations and personal beliefs to make its points. All three are present, yet I felt they could have been better woven into a finer tapestry that shows all the pieces yet still provides the larger picture.
All that said, it’s a short book worthy of a read. Despite my feeling that there was a lack of depth in the overall premise, I found there were parts that challenged my beliefs, parts that made me nod in agreement, and parts that made me empathize with the author’s story. This book made me think…and I think maybe that was enough.
*FTC Disclaimer: this book was provided at no charge to the reviewer.