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The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher: A Novel Paperback – May 27, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 348 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (May 27, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031027706X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310277064
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,879,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

'Screenwriter Stennett offers a satirical look at a non-Christian's ascent to pastor of a megachurch in this engaging, highly readable novel. Ryan Fisher is a 28-year-old real estate agent who doesn't believe in God, but lists himself in the Christian Business Directory (along with a Jesus fish symbol) to beef up sales. He and his wife, Katherine, attend church to validate his new religious image, where he sees the possibilities of utilizing business principles to create his own megachurch. They move to Bartlesville, Okla., and create 'The People's Church' where Ryan preaches a feel-good, do-good gospel ('I'm not encumbered by things like the Bible and Jesus'). As church numbers swell, Oprah calls, local pastors are on the warpath, a religious fanatic plots Ryan's assassination, and Katherine is smitten with Cowboy Jack, a karaoke singer-turned-worship leader who pens Christian lyrics to popular radio tunes. Is Ryan in over his head? Interesting narration and Dave Barryesque footnotes make this humorous entertainment with a faith-based message.' -- Publishers Weekly <br><br> (Publishers Weekly)

Review

I've just finished reading The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher. Wow! I'm an old cynical preacher so I laughed. But there is a part of me that winced and even cried. This is a book about lies and reality and about what's important and what isn't. Rob Stennett has taken us on a fun journey to a scary place. -- Stephen W. Brown, Professor, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando Author and President of Key Life Network, Inc. <br><br>

More About the Author

Rob Stennett is an award-winning screenwriter, produced playwright, and film and theater director. He lives in Colorado with his wife, Sarah, and their daughter, Julianna. The Almost True Story Of Ryan Fisher is his first novel.

Customer Reviews

The characters are complex and realistic.
Scandalous Sanity
This book shows you some of the problems with todays churches and with the people in those churches.
James A. Nichols
I laughed out loud many times throughout the book.
J. Henkel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Patton on June 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
Rob gets so many things right about contemporary American consumer Christianity that I kept checking to make sure he was a novelist and not a journalist. It's satire, sure enough, but like the best satire, the story of Ryan Fisher's startup church has the ring of truth.

I'm tempted to say that American Christians _need_ books like this, and that you have a moral duty to buy it and tell your friends about it. But that might be overdoing it a tad. So I'll just say it's a page-turning good time. And pee-yer-pants-funny. And totally depressing. But in the best way.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Scandalous Sanity VINE VOICE on October 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
A short description of the plot of this book is enough to grab any reader: an average real estate agent trys to boost his business by catering only to Christians, and when he is successful in the endeavor, decides to start his own church. That would be enough to make someone pick the book up, but Rob Stennett's writing is what keeps the reader engaged.

The book is an easy read, but don't let that fool you. The characters are complex and realistic. Stennett uses all kinds of literary devices, such as flashing forward or back, but does so masterfully, resulting in a satisfying reading experience. Stennett has a firm grasp on American Christianity and how it is perceived by those on the outside. Even Oprah makes an appearance in this book. (That's right. Not just mentioned, but actually has dialogue. What kind of writer has the guts to do that?)

The only knock I have on this book is the constant pop culture references. Most of them are funny, but sometimes it feels as if Stennett is trying too hard to be hip. But overall, I give this book a stellar review. The character of Ryan Fisher is unbelievable. I couldn't figure him out. Sometimes I hated him, and others I wanted to cheer for him. He was real, and that's what a writer should do.

I'm trying hard to be objectional, but I'm on the verge of calling Rob Stennett a genius.
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Michael Snyder on June 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
Rob Stennett doesn't simply have his finger on the pulse of the modern church in America...he's using both hands...and their clenched like a blood pressure cuff. Using large doses of humor, insight, and pathos, Stennett manages to spin delightful (yet unrelenting) satire without resorting to cheap shots or stereotypes. This is a big-hearted story, sometimes sad, almost true, and luring readers to keep turning pages toward a superb and satisfying end.

In case you can't tell already, I really like this book. You will too. Oh yeah, and the cover is very cool too.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By James R. Shaw on July 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher is a fictional account of non-Christian realtor, who through a most curious set of events, decides to plant a church in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. This caught my attention immediately, seeing that I am church planter that is from just outside of Bartlesville, OK. That alone would have been enough for me to have at least checked out the book; but it is content of the book itself that has warranted writing this review.

The book is extremely clever and Stennett's satire is brilliant and dangerously accurate. The book pokes fun at many elements of American "Churchianity" as only an insider can; however, it is not biting or malicious in its criticisms, as has become the trend among so many angry children of Evangelicalism, who have realized that irreverently beating up on the Bride of Christ can be pretty lucrative business. Stennett is an incredible developer of characters, and though parts of the book are verging on "over the top," the plot felt natural and eerily believable. Which, I think, leads into one of the main take aways from the book...it is possible to plant, and even grow, a church with absolutely no depth of relationship with Jesus; which incidentally, is something almost all of us suspect after five minutes of watching Christian TV, and wondering why the Pastor on his golden throne telling little old ladies to trade their life savings for prosperity prayer cloths seems somehow so different from the Jesus we find so beautifully portrayed in the Gospels. Somehow in the midst of this novel filled with belly laughing humor, a very somber message rings out reminding those of us, whose task it is to plant and pastor God's church, to take a long hard look in the mirror and deal with the Ryan Fisherism in our hearts.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Stuart Allen on September 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
A satirical look at the modern megachurch movement that never gets around to closing the deal.

I'm a Christian and have attended all sorts of churches. Liberal Lutheran, fundamental Baptist, Assembly of God, conservative Lutheran, non-denominational megachurches. I currently attend a Baptist church. I found myself thoroughly engrossed in this book. I found myself guffawing out loud on many occasions. The writing is breezy, witty, and engaging (though the somewhat lightweight style grows weary.) From my perspective the author pokes fun at the shallowness of the megachurchs and their targeted marketing practices. I found almost all of it to be spot on. However, for someone that doesn't attend church, most of the book won't be funny. Instead, most of the events will simply be part of the narrative.

The satire is sneaky in that it is done (mostly) in an informative manner without much explanations attached. For example, early in the book Ryan attends a megachurch where he notices the ushers are all friendly, all smiling, all wearing coordinated blazers with shiny nameplates as they hand out the church bulletin. He feels like a celebrity on his first visit. A few weeks later, the novelty has worn off--the ushers scarcely notice him. Instead they are looking for first time visitors with which to bestow their welcoming upon. This is exactly what happens in megachurches. The author could have spent a couple more sentences detailing Ryan's disillusionment and disappointment, but he doesn't. He just presents this aspect of the megachurch as a matter-of-fact and leaves it up to the reader to make judgments. This matter-of-fact style is used throughout the book. The author doesn't cast judgment on these sorts of things, he just lets the reader know what is going on.
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