Book Review: I Died Last Night

I Died Last NightI Died Last Night by John Orr
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I DIED LAST NIGHT is a fictional account of a regular church member who dies and finds himself in an eternal state of torment. The descriptions of the experience in hell are quite detailed and graphic (if you’re squeamish, just move along to another book). Scripture references are supplied in case one might think that hell is not that bad, which would be a mistake. Following a quite miserable perusal of the kinds of thoughts one might have while being tormented by demons, the souls of those we hated in this life, and ultimately Satan himself, we are asked to examine our commitment to the Lord and ask ourselves the question of the title: Where would you be if you died last night? It appears to me that this book is not written for the non-Christian, but for the church member who has become lax in their commitment to Christ.

I’m not 100% sure what this book is supposed to do … reading other reviews and the conclusion itself I see the words “wake up call”. I do agree that many in the church need to be awakened to a greater level of faithfulness and love for the Lord. I’m not sure that when I read this book that’s what I get. I will allow that there might be some for whom a fear-driven religion will keep them on the straight and narrow. But in both the beginning and end of the book the author reminds us that only a few are going to make it without waking up in hell (and I assume the author counts himself among the few!).

Aside from reading it for myself, I don’t know that I would hand this book to anyone with the hopes of igniting a greater love for Christ in them. The two main culprits of the narrative that lead us to an afterlife in hell seem to be the false teachers who have led the lost person to believe something wrong and the idea those who lived under the illusion that we can just be a good person and that will be enough to save us.

To quote the departed theologian Jerry Clower, “I have made arrangements to miss hell.” I’m sure I don’t understand all there is to understand. I’m certain I fall short in performing the duties of Christianity at times (I added ‘at times’ to make myself feel better). I don’t doubt that in God’s hands in the afterlife I will realize that some of the things I thought I knew were totally wrong. But I don’t think any of those things will cause me to be lost, for the blood of Christ is a powerful cleanser and it continues to flow in my life. And, to me, that’s what’s missing in I DIED LAST NIGHT. God’s greatest desire is to save me, not to send me to torment. My largest impression from this little book is that if I don’t get my knowledge and deeds all squared away, too bad – off to hell I go.

If this book really does make someone ‘wake up’ in their Christianity or decide to repent of some practice they know does not please the Lord … or even begin doing some things they’ve been neglecting…well, then good. Yes, it made me squirm a bit (I’m certain that is an intention of the story), and that’s not all bad. But I do think if I give this book to someone who really struggles in daily life, they are more likely to give up than to persevere.

That’s because I’m not sure that grace has a place in this book. The preacher who was grace-full, writhes in the fire along with the main character. In fact the character asks him, “What happened to all your grace?” That, to me, was the most offensive thing I read in the book. I expect that Mr. Orr believes in grace. I don’t want to suggest he doesn’t.

I can see from the other reviews that it impacted some in a more positive way. Good. That wasn’t my experience. I did give it two stars for creative presentation of the experience of hell by the author and the graphic art by Stewart Yeakley that was, indeed, graphic. I also liked the cover art by Josh Feit and the general design of the book. Start2Finish books always have a professional appearance to them. I would not discount anything else written by John Orr, as he has a way with words and I’m sure he has a lot to offer should he dedicate himself to another volume.

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