When I was eleven years old, my dad got us hooked up to the Internet for the first time. As I’ve mentioned before, there wasn’t a whole lot to do on the web at the time apart from asking Jeeves if he was gay and waiting 45 minutes for a five-second gif of Goku punching Frieza to download.
Thanks to the dearth of other options, the primary destination for any newly-wired child in those days was the chat room. I spent several of my formative years in the Geocities rooms, talking to total strangers about their pets and their sexual proclivities, crouching meekly behind my chosen handle: GingerSnaps12. “Ginger Snaps,” because that was my dog’s name, and “12” because I was pretending to be twelve. Not thirteen, which was the actual minimum age for Geocities chat. My reasoning must have been that I could pass for twelve easy, but thirteen was too much of a stretch.
By the turn of the new millennium, chat rooms had started to die off and were supplanted by instant messaging programs, chief among them AOL Instant Messenger. The authors of today’s book, In the Chat Room with God, were a bit slow to cotton on to the changing landscape. No self-respecting teen used a chat room in the Year of Our Lord 2002. Then again, there’s a lot of things in this book that no self-respecting teen would do.
In the Chat Room with God represents that most futile of beasts, media that seeks to make Christianity hip and relevant to the modern adolescent. It was written by two brothers: Todd, who heads Hallmark’s book division, and Jedd, who became a Christian stand-up comedian in an attempt to wrest the title of “Least Cool and Street-Credible Job” from his brother’s grasp. Who better to penetrate the six inches of ossified irony shielding the heart of the average teen and show them how legit God really is?