By Chukwuma Ajakah
Melvin Ikenna Ejiogu, a Technology Professional gives an enthralling account of the revelations he had about life and Christianity in his new book, The Greatest Reality Show. The book features astounding tales of human existence as a spiritual-cum social being whose core essence should be ensconced in God. The story is based on the author’s real-life experience which he admits motivated him to write: “My experience in life prompted me to write this book. I believe I have something to share that others might learn one or two things from.” He adds that those “who yearn for more knowledge about this incredible life and the God who created it will find great satisfaction in this book.”
The Greatest Reality Show, a 180 paged auto-fiction published by VeeMost Publishing Service, New Jersey, USA (2020) comes in 19 chapters of lucid prose subdivided into 4 parts of 19 chapters subtitled: “In the Beginning”, “The Creation of Earth” “The Creation of Man”, “The Temptation of Man”, “Satan Rules Man”, “The Law Era”, “The Father Explains the Son”, “Should You Worship Jesus?,” “The Testimony of the Apostles”, “Mysteries of the Old Testament”, “Tearing Down Obstacles”, “My Best Employee”, “The Story of Charles”, The Story of Tina”, “My Faith Journey”, “A Heavenly Dream”, “The Legal System in Heaven” and “The Acquittal.” The book portrays an omniscient Producer as to the major character, who doubles as Director and assigns roles to the dramatis personae.
The author introduces the prospective reader into the narrative as if it were theatre: “Welcome to the book, The Greatest Reality Show! This reality show has the longest-running series and episodes you can ever imagine. It has been going on for a very long time. The storylines are simply out of this world, and the setting is the best you would ever see. The cast consists of all real people, and since it is a reality show, there are no fake actors or actresses. With the cameras hidden and not in the faces of the actors, they play real and unrehearsed parts.”
Half of the book is narrated by the omniscient narrator, God whose point of view helps the reader to see the creation of the world from a unique, intimate perspective that proves that the creation of the universe was intentional and purposively designed in love for all creation to fit in. The author narrates the second half of the story as a summary of his physical and spiritual journeys in life. As Rev. Fr. Boniface Anusiem states in the foreword: “Melvin takes a “literary risk,” by recruiting God to play a lead role in the Greatest Reality Show. The book presents a vivid narrative of the encounter between the heavens, the earth, and the underworld…the author challenges the readers to be intentional and committed in their respective roles in the all-pervading theatre of life.”
The author engages God principally as the narrator of the events that occur in the first two sections-chapters 1-12 but introduces the first-person narrative technique in Part 3, where he takes over the narration as an active participant who runs a commentary on the roles of all the characters, including his. The book presents the idea of life as a reality show, with human beings as the actors, the stage being the whole earth, and the director as God. The author posits that: “Anyone who has a relationship with His maker would understand the role they are supposed to play. When they make a mistake they will be corrected and will continue to remain in His will. They will end up fulfilling their role on earth perfectly.” Imploring the reader to align with God’s plans, Ejiogu stresses: “If the devil tells you who you are and you believe him, then you won’t believe who God tells you that you are. If the devil succeeds in keeping you from knowing and obeying God, you will play the role that the devil inspires you to play, which is completely different from that of God.”
The plot of the novel revolves around some real and fictive characters, intriguingly connected in a spatial setting, “Earth” which is depicted as a large stage. The characterization encompasses all beings-ecclesiastical and terrestrial. Elaborating on his chosen style, Ejiogu remarks, “We noticed that humans are not the only inhabitants of Earth who are part of the show. There are also animals. We may not readily know their roles. We may have thought of some of these creatures as just extras, but eventually, we became convinced that not only do they help the entire plot come alive, they also have their purposes for being in the show.” The characters featured in the Greatest Reality Show include God, the Father, who is starred as the Producer and Director, Holy Spirit, Jesus-the Savior whose physical sojourn on Earth for the man’s redemption is reenacted through revealing dialogical relationships, the patriarchs-Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and Moses. The author describes Lucifer as one of the ranking mighty angels prior to his fall. The Archangels: Michael, the leader of the warring angels; Gabriel, who stands before God’s presence as His messenger and Raphael also play significant roles in the novel.
The author incorporates inspired parables and human angle stories as narrative devices. With these, he creatively retells popular biblical stories, depicting Christian principles in an episodic manner, intentionally making them appeal to a wide readership audience irrespective of religious backgrounds. There is also the integration of some dramatic techniques such as dialogues, scenes, and stage terminologies into the narrative style. He tells the story from divergent narrative points of view, uniquely intertwining the omniscient, first-person and third-person techniques. Through diverse devices and copious biblical allusions, Ejiogu explores topical themes such as faithfulness in stewardship, sin and its consequences, demonic manipulations, repentance and deliverance, the sin of apostasy, the unquantifiable love of God, the reality of heaven and hell, warning the reader to “be heavenly minded.”
In chapters 13, 14 and 15, the narrator incorporates his own real-life story together with those of some of his personal acquaintances to portray the central thematic preoccupation which salvation. These include the pathetic real-life stories of Phil-a hypocritical employee who gets fired when the boss discovers his true nature, Charles who was stupendously successful and loved pleasures but got cut down in his prime before he had the chance to repent and Tina-a popular, hospitable and Christian nurse who endorsed her husband’s philanthropic gestures to the indigent but allowed Devil to feed on her weaknesses-avariciousness, jealousy, vindictiveness and pride until she is destroyed in a diabolical misadventure.
The last segment of The Greatest Reality Show chronicles Ejiogu’s personal experiences of salvation and deliverance from demonic strongholds which he summarizes thus: “I believe my prayer moved Christ because He started revealing hidden secrets to me through the Holy Spirit. My first battle was against pride. He showed me that the culture I grew up in had exposed me to the spirit of pride; it had made me proud and self-centred, and I didn’t even realize it,” As a technology expert, he continues “I am professionally skilled at taking things apart and putting them back together to understand how they work…My first goal was to be free of the oppression of demons in my life. God showed me that the demons had power over me because of my sins, and their rights were legally granted to them,” Citing Romans 6:12-13, he acknowledges: “The sin living in me had been the tool the Devil was using to control me and make me obey him.”