Son Of The Last Martyrs

Rated 4.50 out of 5 based on 20 customer ratings
(20 customer reviews)

$9.99

Damon’s young life is molded when he sees his parents beheaded by the Romans. He’s determined to follow the harsh road of asceticism to prove that they did not die in vain.

Then he meets Theodora.

It’s an age of turmoil and fanaticism. As soon as Christians are free of Rome’s tyranny, they create their own. Acting like today’s Taliban or ISIS, Christian converts rampage across the empire tearing apart temples and monuments, burning libraries and shrines, closing bathhouses and theaters. Illiterate and unwashed, they eliminate learning, art, science, philosophy, music, and drama.

Interweaving history with a volcanic story of passion, regret, and triumph, Damon recounts the wild decades when Christians, an insignificant and persecuted minority, become the empire. Over the years of their erotic but impossible relationship, Theodora asks Damon six questions, each disturbing the spiritual goals he is so desperate to achieve. He comes to question his life’s work building the Church, all the while trying to shake off his lust for Theodora. He is determined to fight what has become a repressive Church, now persecuting pagans, heretics, and Jews. He is determined to love.

 

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Description

“In this imaginative retelling of the debate among Christians in the fourth century, we discover how dangerous it is for Christians to try to please Caesar. This book is as entertaining as it is serious.”
– Stanley Hauerwas, Duke Divinity School

Damon’s young life is molded when he sees his parents beheaded by the Romans. He’s determined to follow the harsh road of asceticism to prove that they did not die in vain.

Then he meets Theodora.

It’s an age of turmoil and fanaticism. As soon as Christians are free of Rome’s tyranny, they create their own. Acting like today’s Taliban or ISIS, Christian converts rampage across the empire tearing apart temples and monuments, burning libraries and shrines, closing bathhouses and theaters. Illiterate and unwashed, they eliminate learning, art, science, philosophy, music, and drama.

Interweaving history with a volcanic story of passion, regret, and triumph, Damon recounts the wild decades when Christians, an insignificant and persecuted minority, become the empire. Over the years of their erotic but impossible relationship, Theodora asks Damon six questions, each disturbing the spiritual goals he is so desperate to achieve. He comes to question his life’s work building the Church, all the while trying to shake off his lust for Theodora. He is determined to fight what has become a repressive Church, now persecuting pagans, heretics, and Jews. He is determined to love.

20 reviews for Son Of The Last Martyrs

  1. Rated 5 out of 5

    Ana from Tampa, FL

    I was recommended this book by a friend, and, as a Jew, I was skeptical about reading a book by someone with an Arab name. But a sentence in the first page gripped me: “I should have known that destroying the temples of pagans, Jews, and heretics would be followed by destroying pagans, Jews, and heretics.” I was crying by the time I got to the end of the first chapter, and I cried several times throughout the book. I also laughed a lot. This is a beautiful work, one of the finest, deepest, most loving and most informative books I’ve read. It’s about the past, but really it’s about today.

  2. Rated 5 out of 5

    Joseph Melcada, PhD

    The author is obviously an expert on this era, which was so important in world history since it shaped the Christian Church. Instead of a history book, this is a tender story told by Damon, a person searching for meaning after he suffered the trauma of seeing his parents beheaded, making them the last Christians executed by the Roman Empire. He swears himself to being holy, becoming a leading scholar who is pivotal at organizing the rapid expansion of Christianity. However, he is a sensitive person, and the Church that he helps form is anything but sensitive.

    Reading this book, I realize that although a lot has changed in our understanding of our place in the universe, how our brains work, etc., we still grapple with the same issues as Damon and his peers. We still have intolerant fundamentalists. We still have spiritual seekers. We still have wars. And we still have the same desire for love and sex. This is a book about us as much as it is about our past. It’s especially relevant now that we have so much religious extremism.

    Damon’s teacher is a stiff, uncompromising fellow who becomes one of the four doctors of the Church. He’s not known very much in the West, but he had a big effect on creating a stiff, uncompromising Church. Although Damon gradually comes to believe the opposite as his teacher, he still respects him. Central to the story is Damon’s relationship with Theodora, who is from a group that would be called heretics. She is wise, courageous, and principled, and he wants her. But when he finally comes to some self-realization, the world has changed. Toward the end of his life, a very repressive Christianity had taken over the Roman Empire, and it ruled absolutely for centuries. We feel that impact on all our lives today.

    I think the author does a wonderful job of telling us the story of how Western civilization evolved without delivering a history lesson. The story of Damon and Theodora mirrors the history, and it’s a beautiful story. There are a few pages of historical notes at the end which I found very interesting. I thought about the book all the time I was reading it. I would go to work and be thinking of the story, and when I finished, it stayed with me for a long time.

  3. Rated 5 out of 5

    Scott Fracassa

    This is a very deep subject, the repression of the Christian church and a man’s quest for spiritual life while conflicted about a woman, but the author does it with a lot of humor. The book is lyrical, easy to read. I liked the history side of the book, but it’s part of the story. The author does an excellent job distilling all the history to brief sections of a paragraph or two. Most of the history is contained in the action. The main character, Damon, becomes one of the founders of the Catholic Church as we know it today, but he becomes disgusted by what the faith has become. He and the love of his life Theodora become as conflicted as the church they are building. Eventually all the diverse Christian sects are wiped out and the Church becomes right wing and conservative. It is a story about both history and today. I really liked reading it.

  4. Rated 5 out of 5

    Anna Abrams

    As a Jew, I was skeptical about reading a book by an Arab, but a sentence in the first page gripped me: “I should have known that destroying the temples of pagans, Jews, and heretics would be followed by destroying pagans, Jews, and heretics.” A friend gave me the book with a strong recommendation. I was crying by the time I got to the end of the first chapter, and I cried several times throughout the book. I also laughed a lot. This is a beautiful work, one of the finest, deepest, most loving and informative books I’ve ever read.

  5. Rated 5 out of 5

    Wendy Lee

    I really want to research this era to see what was history and what was the author’s invention. I too received this gift as a present from someone who enjoyed it, and I came on this website to see what else the author wrote. It seems this is much different that his other books. I liked it a lot. It may be about history, but it’s mostly about the meaning of spiritual life. Damon, the central character who relates the story of his life, goes though many manifestations of what’s called the spiritual life. At first he confuses spirituality with religion, and confuses religion with chastity. I was very happy that there is a short historical notes section at the back of the book. The story is vivid: parts are funny; parts are emotional. Would like to know more about the author’s life because he seems to have gone through some of the experiences he describes.

  6. Rated 5 out of 5

    Emily Mercer

    This book should be mandatory reading for everyone who wants to understand human nature. Although it talks about a certain era in the development of a particular religion, the religion itself does not matter. It is a basic part of our nature to want hard, authoritarian leaders. Look around today. We, many of us, want to be led. I’m sure every religion has this hard-nosed aspect to it. Having said that, this is a love story that continues between the narrator of the story, Damon, and the person he can’t admit to loving, Theodora. Their forbidden relationship goes on for decades, and eventually Damon discovers that she is the only real thing in his life. I wanted to step in many times and tell Damon how stupid he is. I wanted to tell him of the wrong choices in his life. And it got me thinking about the choices I have made.

  7. Rated 5 out of 5

    Bill MacAlister

    This book touches on the foundations of Unitarianism. Let’s face it, we Unitarians lost at the Nicene Council. The winners, the established Church, both Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox, sent future generations into the dark ages. Although Son of the Last Martyrs is not a theological or philosophical work–far from in–the principles of life, ethics, and moral values are very clear.
    I really liked this book. Even though I tend to read intellectual material, I really enjoyed the humor that the author amply supplies. Some of it really dry and subtle humor, but it made the age really come alive for me. Of course, the age we’re living in today is no different. We are still facing the choice between free thinking (Unitarianism) and authoritarianism. I’m not sure which will win, but I happily recommend this book to all Unitarians.

  8. Rated 5 out of 5

    Carola Brudette

    Very thoughtful book yet very emotional as well. I took it as about the foundations of Unitarianism, although it can be the basis of all open religious or spiritual groups. And it is what we’re living in today, with the current backward US government and religious extremists all over the world. I reall enjoyed it;

  9. Rated 5 out of 5

    Sally Nussenbaum

    I really wanted to tell Damon how to live his life and what he should do. He eventually got it. Very emotional ending. Loved the book.

  10. Rated 5 out of 5

    Eddy Walters

    One of the best books I’ve read. I was never a religious person and didn’t ever understand why other people believe in what, from a distance, seems nonsense, but Son of the Last Martyrs makes the religion real and engaging. I really felt sorry for the main character, who narrates the story. He sees his parents beheaded, and suffers from what we would today call PTSD. He thinks. And eventually he gets his life right. It’s a mixture of a sad story and a happy one. There is a lot of funny parts in the book.

  11. Rated 5 out of 5

    Rev. Dr. Laura Ann Olsen

    A most important book that every Unitarian Universalist needs to read.

  12. Rated 5 out of 5

    Jaime O’Connor

    This era is one of the most interesting because it contrasts the Roman Empire with its organization and trade with the era after when the Church ruled which was chaotic and underachieving. Damon, who is in his 90s and looking back at his life, tells us of this age. which is very interesting. However, this is not only a story of religious fanaticism and power-grabbing, it is his spiritual search. He starts on the path through religion, which in his case was a severe religion. He travels around the Mediterranean, always searching. He is haunted by both the brutal death of his parents and by his desire for love and sex. He tries to run away, but the desires follow him into monasteries and finally into the Egyptian desert where his choice becomes death or enlightenment. The book is full of Buddhist symbolism: the other shore, enlightenment, meditation.
    Yes, I agree with the other reviewers that this is interesting history, but for me it is a deep book about spirituality.

  13. Rated 4 out of 5

    Lawrence Brownberger

    Yes, this is a good book, but I felt that the first chapter had too many characters in it, so for me it was a slow start. Although that chapter is dramatic and powerful–why would people so foolishly give their lives–I really got into the book in the next chapter, which talks about Anthony the Hermit. I was right there, in the Egyptian desert, along with the narrator Damon, feeling the desert heat and the desert solitude. I think all churches that recite the Nicene Creed (like the one I was brought up in), should read this book and rethink their ties to this creed. Or for that matter, to any creed. Good book–a lot to think about.

  14. Rated 5 out of 5

    Alex

    A book about the real meaning of spirituality. The main character, Damon, who is tell his life story, keeps searching for God. He follows everyone else until finally he follows his own spirituality and finds understanding. He is in love with Theodora. I don’t want to give away the story, but he denies his love for decades, trying to fit into a mold that was created for him when his parents were martyred by the Roman Empire. You too will like this book

  15. Rated 3 out of 5

    Denise Nadya

    It took me a while to get into this book. I first found the characters confusing and full of strange names, which I guess can’t be helped since most are actual historical people. Once I started reading about the Nicene Council, the book fell into place. There was a lot of theology. Not my taste, but there was also a story of a guy doing all the wrong things to find happiness. Not to spoil it, but it is both a tragic and positive story. The tragedy is that religion (the Catholic Church) won, and we all suffered because of it. Some people say that now because of Pope Francis the Church is changing. Certainly he is so much better than the fanatical John Paul II, but the Catholic Church is basically diseased. I got the Kindle version from Amazon, but I came to the author’s website to see what else he wrote. His other books look very interesting, and I’ve ordered the two “heist” books. One other thing: Son of the Last Martyrs has a lot of humor in it.

  16. Rated 5 out of 5

    Jared, Rhode Island

    Yes, this is a serious book of sorts, but it’s also funny. There is a wonderful passage about some bishops entering Jerusalem and begging to be beaten as Jesus had suffered, then they embrace each other almost erotically. There is another passage about the future Santa Clause who, I would never have guessed, cam from the Mediterranean and was present at the Council of Nicea.

  17. Rated 3 out of 5

    Joseph Lanturn

    I think you need to be of a certain liberal theological values to agree with this book. What’s missing is Faith, which cannot be associated with reason. We believers have Faith in our Eternal Lord. Yes, Nasr has a lot of the history right, but he twists the story to suit his liberal agenda, which is that Jesus is not Lord. We are believers. We believe that Athanasius and the other Church Fathers had the right vision of the Trinity and Jesus being of the same substance as God.

  18. Rated 5 out of 5

    Nina Perkins

    Loved the book. Too emotional to put words to it.

  19. Rated 4 out of 5

    John McIntyre

    Nasr traces the roots of Christianity, which he says begin at the time of Emperor Constantine, who died in 337 AD. That this era is more important than the time of Christ and St. Paul is obvious because Christianity became a religion during this period, graduating from a cult. The story is moving, centering around a guy who makes many wrong choices, suffering from what we would call trauma, struggling with his human desire to love and be loved. Very good book, full of detail of historical life.

  20. Rated 1 out of 5

    No Name

    I did not finish this book, and I hope no one else does because it is from the anti-Christ. The devil is real. The holy name of Jesus is our light. He died for you. Instead this guy makes a pact with the devil to descredit all the Jesus stands for. Turn away from people like this!!

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