Just finished work on my upcoming book The Holy Nomad (September ’12) and was overjoyed to hear that Tyndale Publishers is currently giving the digital version of my first book, The Mockingbird Parables, away for free! I would love for you to check it out: http://t.co/8Kl7iSWQ . But before you sit down to read, I think it is important to understand that it is NOT a “Gospel According to To Kill a Mockingbird.” I never claim to speak for Harper Lee or to know her intentions behind each character and conflict. The Mockingbird Parables is an imaginative walk through America’s most beloved novel. For instance, I ask the reader in the very first chapter to imagine God assimilar toBoo Radley. I compare the characteristics in an entertaining and enlightening way.
Do I believe that Harper Lee EVER intended for Boo Radley to represent God? NO…ABSOLUTELY not.
Rather, I examine the way the children approach their questions about the mysterious character, the gifts that Boo leaves the children in the tree, how he rescues them when they cry for help, how he watches over the children as they live their livesandthese ideas make for acompelling conversation about the characteristics of God.
Here is the WARNING about The Mockingbird Parables: If you are sitting in your tweed jacket, smoking a pipe, reading some Stanley Fish or looking for the latest Marxist orpsychoanalytic evaluation of Lee’s novel… well… this is not yourlittle binding of former trees. My book is a narrative “conversation” centered on Lee’s wonderful tale that allows you to consider the different challenges of faith in today’s world through the language and iconic characters of America’s most widely read novel.
I have taken great pains (out of respect to Harper Lee) tomake it clearthat The Mockingbird Parables does not speak for the author of TKaM; rather, communicates how the author’s story, one of my favorite novels, has impacted my life and the way I think about faith.
It is also important to remember that Harper Lee grew up in a southern church culture. There are places in her beautiful narrative where her commentary toward people of faith is spoken so clearly that it cannot be nuanced away or avoided… According to one biographer, she witnessed a world of hypocrisy and racism from southern Christians in Monroeville, Alabama; including an activist pastor who spoke out against segregation and was quickly replaced by the congregation. One of my favorite characters, Maudie, comments that some men are “so concerned about the next world that they have never learned to live in this one… and you can look down the street and see the results.” We visit the Maycomb Missionary Tea and observe how the ugliness of racism, deficiency of compassion, and absence of real transparency can turn religion into a mockery of Jesus’ teachings. Maudie comments on the harshness of religious folks that condemn her to hell for her lack of church attendance as they pass by her home on Sunday mornings. We see what it looks like for the Christian community to care for one another in a visit to the First Purchase Church. So to pretend that Harper Lee was not criticizing expressions of the Christian faith in her culture would be ridiculous. We certainly have to acknowledge that Atticus’s actions are grounded in a deep faith. He tells Scout that he “couldn’t go to church and worship God” if he didn’t defend Tom Robinson. In The Mockingbird Parables, I am careful toallow those moments to stand on thier own…
I sincerely hope that TMP will challenge you to see something in your life, in your world, in your faith abit differently. I hope you enjoy my little visitation through Lee’s classic…