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The Mockingbird Parables: Transforming Lives through the Power of Story Paperback – August 1, 2010
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Matt Litton’s story-laced and deeply insightful reflections call us to be as wise and courageous in putting our own values into action as do the characters in Harper Lee’s timeless novel. (Daniel Taylor, English Professor, Bethel University)
You’ll be enchanted by The Mockingbird Parables... (Scot McKnight, Religious Studies Professor, North Park University)
From the Back Cover
For many of us, To Kill a Mockingbird was the first book to evoke a moral and spiritual stirring. Perhaps we read it for a high school English class or at the urging of a friend, never imagining how powerful a story could be. By the end, we were left wondering whether we had even a shred of Atticus Finch’s courage, Scout’s faith in goodness, or Dill’s innocence.
In The Mockingbird Parables, Matt Litton journeys through Harper Lee’s beloved 1960 literary masterpiece, introducing each character through the lens of faith. The enigmatic Boo Radley as an allegorical representation of God, “the divine, mysterious neighbor” who watches over, protects, and longs to know his children personally. The hero, Atticus Finch, as a model of faith, integrity, and even parenting. The main character, Scout Finch, and what she might teach us about the role of women in church and society.
The Mockingbird Parables compels us to ask these often-ignored questions: Do we truly love our neighbors? Are we building community? Are we influencing society for the better? By illuminating the parallels between Christian faith and Lee’s masterpiece, Litton reaffirms the magnitude of a novel perhaps more relevant today than ever before.
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"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. 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 as similar to Boo 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 lives and these ideas make for a compelling 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 or psychoanalytic evaluation of Lee's novel... well... this is not your little 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) to make it clear that 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 to allow 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 a bit differently. I hope you enjoy my little visitation through Lee's classic..."
Posted by Matt Litton on his website
Also, thought-provoking for me as a follower of Jesus for six decades is the afterword chapter that insists that the time has come to abandon the lip-service that many Christians settle for and to ACT out the compassion/caring that we say we feel. His image of winter in Ohio (the dry leaves, the dead lawns) is especially poignant as it defines the isolation that is the reality of our frenetic lives. As he concludes his "message," pointing his readers to "the invasion of light that occured two thousand years ago," I believe that he has successfully closed the case for a rebirth of the "good neighbor." I work with college aged young people. I will be giving this book to a number of them before the first of the year, hoping that they will be convinced to follow its provocative and timeless message.