Sunday, October 3, 2010

Transforming Story @matt_litton @TyndaleHouse @AdamSab

In honor of the 50th anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird, Matt Litton released The Mockingbird Parables: Transforming Lives Through the Power of Story. This review was made possible through a complimentary copy of the book from Tyndale.

While Mockingbird was not a particular favorite of mine, I was intrigued by Litton's use of a novel to explore spiritual truths. Litton defines parables as "simply stories, and stories are not only a powerful way to deliver meaning--stories are the voice of humanity" (p. 9).

This is a welcome and accurate definition of parable in a world where we hear so much theology and spirituality in terms of discrete "facts," truths, and assertions. Litton's work emphasizes how these truths become so much truer and powerful through the parable of story.

The reader does not need to be familiar with the original novel to benefit from the book. I read Mockingbird in high school and remember only pieces of it. Litton provides enough summary to make his points. And he elaborates on the text remarkably. This book truly is a devotional that not only helps the reader understand the original better, but also God and the Christian life.

His writing style is effective and easy to read. One could read it through very quickly. However, I think a substantial amount of the meaning would be lost. This is a book that going through slowly can really make it into a very effective devotional.

Frankly, it is a more powerful devotional and theological book than most books of those genres I've read. It makes many abstract concepts real and applicable to daily life. This emphasizes the incarnational tradition of Christianity, which I particularly love. Also taking a "secular" book and gleaning spiritual truths from it is an exemplary way of representing incarnational perspectives. Many of the points Litton makes also evidence this viewpoint in understandable, effective, and biblical ways.

I highly recommend this book for people who love To Kill a Mockingbird, those who love story, and individuals who want to see God in everyday life. It's clearly organized structure also lends itself well to being used with groups.

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