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Mockingbird & Bible Reading

We were just minding our own business discussing How to Kill a Mockingbird this morning when biblical theology reached up and grabbed us!

In school with my older boys, we’ve been reading and discussing Harper Lee’s classic novel. We have enjoyed so many humorous scenes, insights into a bygone era, and powerful portraits of humanity- and we’ve only just finished Part One! This morning, though, one of my sons made the comment that the story jumped around a lot, that, while enjoyable, the book seemed to be a collection of a lot of different stories. I acknowledged the fact, especially at this early stage in the book, but suggested that what we needed to do was ask what seemed to be the main story and then see how the other smaller stories contributed to it. They recognized that Boo Radley and the impending court case seemed the primary threads. I pointed out how the Mrs. Dubose story contributed to the narrative of the court case by demonstrating the county’s scorn and by defining courage in the face of almost certain defeat. Then, without having thought of it ahead of time, I said, “This is a lot like the Bible isn’t it. The Bible is a collection of stories, even spread out over a longer period of time. And many people fail to see any overall connection. But in the Bible, as in How to Kill a Mockingbird, we must ask what the central story is and then see how the other stories support and carry along the central story.”

We talk about the central storyline of Scripture a good bit, but I think this- unplanned- example helped bring it home. It also reminded me that reading the Bible this way is consistent with reading of good literature. It isn’t forced or unnatural. This is the way literature works.

I also decided to assign them Kevin DeYoung’s The Biggest Story in addition to the next couple of chapters of Harper Lee for tomorrow (see my review of this book here)! Reading good literature regularly sends me back to the Bible as a better reader.

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