2005-08-27 / People

Reverend Carroll Brings Bible Stories to Life With New Youth Book

By Jessica Delaney

Living in a “fast food culture,” it is sometimes difficult to fit God into daily life, or to make the stories of the Bible appeal to a younger generation. But the Reverend Vincent Carroll of Little Stone Church is trying to change all that with his new book, “Biblical Characters With An Attitude.”

The book was taken from a series of children’s sermons that Rev. Carroll gave. He would use short, rhyming characterizations of different parts of the Bible to tell the stories to children, and he used them also in his confirmation classes and Bible studies.

His congregation told him that the stories worked as well for the adults as for the children.

After some years at this, he had collected quite a few short rhymes, two to three minutes long, and he set about to publish them in a book.

“For a lot of people, it takes years to find a style to emit core values, and to transfer the ethical core values,” said Rev. Carroll. “But then you finally find the stovepipe that resonates with people, and it becomes a book.”

The idea behind the book is to reintroduce biblical characters with urban flavor. It is not an interpretation of the Bible, or even a reflection, it simply is a retelling of classic stories through rhythm and rhyme. The setting is still in biblical times, but with modern day references, such as to Nike and Enron.

“This is not changing the value of the Word, but trying to contemporize it,” said Rev. Carroll.

The book features 34 characterizations, or retellings, of biblical events. Stories range from Old Testament tales to New Testament, from Adam and Eve and the story of creation to the ascension of Jesus into heaven. According to Rev. Carroll, it was an easy matter for him to decide which 34 stories would make the cut for the book.

“As a pastor for 38 years, it’s obvious what the main plot is,” he said. “You could go through a thousand people, but we just want to highlight the people who carry the oral and written tradition.”

The main plot, of both the book and all of life, said Rev. Carroll, is God’s activity in creating the world. “Biblical Characters With An Attitude” focuses on this plot through a series of stand-alone stories. According to Rev. Carroll, the book is meant for all ages. It works well with youth because of the rhyming scheme and the rhythm. He did say that some of the references may be above the heads of eight and nine year olds, appealing to a more mature audience.

“What’s desired is that people will go back and read it again, because these are short, enjoyable reads of classical stories with important moral history,” said Rev. Carroll. “Maybe it will lead them to delve even deeper, and go back to scripture. The ethical proclivity of these characters is timely. It spoke to the sordid issues of their day and is ultimately transferable to our time here and now.”

The book is currently available at The Island Bookstore, and Rev. Carroll is also marketing it in several small independent and Christian bookstores in Michigan, Iowa, and Florida.

He does not consider himself a writer. He writes as a hobby, he said, with no goal and no false sense of humility.

“This is one of the most fun things I’ve ever done,” he said. “It’s really for reasons of personal rectitude, history, and personal enjoyment.”

Rev. Carroll is also working on two other projects at the moment: “Poems from DaNang, Vietnam” and “The Bible in 66 Pages.”

“Poems from DaNang” is about his first year in the Navy, while in Vietnam. The book, which is about half-finished, will feature around 100 pages of poetry along with black and white photos.

“The Bible in 66 Pages” may sound intimidating, but Rev. Carroll said it should not prove to be too difficult to write. The Bible has 66 books, and each book will receive one page. He is looking forward to the project.

“That’s the challenge of writing, to be short, poignant, and expressive,” he said. “After years of working, molding, and applying the biblical models and stories, I can reduce it to a page.”

The upcoming book will also be told through a combination of rhythm and rhyme, without losing the meaning behind the stories.

Rev. Carroll will be available for a book signing Sunday, September 4, at The Island Bookstore, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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