2006-07-15 / People

Reverend Carroll Infuses Bible With Some 'Attitude'

By Bernie Nguyen

Rev. Vincent Carroll Rev. Vincent Carroll For any Sunday school student accustomed to the genealogies of the Bible, the characters and historical figures that comprise its pages may seem disconnected and unreachable. The Reverend Vincent Carroll, pastor at Little Stone Church, has breathed new life into the apostles, kings, and prophets of both the Old and New Testament, however, with his new book, "Biblical Characters with An Attitude." He gave a reading as the first of three authors in the Summer Author Series at Mackinac Island Public Library Friday, June 30.

Rev. Carroll, who served for 27 years as a chaplain in the U.S. Navy, gave a little background on how he fell into writing poetry by detailing his experience at a writing workshop at the University of Iowa. One of the precepts he learned there, he explained, was, "Don't write about anything you haven't experienced." By taking the experience of reading the Bible and translating it into contemporary poetry, Rev. Carroll succeeded in making characters such as John the Baptist and the Apostles more relevant to present times.

About five years ago, Rev. Carroll explained, at a church in Manchester, he saw children learning scripture struggle with the characters. He detailed how he became interested in exploring the personalities and attitudes of the figures he was reading about. He said he felt that to relate the people who walked Biblical history to young men and women today, there needed to be a connection. For his book, he chose rhythm, he explained to listeners, as prose too easily became stuffy or complicated.

By using poetry, he allowed the integrity of the characters to remain while shifting them to a style and setting reminiscent of rap or reggae. The rhythm of the poems, he said, is so easily translatable to music that a musician friend of his has asked for the rights to put some of the poems to music.

Rev. Carroll explained that his book "takes a picture of a dramatic character in the Bible, moves it out of context," uses a rap style to retell the moral of the story, and "slides in a little attitude." Feedback from churches and Sunday schools who are using the books in their confirmation programs has been good thus far, he said.

Children get a sense, rhythmically, said Rev. Carroll, and then it is easier for them to begin to understand the story.

The success of the book has led him to sign with a publisher, Peppertree Press, whereas before he was self-publishing with a company he started with his brothers. Twenty-four characters have been added to the original edition to make 50 poems for the new book.

"Biblical Characters with an Attitude" is available at many Island stores.

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