The Book Report

The Book Report (1,190)

June 27th, 2011

The young man was given his assignment. He was to read three books in thirty days and give a detailed report on each one. The three books were The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, written by L. Frank Baum, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.

On the morning of the thirtieth day, the student obediently turned in his compilation. It was a single page. On the paper was written the following:

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum

It is a story about small people who are usually happy as long as they can stay away from witches.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Getting great financial gain is good, as long as you don’t eat too late at night and have bad dreams.

And finally:

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

All whales are white and want to eat people.

The End

The teacher was greatly disappointed and asked the student to stay after class to discuss his conclusions. The teacher decided to inquire why the student hadn’t picked up the message of, “There’s no place like home” from The Wizard of Oz, and the need for generosity and kindness from A Christmas Carol, and that vengeance is the surest way to destroy one’s life, derived from the tale of Moby Dick.

The young man looked at the teacher quizzically. “Well, I can see how you got that out of the books, but since I don’t agree with any of those things, I just chose to ignore them.”

Likewise, I often wonder what would happen if you asked the average Christian to give a book report on the Bible. What central themes would appear in such an essay? Would they be able to evaluate the lasting message or would they focus on individual chapters they had grown fond of in their reading?

Sitting in a church yesterday morning, three lessons were offered. One was about Jeremiah, the prophet, and one of his arch rivals, who ended up giving a false report and, according to the story, was killed by God for his lack of accuracy. The second was from the Epistles, where Paul told all of us that the wages of sin is death and that our true goal is to be “slaves of righteousness.” The final reading was from the Gospels, relating Jesus’ sharing about the importance of giving a cup of cold water in his name, and how valuable it is.

As I sat there and listened to the very eloquent gentleman read these passages, I wondered what possible link we think they would have. And yet, it is often the duty of the local pastor to provide muscle and sinew—to attach these “bony” verses together. It just makes me smile.

What would be my book report on the Bible? I’m sure I would be tempted to elaborate on the evolution of the volume, from book to book, as human beings discovered the uselessness of being small people, fearing witches, pursuing money for money’s sake and dodging being eaten by whales. But at the end of my document I would have to agree that “there is no place like home”—because “home” is where we come to the conclusion that the entire book is about “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

I would have to decide that the Bible is not about accumulating wealth or finding ways to become prosperous, but instead, multiplying our talents so we can take care of our own needs and bless the people who cross our paths. And the best way to keep from steering your vessel into a whale of trouble is to cease to hold a grudge against others, and realize we’re all humans—and in this together.

You may come up with different conclusions in your book report, but I think if you focus on the storylines that don’t feature the main character—Jesus—and you try to get too lengthy in your explanation, you lose the real beauty of the message of the book.

And the beauty is simple: God loves me—and you look a lot like me.

Published in: on June 27, 2011 at 3:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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