Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Saint Maybe: The Novel for a People-Centric Church

In the beginning pages of his autobiography, Pastor, Eugene Peterson uses the title from Anne Tyler's book Saint Maybe as a bridge for his vocation: Pastor Maybe. I read Pastor too quick the first time to pay much attention to the novel, but during my second reading I took notice.  

I finished the novel and I implore you to read it.  There are many fabulous reasons why I loved this novel: the title, the Church of the Second Chance, the role of hymns and prayers, a serious attempt to make amends (not just repentance and reconciliation but repair!), and the hard work of community.  But this novel may be the novel for a church that relies more on walking, bicycling, and taking public transit.  Yes, some of the characters have cars, but not all of them.  In fact, the main family shares one car.  Yes, some have driver's licenses, but not all of them.  

Anne Tyler uses the time the characters walk to church or bicycle in the neighborhood or take the bus across town as key elements to move the plot and develop characters.  Yes, there are scenes important scenes in cars, but not many; the novel is not auto-centric.  

For me this novel reveals what a people-centric church looks like, rather than a car-centric.  Cars are still needed and relevant, but they are not primary.  The primary means of transit are walking, bicycling, and public transit.  Also, this novel reveals the tough work of forgiveness; transforming from car-centric to people-centric is not going to be easy!  

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