A few weeks ago I received for review a copy of the book, Tales of a Mad Mystic: New Parables to Amuse and Confuse Seekers of Truth. The book is a self-published work and written by “John the Methodist,” a nom de plume or penname of the author who (presently) wishes to remain anonymous. The book is available for purchase through Amazon marketplace.
The book is arranged into eight groups of parables. The groups are cleverly titled to reflect the nature of the parable(s) they head. Most of the little narratives are less than ten pages in length making the book a relatively quick read. While a reader could easily read this collection in a single sitting or two, I wouldn’t recommend doing so. The parables invite consideration and reflection in order to fully appreciate what the author offers to the reader. Personally, I found reading one group of parables at a time to be the most beneficial practice allowing me time to consider several lessons within a theme before moving on to the next subject group. Overall, I liked the book and found it thought-provoking on many levels.
Before the reader begins the first group of parables, John the Methodist includes ten articles of religion (actually he calls them The Ten Great Laws of Organized Religion). While I found these “great laws” humorous, often chuckling out loud as I read them, I was also saddened by the truth of them. Interestingly, I do not think these articles of religion were random, but they served as a backdrop for the parables themselves…
The synopsis from the back cover of the book states that, “All the stories in this book are amusing and childlike in their simplicity, but, look a little deeper and you may find much more.” I think this claim is fair and accurate. I did not encounter any great and profound truth, but I was stirred to think and I agree that the stories included in Tales could be an excellent tool for discussion groups.
I think each person will find their favorites from this little collection of narratives; I landed on a few that I particularly liked. The parables that appealed especially to me were; The Bishop and the Begger, The Reluctant Ruler, Heirlooms, Jaws, Speak No Evil, and ALERT LA318… I can’t tell you why, you’ll have to read the book and come to your own conclusions and favorites.
A parable is supposed to be brief and succinct…even simplistic in order to portray a simple, and often universal, truth. The parable is often devoid of back story and character development, but this does not mean they are not skillfully and intricately woven in their simplicity of meaning. If I have any criticism of the Tales (constructively intended), it would be the intended “aha” moment for some of the stories. In several of the parables, John the Methodist, drew me into a narrative; my curiosity piqued…anticipating the next turn of the page…when suddenly the story dropped very flatly and abruptly. In these instances I was left unfulfilled and slightly disappointed. I think, gauging from the delight I found in some of the other parables, and given a little more thought…these lackluster stories could have been much more invoking and insightful. All in all, I give the book a “thumbs up” approval. Tales of a Mad Mystic is a good read and most readers will find something in this collection of tales that bring them enjoyment.