Named after a diminutive budgie, Scot McKnight's The Blue Parakeet (Zondervan) offers itself as a charming book to which no one will take exception. The cover even features the eponymous bird perched cutely on a pair of binoculars.
This playful title is shrewd, because the book's subtitle, Rethinking How You Read the Bible, ushers readers into the volatile area of biblical hermeneutics. Compared with writing a book about birds, writing about a new way to read the Bible is about as tame as dancing on the hood of a moving car with no one at the wheel.
McKnight doubles down on potential peril by directing his efforts at some of the most uncomfortable issues in Scripture. Many oft-neglected verses are relatively mild, such as the ones about foot washing and borrowing money with interest. These commandments elicit a "whatever" shrug from many Christians. But there are other verses, such as the ones about homosexuality and women in ministry that, if ignored, may elicit anger from the same Christians who never wash each other's feet and unthinkingly pay 6 percent on their mortgages.
The book's controlling metaphor highlights the problem. Accustomed to watching sparrows eat peaceably in his own backyard, McKnight one day observed a blue parakeet "terrorizing" his usual backyard visitors. The parakeet was no doubt an escaped pet that now flaunted his liberty by frightening innocent sparrows with shrill cries and avian athletics. Though colorful, the bird disrupted the author's predictable bird-watching routine. Substitute the phrase "awkward Scriptures" for the blue parakeets in the following passage, and you have the book's premise:
Sometimes we hope blue parakeets will go away. … Or perhaps we shoo them away. Or perhaps we try ...1