The late Steve Jobs acts as surprising inspiration for my YA faith-based book, PRODIGAL. PRODIGAL is a YA faith-based book that deals with love being found in unexpected places.
The main character, seventeen-year-old Lexy Quinn, comes from a family that doesn’t believe in God. I wrote her mother as an archetype for those who have never had any religious beliefs. As described in the book, Mrs. Quinn “has the religious compass of an ADD hippie” and has dabbled in Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, and even New Age spiritualism without ever choosing one.But for Mr. Quinn and my YA faith-based book, I thought it would be interesting to have a representative from the other end of the nonreligious spectrum—someone who once had faith and then lost it. Somewhere in between rewriting PRODIGAL Steve Jobs passed away, and I stumbled across an article about his death. I’d heard long ago that Mr. Jobs had been an atheist but for some reason I’d assumed he’d always been that way:
Even though they were not fervent about their faith, Jobs’ parents wanted him to have a religious upbringing, so they took him to the Lutheran church most Sundays. That came to an end when he was thirteen. In July 1968 “Life” magazine published a shocking cover showing a pair of starving children in Biafra. Jobs took it to Sunday school and confronted the church’s pastor. “If I raise my finger, will God know which one I’m going to raise even before I do it? The pastor answered, “Yes, God knows everything.” Jobs then pulled out the “Life” cover and asked, “Well, does God know about this and what’s going to happen to those children?” “Steve, I know you don’t understand, but yes, God knows about that.” Jobs announced that he didn’t want to have anything to do with worshipping such a God, and he never went back to church.
It made me wonder. At thirteen, Mr. Jobs decided that he didn’t want anything to do with a God he couldn’t understand, but what if at an older age, Mr. Jobs had come back and asked the question again. Would he have changed his mind? This premise was the setup for the life story of Mr. Quinn and much of the religious backbone of my YA faith-based book.
EXCERPT FROM PRODIGAL
“Why don’t we go to church?”
He blinked rapidly. “What?”
“What happened to you? Why don’t you believe in God?”
He sighed for a long time before answering. “It’s not that I don’t believe in God.”
This was news to me. “What the— but we never do Christmas? Or Easter? And you told me organized religion was for idiots?”
He waved his hand, quieting me. “Maybe I was the idiot.”
“Okay, now I’m totally confused.” Who was this person and what did he do with my real father?
“When I was young, my parents used to make me go to church. I know you never met him, but my father was a devout Christian.”
My father slid down in the desk chair. “When I was seventeen, my best friend Jeffrey was
killed in a car accident. He was hit by a drunk driver.”
I gasped. “Oh, Dad—“
“Even after all this time, I still remember it like it was yesterday. After it happened, I asked the pastor, did God know about Jeff? Did God know that Jeff’s eighteenth birthday was in a week and his father already spent all of their savings to send their only son to college? That Jeff was the first in his family to ever graduate high school? I asked the pastor, did God know all of that?”
“And what did he say?”
“He said yes, God knows everything.”
The pain I saw on my dad’s face made me want to cry for him.
“I told my parents that day that I didn’t want anything to do with a God like that, and I never went back.”
It was the same thing I’d told Peyton earlier.
“You were right,” I said.
He shook his head at me. “I’m not sure that’s true. The pastor called my house a few times after that, but I never answered. Sometimes I wonder what might have happened if I had. I think about what he might have said and how my life might’ve been different if I’d listened.”© 2012 Ic13 Books
For more on Steve Jobs and musings on his life, death, and God, I highly encourage you to read the following article “”Life” – there’s not an App for that” written by a very talented friend of mine, Mr. Ryan Bricker. If you read it, let me know what you think here. Want more of PRODIGAL? Pick up your copy here: