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God is for Real, Man is a collection of Bible stories by Carl F. Burke, 128 pages long and published in 1966. It's a unique collection because it's paraphrase is done in the street vernacular of the day -- slang, curse words, and all. It was written with the help of kids aged seven and seventeen who he worked with as an inner-city youth counselor. Some of the passages are quite poignant, innocence from children who might be presumed to have lost theirs long ago.

Burke gives this story as the reasoning behind his writing of the book:

"Mister, what's God like?" That's the question that started this book. It was asked several years ago on a trail leading to the campfire circle at Camp Vick, the Western New York Baptist Camp. The answer to the seemingly simple question came without the slightest hesitation, and with the authority of a theological education, plus several years' experience as a pastor, and above all with the confidence that was expected of an 'adult leader.' "God," was the answer, "is like a father."

The reply from the boy came slowly and devastated the adult leader, his experience, his theological education, and the confidence that is expected of an 'adult leader.' "Hah," the boy said with much venom, "if he's like my father I sure would hate him." The rest of the trip to the fire circle was made in silence. The 'adult leader' was never the same again.

Also illuminating is one child's interpretation of Psalm 23, the one that goes "The Lord is my shepherd," etc. The child had grown up without any parental guidance or love, and the only person who had shown any interest in his path was his probation officer. Since the book is difficult to find and no longer in print, I present the interpretation in full, and call upon the Divine Edict of Fair Use to cast its grace upon my path.

The Lord is like my Probation Officer,
He will help me,
He tries to help me make it every day.

He makes me play it cool
And feel good inside of me.

He shows me the right path
So I'll have a good record,
And he'll have one too.

Because I trust him,
And that ain't easy,
I don't worry too much about
What's going to happen.
Just knowing he cares about
Me helps me.

He makes sure I have my food
And that Mom fixes it.
He helps her stay sober
And that makes me feel good
All over.

He's a good man, I think,
And he is kind;
And these things will stay
With me.
And when I'm kind and good
Then I know the Lord
Is with me like the Probation Officer.

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