Spencer Allen has drawn from his local spiritual talks and theology essays for parents to compile "Mackerel Snappers." This is the first non-fiction work published by the lifelong Mid-Missourian and local educator.
"I poured the very best of what I do with apologetics into this book," Allen said.
The 340-page paperback has sold nationally and in Europe.
But Allen's main goal was for local use, he said.
After future talks, no matter the topic, Allen will be able to follow up with this resource for more detail, he said.
The title refers to an old-time slander toward Catholics, who could eat no meat other than fish on Fridays.
Perhaps many people followed the directive without understanding why. And perhaps others judged the believers without full understanding.
Allen sorts out the truth and the explanations through a conversational delivery and with anecdotal experiences.
As the subtitle suggests, "How to explain even the most difficult teachings about God and his Catholic Church."
The book received the imprimatur approval from Bishop John Gaydos, which means it adheres to the Catholic doctrine.
But the book has something to offer everyone.
For Protestants, it may give them a better understanding of Catholicism.
For unbelievers, it may enlighten their perspective.
Beginning with an incomplete or incorrect definition often is the root of disbelief or conflict, Allen points out.
Deeply thought-provoking issues are addressed so middle schoolers and well-read adults alike may learn.
Allen compared the work to C.S. Lewis' "Mere Christianity."
Many of the experiences Allen shares are personal and rarely come up in regular conversations.
Yet, they provide a starting point for readers to relate to some topics that might be uncomfortable or difficult.
"We shy away because we don't want to offend people," Allen said. "But we can have conversations without being judgmental."
Catholics will find the value of listening to those with other beliefs and how to find common ground.
For some church-goers, they may follow a religious pattern because they were told to, but they may not know the "why" behind it, Allen said.
"Mackerel Snappers" equips Catholic readers with the "why," which will help them explain their faith to others, he said.
Neither a priest nor a deacon, Allen said as a lay person he is carrying out the Biblical mandate or what has been called the "new evangelization."
Simply, that means the priests are not the only ones with the responsibility to spread the Gospel.
In 1 Peter 3:15 and Jude verse 3, followers of Jesus are encouraged to be prepared to share their faith with gentleness and respect.
"We need more people talking about it," Allen said. Hopefully, this book will "embolden them to talk in non-judgmental ways."