Part of my fun reading this summer has been catching up on Grisham novels -- the last couple and one I missed several years ago, The Street Lawyer. I especially loved the last one. Years ago I interviewed Grisham for Wineskins Magazine because I loved the way he brought his faith to his writing without turning them into "Christian fiction" (which tends to be pale and rarely reaches anyone on the outside). All right, so he isn't James Joyce. But come on, did you really enjoy having to read Finnegan's Wake? Street Lawyer is a great moral tale -- of a young DC lawyer who's been busting his hump (and distancing his wife) while pursuing the magical dollars that come from partnership. His world was all about bucks: the right car, the right apartment, the right restaurants, the right vacations. And then one day he came face-to-face with death when a homeless man who had been booted on the streets by his law firm took him and a handful of other lawyers hostage. Meeting this man, observing his sudden death by a sharpshooter, and digging into his background introduced him to a world that is not about worshiping dollars. He found an underground where people are seeking justice and working for humanity -- not trying to see how many billable hours they can rack up while charging $50 lunches to their clients. And everyone thought he was crazy. He had been confronted, through fear of death, with the values of the kingdom. And no one -- including his church-going parents -- understood him. (Note: others can meet the radical claims of the kingdom and make radical changes in their lives without switching careers, of course. But they can never be the same.) He flies to Memphis to talk to his parents. He says, "I rented a car at the Memphis airport and drove east into the sprawling suburbs where the white people lived. The blacks had the city; the whites, the suburbs. Sometimes the blacks would move into a subdivision, and the whites would move to another one, farther away. Memphis crept eastward, the races running from each other." Here's the sceen from his golf game with his dad, when he tries to explain why he might leave a job with a six-figure income and astronomical perks in the future for a job defending the defenseless for $30K a year. "Late that afternoon my dad and I did nine holes. He played; I drank beer and drove the cart. Golf had yet to work its magic on me. Two cold ones and I was ready to talk. I had repeated the Mister tale [the story of the homeless man who took them hostage] over lunch, so he figured I was just loafing for a couple of days, collecting myself before I roared back into the arena. "'I'm getting kind of sick of the big firm, Dad,' I said as we sat by the third tee, waiting for the foursome ahead to clear. I was nervous, and my nervousness irritated me greatly. It was my life, not his. "'What's that supposed to mean?' "'Means I'm tired of what I'm doing.' "'Welcome to the real world. You think the guy working a drill press in a factory doesn't get tired of what he's doing? At least you're getting rich.' "So he took round one, almost by a knockout. Two holes later, as we stomped through the rough looking for his ball, he said, 'Are you changing jobs?' "'Thinking about it.' "'Where are you going?' "'I don't know. It's too early. I haven't been looking for another position.' "'Then how do you know the grass is greener if you haven't been looking?' He picked up his ball and walked off. "I drove alone on the narrow paved trail while he stalked down the fiarway chasing his shot, and I wondered why that gray-haired man out there scared me so much. He had pushed all of his sons to set goals, work hard, strive to be Big Men, with everything aimed at making lots of money and living the American dream. He had certainly paid for anything we needed. "Like my brothers, I was not born with a social conscience. We gave offerings to the church because the Bible strongly suggests it. We paid taxes to the government because the law requires it. Surely, somewhere in the midst of all this giving some good would be done, and we had a hand in it. Politics belonged to those willing to play that game, and besides, there was no money to be made by honest people. We were taught to be productive, and the more success we attained, the more society would benefit, in some way. Set goals, work hard, play fair, achieve prosperity. "He double-bogeyed the fifth hole, and was blaming it on his putter when he climbed into the cart. "'Maybe I'm not looking for greener pastures,' I said. "'Why don't you just go ahead and say what you're trying to say?' he said. As usual, I felt weak for not facing the issue boldly. "'I'm thinking about public interest law.' "'What the hell is that?' "'It's when you work for the good of society without making a lot of money.' "'What are you, a Democrat now? You've been in Washington too long.' "'There are lots of Republicans in Washington. In fact, they've taken over.' "We rode to the next tee in silence. He was a good golfer, but his shots were getting worse. I'd broken his concentration. "Stomping through the rough again, he said, 'So some wino gets his head blown off and you gotta change society. Is that it?' "'He wasn't a wino. He fought in Vietnam.' "Dad flew B-52's in the early years of Vietnam, and this stopped him cold. But only for a second. He wasn't about to yield an inch. 'One of those, huh?' "I didn't respond. The ball was hopelessly lost, and he wasn't really looking. He flipped another onto the fairway, hooked it badly, and away we went. "'I hate to see you blow a good career, son,' he said. 'You've worked too hard. You'll be a partner in a few years.' "'Maybe.' "'You need some time off, that's all.' "That seemed to be everybody's remedy." What a great scene. Whenever you wake up from the thick fog of materialism and the American Dream, people think you're a lunatic.