Day After Tomorrow by G. Franklin Allee, published by Zondervan Publishing Co
Stanley Ross Scott was restless and never satisfied. From his mother he inherited a vein of materialism that caused him to grasp for the reality of power and influence and from his father he received the qualities of a dreamer to whom the future goals beckoned with such promise that goals already attained gave no satisfaction. He graduated from high school to find a university education urging him on. Each new promotion in his life as a newspaper-man made him eager for another.
For Stanley, his conscience was his guide, and he rigidly adhered to its law even in the face of personal danger and loss. He used his career as a fight against injustice, lawlessness, dirty politics and crime. The dangers, narrow escapes, losses and griefs that came to him as a result only spurred him on in the fight.
In the face of rising influence, greater power, and continuing success, Stanley remained a lonely, heartsick, unsatisfied man until, through the influence of Christian friends and the love of a Christian girl, he was led to accept Christ as his Saviour. This is the keynote of the author’s philosophy and our Beacon Lighters will realize immediately that this book does not follow our Reformed conception of the truth. Because the Arminian viewpoint is not subtly hidden, but is evident in all its error, I feel that this bock is not dangerous in the hands of our young people. However, the author’s seemingly commendable picture of Faye Ann’s death as a sacrifice of love for Stanley must be sharply criticized. What is in reality sinful and cowardly must not be presented as something noble and sweet even for the sake of the romantic.
The book is interesting and well-written but its value from a Christian point of view is questionable.
The Light in my Window by Francena H Arnold, published by Zondervan Publishing Co.
It was a frustrated and unhappy Hope Thompson, whose introvertive personality was warped with a strange complex, that found her way to the Henderson Institute to apply for a job, which required that she was a Christian and was “anyone who can boil an egg.” There she met the Kings, and Billy, and Dr. Ben, consecrated Christians whose lives were dedicated to reclaiming souls from the slum district of Sherman Street. From them she learned what it meant to be not just a Christian, but a consecrated one.
Stan Dykstra entered the circle of workers at the Institute, too, and also learned what being a real Christian meant. Through her association with these people Hope came to face her complex squarely and realized how wrong her ideas had been. She learned to know true happiness in fulfilled desires as well as in peace of heart.
This idealistic story lacks realism, but it is interesting and instructive, never-the-less. Its emphasis on consecration to the Lord and His service even in every-day life is commendable and inspirational. However, the error so prevalent in the Christian world of today—that of too much emphasis on Man’s acceptance of Jesus the Saviour, thus minimizing, if not denying the work of God Himself— is woven into the story, thus detracting from its desirability as a book for our young people.
This, My Brother by Argye M. Briggs, Published by Wm. B. Eerdman’s Publ. Co.
This story, written by the author of the well-known novel, Root Out Of Dry Ground, finds its setting in the oil fields of Texas. Josh Kenyon, a young boy just in his teens as the story opens, is the youngest son of old Colonel Kenyon, who was proud, superficially religious, and unreasonably partial to his worthless son, Ran. Josh was sickened by Ran’s escapades and hurt and angered by his father’s attitude toward Ran in spite of the fact that he was apparently aware of the way Ran lived. In high school Josh met and fell in love with Ruthie Harris. He married her when he graduated, against his father’s wishes, and took a job in the oil fields.
Later Josh took a better job in a refinery hut hard times followed. Deep trouble came to Ran leaving its hardship on Josh and the rest of the brothers; the depression came bringing troubled uncertainty; an explosion at the refinery left Josh jobless and afraid; and death came to shatter one of his fondest hopes. Josh came to such depths of hate and despair that if God had not graciously restrained him he would have killed himself.
After Josh’s conversion the hard times lifted and life gradually became easier and pleasant again, but now his problems were of a mental and spiritual nature. He had to learn to meet life’s events and responsibilities in a manner that correlated with his calling as a Christian.
Although the author of This, My Brother tells the story of Josh Kenyon’s life, yet she really tells the story of Josh himself—of his hatred and pride, his inner turmoil, his ambitions and longings, his defeat and despair. She tells, too, how his hatred was changed to pity, his pride to sorrow and humility, his turmoil to peace; and his ambitions and longings to contentment in the Lord’s way.
The story is realistic with the exception of two or three incidents that are unrealistically dramatic. It is interesting entertainment throughout and can be recommended as worthwhile reading to those who are well enough informed in our Reformed truth to detect the errors in the author’s presentation of conversion or “gittin saved” and other religious principles. Her treatment of the negro problem is thought provoking and instructive and perhaps brings out the author’s idea of her title even more than the brother relationship of Josh and Ran.
Until the Day Break by Sallie Lee Bell published by Zondervan Publishing House.
This book is the second prize winner in Zondervan’s International Fiction Contest. It is a story that was supposed to have taken place in the time of Christ. Mara, a beautiful Jewess, is a concubine of Herod, loved by the king but hated by his jealous and ambitious wife Herodias. Through Herodias’ influence she is sent from Herod’s palace to Jerusalem, where she meets and learns to love Judah a follower of John the Baptist. By clever and cruel scheming Herodias brings Mara and Judah to intense suffering and terrible shame. Mara finally comes to Jesus and finds healing for her soul and cleansing from her shame in His words, “Your sins are forgiven.” Judah is also healed by Jesus from the madness to which his suffering had driven him. However their earthly troubles are not yet over for Herod still holds power over them. In the end, Herod’s power is broken and they escape together from a gruesome and fearful death, to a life of love and freedom.
The story is easy to read and holds the reader’s interest to the last pages. The author states in the foreword that although the novel is not a true historical novel, she has attempted “to preserve the historical sequence of events and to portray the life of the period.” Whether she has succeeded in portraying the life of the period, I cannot judge, but to my mind her success is questionable. In my opinion the writing of a story such as this which presents the life and times of Christ to the readers but which is so imaginary and fictitious is not commendable. Although the author may have kept the historical sequence of events as found in the Bible, she leaves a distorted picture of these events in the minds of the impressionable readers. The picture of Jesus does not deny His divinity, nor does it positively present it. He is presented as one who exerted a strange power over the people and who brought- peace of soul to those in suffering and shame as Mara was.
From simply an entertainment point of view this book will satisfy the average reader. As a desirable addition to one’s library its recommendation is to be questioned.
Ashes of Yesterday by Dan E. L. Patch published by Zondervan Publishing House.
This Book is called an historical novel. The story begins with the birth of Grandmother Thrillby on January 26, 1837 and takes the reader through her childhood, courtship, marriage, motherhood, and grandmotherhood with more or less scarcity of detail until it leaves him with Grandmother at the age of nearly one hundred years, the final chapter in her life nearly finished.
As the author tells the story of Grandmother Thrillby he also acquaints the reader with the history of Michigan from the time it became a state on January 26, 1837, through its subsequent development and progress until the 1930’s. Some of the Civil War which occurred during Grandmother’s courtship is touched upon, and the step of progress of the Industrial Revolution are mentioned with almost as much detail as are the highlights of Grandmother’s life.
The fact that the author tries to cover so much history and so many events in a book of 224 pages of average-sized print gives one an idea of what this book is like. It is interesting and romantic, although sketchy, from an historical viewpoint, but as a novel it lacks plot and intrigue. Its Christian background lacks the positive strength of our Reformed ideals.
Nearby by Elizabeth Yates published by Coward MaCann Inc.
It was during the recent war that the story depicted in this novel was supposed to have taken place. Nearby was a little New England town, whose inhabitants were nearly all of Anglo-Saxon or Anglo-Irish stock. The swamplands with beauty in nature, but ugliness in human habitation made up the slums of this nice, respectable town that had been considered nearby to the rest of the world because it was near by two well-traveled turnpikes in the olden days, but was now in reality just an isolated village.
Mary Rowan came to Nearby to teach in the rural school there, and during the first week she realized that instead of a small undertaking it was a vastly important work. Some of the children “were simple inheritors of all that was the birthright of childhood; others were like bits of flotsam in a muddy stream, tossed about by no wish of their own, victimized by the swirling of strange dark waters.”
The story of her work with Gwen Hazen, the ward of the welfare agency, Nezar and Renny Smith, the children of a squatter in the Swamplands, and the other children of the citizens of Nearby, amidst misunderstanding and malicious rumors proves to be a very interesting story. It is spiced by Mary’s memories of Ben Allenton, one-armed Dan Bixby’s love for Mary, and Mary’s victory over the unreasoning prejudice and gossip of the village.
The philosophy in this book is definitely not Christian from a Reformed or even a Fundamentalist viewpoint. God is presented as a presence in the world, or a power in man’s mind. Prejudice, intolerance and hatred are the main evils of this world. Democracy with all it stands for of tolerance, equality, and freedom is the good to be striven for and attaint that this world may be a worthwhile place in which to live.
There is much in this book that is not for the immature reader. The sordid side of life is dealt with rather realistically although not indecently. The modem, un-christian philosophy of the story is subtly pictured in all its beautiful and appealing idealism. However there is much that would be worthwhile if it were transplanted from its worldly, man-centered setting into a God-centered, Christian view of life.
Mature and discriminating readers may read this book with profit; school teachers especially may find much that is helpful in its pages; but it cannot be recommended to our young people without reservation.
Instead of the Thorn by Bastian Kruithof published by The Half Moon Press. New York.
This is another story picturing life in the Dutch settlement that is now Holland, Michigan. All of its characters and many of its events are fictitious. This novel is not just a plot which is gradually revealed to the reader until he comes to a climax at the end of the story. There is more than action; more than just events in the lives of its characters. Not that the story lacks interest, for the story of Keesje Gombert’s life in the settlement, his love for Elaine Voskert, his life at the University at Ann Arbor, his return to the settlement to eventually claim Elaine as his bride and to take his place in the community as a teacher in the Academy makes a fascinating tale. Into the story of Keesje’s life is woven much of the life of the others in the settlement. There were those who were fanatic in their religious zeal; there were those who put their trust in their own opinions and possessions; and there were those for whom the grief that came to them in the new world was almost too much, so that only God in His grace could soften and mellow their hearts.
Throughout the story, the author weaves the dreams and ideals of these
people. Keesje and his father, Weibe, were dreamers, thinking thoughts that were strange and foolish to the other Hollanders. In telling of their dreams and their love of nature and the symbolism which they found for the former in the latter, the author gives many beautiful and graphic descriptions of the sky, the trees, the lakes, the seasons, etc. And the book is literally filled with similes. This does not make the story easier to read because such material cannot be skimmed over lightly if the reader wants to grasp the beauty the author is trying to portray.
This book may be recommended as interesting, entertaining and worthwhile. As a Christian novel it surpasses many that I have read.
Give Me Thy Vineyard by Guy Howard published by Zondervan Publ. House.
As Ahab and Jezebel, the wicked king and queen of Bible times demanded of Naboth, “Give me thy vineyard”, so the United Electric Company demanded of the simple hill folk the land in the valley in the Ozarks where they made their living on the farms their grandparents had built up to fertility and passed on to the generations following. With dishonesty and fraud the Electric Company forced the sale of these farms and in many cases paid the owners much less than the land was worth. Anger and bitterness filled the hearts of the hill people and an official of the Electric Company paid with his life.
Give Me Thy Vineyard is the story of Hiram Jackson, a big and powerful mountaineer, who was forced into the life of an outlaw, living in a cave in the mountains, hiding from even his friends, keeping secret trysts with a couple chosen friends to keep in touch with the world from which he was a fugitive: it is the story of Rose Gurney, Hiram’s fiancee, whose love and faithful devotion through the years of anxious waiting gave her lover the strength to keep his senses; it is also the story of Grady Rogers, the stranger who came to teach school at Stony Point, so that his invalid son might benefit from the fresh, clean air of the Ozarks, and found that his duties became that of a preacher as well as a teacher.
This book is the first prize winner in Zondervan’s $10,000.00 International Fiction Contest. The story gives the reader an insight into the life of the hill billy people of the Ozarks with their strange dialect, simple standard of living, and strict observance of the code of the hills.
The Christian philosophy brought out in this story sadly lacks many of the Reformed ideals we cherish. This is especially evident in the last chapter in which Grady Rogers told the hill people that before Christ would wash away their sins they must roll away the stone of stubborn refusal from the door of their heart even as the stone was rolled away from Lazarus’ tomb before Jesus called him from death to life. The Christianity of the hill people and the ministry of Grady Rogers is characterized by the shallow simplicity of our Arminian fellow Christians. Merely as a novel, the book may be considered a good book—very well written, interesting, and easily read; but as a Christian novel it does not fulfill our requirements.
A Land I Will Show Thee, by Marian Schooland, published by Wm. Eerdman’s Co.
This is a story of faith and courage: faith in the sovereign God Who guides His people according to His purpose, and courage to follow in the way that He leads. It is the story of the pioneers who left their fatherland under the leadership of their beloved pastor and friend, Albertus Van Raalte, and came to the forests of Michigan to make their home on the shores of Black Lake. Economic stress heightened by religious persecution and a simultaneous widespread urge for emigration to the New World caused many of the Seceders who had left the Groute Kerk because they felt that it had forsaken the doctrines of the Bible, to feel that God was leading them to forsake their fatherland to establish a church in the New World and witness for Him there.
The plot centers around the simple but entrancing romance of Anton Berghuis and Anna Faber. Anton leaves his homeland with his family and the promise that he may send for Anna when he can provide a home there for her that is “as good as the one she is used to”. The story of their heartaches and loneliness and of their long-postponed reunion in the “colony” is a fascinating and stirring tale.
But there is much more in this book that holds the interest of the reader. The simple, trusting faith of these common people as they tore themselves from their homes and loved ones in the Netherlands and followed God’s leading into a new country with hardships, poverty, sickness and death awaiting them; the courageous faith of Albertus Van Raalte as he fed his flock from God’s Word and encouraged and comforted them; the dreams and ambitions, hopes and aspirations of these people and their leader that God saw fit to bring into reality these grip the heart of the reader and leave a lasting impression on his mind.
In her introduction to this story of the Dutch emigrants Miss Schoolland writes: “Many of the people who walk its pages are fictitious, but Van Raalte, Brummelkamp, the Americans who so nobly aided the colonists, were men who grappled with the problems of a hundred years ago and helped make the history of our company. And the events of my story are, almost without exception, based upon the records of these pioneer days.”
In concluding her story, Miss School land gives us a glimpse of the present, picturing what God has given to the descendants of these noble pioneers. I think that in closing this book the reader who cherishes the Reformed truths will not only feel that he has read a beautiful story but he will experience a flood of thankfulness for what God hath wrought in preserving the true interpretation of His Word. It is simply written, easily read, and worthy of recommendation to our young people.
Beyond The Atom is an appraisal of our Christian faith in this age of atomic science. It is written by Dr. John De Vries, professor of chemistry at Calvin College.
In the author’s preface he states, “This book is designed to show that the only source of power lies in God. It is addressed primarily to orthodox Christians to strengthen their faith. . . . The non-Christian may see design in the universe but he will never find there the loving Father who gave His Son for our redemption. But if we have learned to know God aright by His Word we can obtain a clearer picture of His greatness from a study of the world which He created.”
The author does not refute or ridicule the findings of scientific study and the scientific data which we now have, nor does he condone the theories and hypotheses of the non-Christian scientists who seek to explain all things without God. He warns Christians not to hang their head in shame when accused of being intolerant and prejudiced, and shows that the Christian approach towards the findings of science is a logical one based on faith in the God who created heaven and earth. Throughout the book he shows how illogical, prejudiced and blind is the approach of the scientist who reasons without God. He brings out the need that more of us as Christians should study the problems of science and should know the errors presented by the non-Christian scientists so that we may testify of our faith and exert the influence that we should in the world about us.
This book is written so that the laymen who has no formal training in science can read and understand it. There are parts of it that deal with technicalities of such a nature as to be puzzling to the average reader even though written in the simplest terms unless he has had at least some education in the basic facts of chemistry and physics. However some of the chapters are thrilling revelation of the greatness of an Almighty God to the reader who has never dreamed that the things of this universe are so incomprehensible to our finite minds.
I feel that this book is to be recommended not only to the intellectual readers of Beacon Lights; but anyone who is willing to put forth some effort of concentration as he reads this book will enjoy it and profit from it.
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