Thursday, March 30, 2006


Ok, I know it's not April yet but I just finished A Chance to Die and it's covered in post-in notes. I have to write my review now.

I had read the children's version of her biography entitled With Daring Faith way back when with some girls in my Sunday School class. I was impressed with Amy Carmichael and loved her daring doings. Years later, when I discovered the book A Chance to Die I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. I've been wanting to read it for about three years now and finally stumbled across the book in a used book store a couple of months ago. Elation!

Now I'm glad I bought it used.

Where do I begin? I eagerly leapt into this book only to find myself screaming over several passages and, like I said, making extreme use of the post-it note. I did wish to chunk this book across the room on multiple occasions and if you've gotten your hands on a copy of it, you know it's a book that could cause some damage if tossed, let alone directly aimed.

For one, I knew that Amy and I were entirely opposite of each other when I discovered that, "She hated exclamation points on a printed page. When her publishers arbitrarily inserted them in Things as They Are she was incensed. 'So fussy. They give an idea of overemphasis.'"

When I think of who I could compare Amy to, the name Bill Gothard springs to mind. Over and over again. From her views on women's clothing (never let the ankle show!) to her views on the potential separation of families in ministry. I think the most telling sentence in the entire book, and the one that makes me think of Gothard the most is on page 266 where it states, "Those who could not bring themselves to subscribe to the standard Amy believed she had received from God were, in her view, turning away from Him."

I can take an individual owning a different opinion than myself. There is plenty of room in the body of Christ for diversity of personality and talent. What I do not take kindly to is the insinuation that one person has been given great wisdom and insight, and if the rest of us do not follow suit, we are misguided and, perhaps worse yet, nominal Christians (a phrase she seemed someone keen on). There is no grace is such an opinion and I find there is little to argue against it with. I find it highly unfortunate in situations such as the Donhnavur Fellowship (otherwise known as "DF" and hereinafter referred to as "The Compound."). There were multiple opportunities for Amy to welcome outside help/missionaries/friends to help with the work. Who is to say what great contributions and advancements could be made in not just the education of the children, but the general health and well-being of them? As the book stated time and time again, there was no disagreement found in the Compound. Amy's word was law. Those who disagreed were asked to leave or left on their own accord. Strangely enough, she never seemed to find this unusual. "There is no instance on record of Amy's accepting another's guidance after she believed she had been given clear guidance in a matter." (page 352)

It seems clear from the book that she found females to be the dominate sex in the species. "It was often said that the men's work was spiritually at a lower level than the women's." (page 300) I think this attitude towards men is very telling in the example of the Indian who had been in the Dohnavur camp for awhile and asked another of the men whether "the men found it difficult to work under female authority." "One hundred percent of them, " was [Taylor's] reply. "But the women? Never, in all my wanderings, have I seen thirty or forty women live together in such harmony as I saw in the DF." (page 284) My mind boggles at the complete disregard given to the strength and wisdom of men. I find this utterly distasteful and a slap in the face of the men who came to over their skills and talents (in the hospital and otherwise) and were constantly curtailed by what Amy felt was right.

Now, before I go on (and I could go on and on and on) I should say that I find it completely comprehensible that God could and would give an individual such wisdom and insight as to carry out so great a work as Amy Carmichael did. I do not wish to downplay the benefits and blessings she brought to Indians, particularly the young girls. Her work was admirable. What I am bothered by is her complete disregard for the form and function of the body of Christ. There seemed to be little to no room for another individual's opinion, skills or talents. There seemed to be lack of consideration towards the feelings and/or callings of others. The amount of times the title "nominal Christian" was used towards people who weren't willing to, say, travel third class every where they went, is, quite frankly, appalling.

BTW, I do not begrudge her the desire to "go the lowly route" and travel third class. I would not begrudge anyone that preference, if that was what they felt they were called to do. Nor would I find fault with anyone who chose not to read novels. But to label another person "nominal" who chose the comforts of first class or chose to read a great novel is below the belt and uncalled for. That is what I find disturbing and I'm unable to appreciate many of her works as a result.

I also stand staunchly opposed to her views on separating a husband and wife who were either once called together or separately to the ministry. The book gives two examples of such a thing. On page 299 we are told the story of an Indian couple who were separated, at first, due to adequate housing. This arrangement was initiated by Amy. The family remained separated for the rest of their lives. The running phrase was, "Nothing but the king's business." I would argue that if a person marries, part of that King's business is remaining faithfully devoted to the person God gave to you to be with. To forsake them for another person's idea of what is right or wrong for you is just plain hogwash. If married the husband is to love the wife an the wife to respect the husband. A couple can never learn to do this if they are permanently separated. There was another story told of a couple that ministered within the Compound when the wife decided to take their young child back to England for his education. Once in England, for whatever reason, she decided to stay and asked for her husband to join her. Amy thought such a request was ridiculous as she did not wish to lose the husband to the work at hand. She encouraged him to stay. The missionary board over him commanded his immediate return to his wife. Amy felt the man had been given no choice although she regretted him going. This is unimaginable to me. To think it right and proper to separate a husband and wife, a child and father?

I have many more post-it notes to go and a few more good rants, but I shall stop here without getting into education, the idea of exposing the children to outside influences so as to build up their maturity in Christ, and/or her views on personal prayer requests. Needless to say, I did not see eye-to-eye with her on any of these matters.

Am I grateful for her work in India? Yes. Do I think it was an admirable life's choice? Yes. In and of itself I have nothing to say against it. What rankles is the fact that if you did not choose to see things as she saw them or do things as she did them, you were not viewed as "on the level", shall we say? I find it hard to admire an individual who is so close-minded so as to leave no room for the opinions and idea of others or, as the book mentioned, to doubt their calling. I can only imagine the frustration felt by those who considered themselves "called" to the work (who can say for sure?) who did not find a twin in Amy and were disillusioned to the work. I find that, at best, pitiable.

In short (haha) I did not like this book.


Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Ready to pick May's books?

Reading through the list of various books y'all have recommended we read, I would suggest the following:

1. Inkheart - by Cornelia Funke (Anneke);
2. 'Till We Have Faces - C.S. Lewis (Rose);
3. The Man Who Knew Too Much - by G.K. Chesterton (Erika); and

4. I don't know. I like Sky's pick so much last month I'm inclined to go with whatever she says. I'd throw out "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" by Mark Twain or "The House on the Strand" by Daphne Du Maurier as suggestions but if Sky has something fun in mind, I'm all for that! =D What say ye all?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

At The Back of the North Wind

It took me awhile to sit down and read it, and then once I started I smiled and remembered how much I loved it!
I enjoy the writing style, it's so simple and sweet but it has so much hidden meaning. I love the story, it's sort of a Pilgrims Progress in a way, we all walk the same Path of Life but we all walk it differently.

I love that Diamond was named for his Daddy's favorite horse. If my horse didn't have such a weird name I might have done the same thing...

The end leaves you with so much hope because you know that Diamond's adventure has just begun and he can stay forever in the place that was so special to him.

It reminds me of the end in the last book of Narnia, they are sad because they don't want to leave again and Aslan tells them that they don't have to because they will stay forever and it isn't the end of anything but it's the beggining of everything!

Monday, March 13, 2006



I recently discovered MacDonald at a garage sale for a dime. I vaguely recalled having heard his name in home school circles and so for $0.10 I devoured The Light Princess and fell in love. I love his princess stories so I was particularly delighted to find a princess story within the Back of the North Wind. It's like a two-for-one deal!

At any rate, occasionally Diamond reminded me of a male version of Elsie Dinsmore. All his responses were perfect and he always had a delightful attitude, etc. Children like that make me sick because they are beyond perfection. Despite that, I was able to concentrate enough on North Wind and thoroughly enjoy the book.

My favorite part was when North Wind had to sink the ship. I get so tired of the modern day question, "If God is good why did He allow thus and such to happen?" I thought MacDonald answered that well by having North Wind explain that sinking the ship WAS good. Although some things may be painful for us to watch and to bear, ultimately they are for our good. Things we don't understand have meaning. J & I just watched "The Hiding Place" and one of the Ten Boom's fellow prisoners asked how God could allow such suffering with the creation and sustaining of the concentration camps. Betsy Ten Boom answered, "To teach us to obey Him." I though MacDonald did a nice job saying the same thing. We need to hang tight to God's hand, trust and obey. Easier said than done but delightfully expressed in this story.

Anyway, it was fun to read another MacDonald story but after reading a few of his books in a row I'm ready to move onto something else. My copy of Beekeeper's Apprentice just arrived at the library and after eLr's post I can't wait to read it!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Beekeeper's Apprentice

Precisely written but nothing out of the ordinary way for fiction; not especially clever or artistic, certainly nothing quotable.
Obviously written by a woman, with slight feminism added on top of that. Predictable; leadingly obvious. Pathetically cliche at times.
Decent fiction, but not a very good "detective" story.

And yet, despite all that, I enjoyed it immensely!!!! I even accidentally reserved the "large print" copy of the book, and when I first started reading asked myself "gosh, can I continue with this font size?" but about 10 pages later was so completely engrossed I had forgotten all about it. I just couldn't put it down!

While I do think the above criticisms are all true, the only thing that actually bothered me about The Beekeeper's Apprentice was the character of Sherlock Holmes. Having personally read many of the origional stories surrounding that character, and being particularly attached to the Jeremy Northam (do I have the right actor's name?) TV series, I was disappointed with the liberties taken with his character that, I felt, weakened his (and consequently, the whole book's) credibility. The author was good enough to give an excuse for the differences in character, but in the end she created a whole new character under an assumed name.

Plus, the ambiguous, or I should say, ambivalent nature of the relationship between Holmes and Russell was a little distracting... as it seemed to be the real plot of the book.

I thought it was hilarious that the little kidnapped girl's name was Jessica Simpson.

This is a truly good cotton-candy read: probably bad as a steady diet, but a delightful oh-so-tasty treat! Thank you for the fun, enjoyable pick to whomever is responsible.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

End of the Spear

I just finished reading this book a few minutes ago. Having read, "Through Gates of Splendor" growing up and admiring Jim Elliot, I was curious to get more of the Saint side of the story.

I was not disappointed in the story, the entertainment or the admiration I feel towards Steve Saint's family.

I also bawled considerably at the end of it. (You might want to chalk that up to being pregnant, I don't know.) To hear about everything that they went through and wanted for the tribe . . . .

Sheesh. I have no coherent thoughts. It took the whole last two chapters of the book to quit crying. Periodically I would look up at Jeeves and ask him to "please stop" doing whatever it was he was doing while I dabbed my eyes with kleenex. Whatever, Carrie, right?!

Anyway, I'm glad to have read it. I hope At the Back of the North Wind is considerably more cheery.