|On This Day in Christian History:
365 Amazing and Inspiring Stories
About Saints, Martyrs, and Heroes.
Robert J. Morgan.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]
Reviewed by Chris Smith.
Having a deep appreciation for Church History, I was eager to check out the new book On this Day in Christian History: 365 Amazing and Interesting Stories about Saints, Martyrs, and Heroes by Robert J. Morgan (Thomas Nelson 2010). Although I appreciate history, I am not a big fan of daily devotional books. However, I was pleasantly surprised by Morgan’s work here. Each day contains a fully-formed (albeit brief) story focusing on a specific person or event. Although Morgan is clearly working from a perspective that could be identified as “evangelical,” there are many surprises here that don’t fit the typical stereotype of evangelicalism. Two stories deserve mention in this regard. First, the story for September 15 is that of Antoinette Brown, the first regularly ordained woman minister in the United States, not a topic that I would expect most evangelicals to value. Secondly, Morgan’s May 8th telling of the story of J. Frank Norris, “The Fighting Fundamentalist” who shot a man who took offense at a political statement he made in the pulpit, is the quirky sort of narrative that one does not usually hear from church history, and furthermore Morgan’s telling of it in a way that was open-ended and decidedly not moralistic – e.g., he ends with the quip “[Only] heaven knows whether he did more harm or good” – likewise does not seem to fit the typical mold of evangelicalism.
I sure if I was tasked with writing a book in the same format, most of the stories I would have included would have been different than those Morgan selected, but the fact that Morgan is a skilled storyteller and that he is not rigidly committed to any specific ideological perspective makes this an enjoyable read. Additionally, the relatively brief format of the stories (one fairly text-heavy page each) would lend itself well to a daily oral reading in the home or possibly accompanying prayers in a church setting.