Featured Reviews, VOLUME 5

Gandhi and the Unspeakable – James Douglass [Feature Review]

Page 2 – Gandhi and the Unspeakable – James Douglass

Gandhi called his autobiography, “The story of my experiments with truth,” which is alluded to in this book’s subtitle. For those already familiar with Gandhi’s remarkable achievements, for those who have drawn inspiration from his nonviolent vision, and even for those simply looking for an introduction to Gandhi’s thought, this book provides a compelling, if disturbing, look at his final experiment with truth: his death.

Savarkar succeeded in killing his enemy, in hopes of also killing his vision for India. But Gandhi too carried his vision through to the end, suffering and dying at his enemy’s hands. As Douglass argues, both men’s visions of the way forward continue to play out before us, with urgency, to this day.

Though Gandhi remained a devout Hindu until the end, he is famously rumored to have said that he liked Jesus; it was those who acted so unlike him that he did not like. It was Jesus who taught that we’d reap what we sow, and that those who live by the sword would also die by it; Gandhi knew this, and his vision of nonviolence was “based on a harmony of means and ends,” recognizing that “those who sowed terrorism would reap terrorism” in return.

Those of us who follow Christ would do well to meditate on the teaching and example of our Lord, who for the joy set before him ultimately suffered and died out of love for his enemies. For Gandhi, the cross-shaped life and death of Jesus provided a formative example to follow, and the world was never the same because of it. But for those who have died with Christ and have been raised with him, we have more than an example to guide us; we have the gift of resurrection life itself. I pray that we, by the grace of God, would look more and more like our Jesus every day.


Tim Høiland is an advocacy journalist and communications specialist working in the field of relief and development. His work focuses on the intersections of faith, development, justice, and peace in the Americas. He lives in Phoenix and blogs at tjhoiland.com .


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C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com

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