Review by Micha Boyett Hohorst, who says she is Texan in sweetness (born and raised), Northeastern in skepticism (her twenties), and San Franciscan in location (one year). She is Southern Baptist nurtured, Anglican by choice, Presbyterian by current church, and in love with Roman Catholic monastic and contemplative practice.
“I was 13 years old when cracks began to appear in my world. It was 1963…I was rooted to my spot, crying uncontrollably, straining to see the black children through my tears, noting the terror in their dark eyes and how they held onto each other and how the boy shifted his body and held his hand up to ward off the missiles [sandwich bags full of urine] thrown at them. I had never been so conscious of my sinful nature, of my cowardliness, of my uselessness. I knew my silence made me as guilty in the sight of God as my classmates.” (p.
Let me preface this review first by saying to you all that this is the hardest blog post I’ve ever written. I’m filled with anger, frustration, confusion and hope. My emotions are as deep reaching and wide as the contents of this book. This post should be several pages long, however, I’m going to try to spare you as much as I can while still doing justice to the author. Don’t be surprised if a lot of content gets generated from what I’ve taken away from this book. With that… let’s get down to business.
In “The Sword of the Lord: The Roots of Fundamentalism in an American Family”, Andrew Himes introduce us to his Fundamentalist ancestors, the Rice family. He takes us through their lives as displaced Scot-Irish men and women who fled to America seeking freedom and refuge from religious persecution, famine and war. We follow them through the blood and battle of the Revolutionary War, to their rise to peace and prosperity, as wealthy southern plantation and slave owners.
Imagine growing up thinking that you could be sent to Hell, a site of “eternal torment, literal flames and wailing and gnashing of teeth, ” for being a Catholic, a Communist, a Democrat, liberal, “modernist” interpreter
History can be boring. Personal stories can be dry. And yet, in “The Sword of the Lord,” Andrew Himes successfully blends both history and personal anecdotes into a craftily woven tale of his own journey and his family’s legacy in American history and in the fundamentalist movement.
The past, both historic distant and his own, come to life in this accessible tale of the ups and downs of Christians in America.
Review posted on BaptistBoard.com. A friend on the BB wrote and asked if I knew anything about the latest book on Fundamentalism, The Sword of the Lord: The Roots of Fundamentalism in an American Family by Andrew Himes. So I thought I'd better review it here.
Like so many of us who were raised in the hypocrisies of a doctrine driven faith, Andrew Himes left his church behind by the time he was out of high school. But as the oldest grandson of John R. Rice, one of America’s most famous Christian fundamentalists, his “born again” narrative would haunt him for more than three decades. “The Sword of the Lord – The Roots of Fundamentalism in an American Family” is Himes’ attempt to understand the religious values that shaped his early life and how those same forces have carved up the American political landscape that we occupy today.
“Fundamentalist” has been a dirty word for much of American Christianity of the few decades of my experience. Speak the 14 letter F-word and you instantly color someone as judgmental and close-minded. But how did Fundamentalism happen, and more importantly, why? If it’s safe to assume those who started the Fundamentalist movement didn’t set out to be judgmental and close-minded, what did they set out to do? And how, as the Church in America, do we find healing for both sides from the religious culture wars of the last century?
If you are lucky in this life, A window will appear on a battlefield between two armies. And when the soldiers look into the window They don’t see their enemies. They see themselves as children. And they stop fighting And go home and go to sleep. When they wake up, the land is well again.
Cameron Penny's If You Are Lucky in This Life was originally published in the November/December 2001 issue of North American Review. Marie Howe reads his poem in the film Voices in Wartime.