Missionaries Rarely Write Great Books
But These Are Recommended
Thirty Years in the African Wilds. A Life of Brother Francis de Sadelcer. Adapted from the Flemish. (Ouseley. 7s. 6d.) The Church and Primitive Peoples. The Religious Institutions and Beliefs of the Southern Bantu and their Bearing on the Problems of the Christian Missionary. By Dr. Denys W. T. Shropshire, C.R. (S.P.C.K. 12s. 6d.) Through the Leper-Squint. A Study of Leprosy from pre-Christian Times to the Present Day. By Anthony Weymouth. (Selwyn and Blount. 12s. 6d.)
Reviewed by FR. 'HERBERT KELDANY HIS life of Brother de Sadeleer, which has recently been translated into English, deserves a warm welcome for it is a valuable addition to the very scanty ranks of recommendable books on the missions. It relates the long and ener getic career of a lay-brother who was one of the pioneers in the foundation of
two Jesuit missions. Both in Rhodesia and the Congo reminiscences of his exploits are passed on from generation to generation; they should soon be well-known among us, too.
The first part of the book is bound to be more popular here, if only for the new light it throws on the unfortunate expedition to Mashonaland, in which the holy exnaval officer, Fr. Augustus Law, laid down his life in Umzila's kraal, and on the opening-up of the whole Zambesi territory. The resourceful Flemish brother deserves a high place among the heroes of South Africa, and his adventures in company with the handful of fathers, who ventured into the wilds armed with their breviaries and a few presents for the chiefs, would make a wonderful film.
In exploring the upper reaches of the Congo the experience Brother Francis had gained earlier was most valuable, not only with men but with beasts, e.g., he was the first to train cattle to the yoke. But all his life his prayer, as well as his gun and his axe, was constantly needed, and it is the glimpses we get of its effectiveness which make this a memorable book.
Dr. Shropshire has recently spent ten years in Mashonaland as an Anglican missionary. He was struck early on by the chasm which exists between the mentality of the civilised man and that of the native, so he has spent a considerable amount of research upon the best method of throwing a bridge across.
The greater part of this book consists of a careful and well-documented survey of the social, economic, and religious habits of the Southern Bantu which will be of special interest to administrators, anthropologists and others intimately concerned with the future of the native population of South Africa. The author quotes extensively from a bibliography relating to this subject which already runs to some three pages of closely printed type, so there is no doubt a large public for this part.
But the number of readers interested, and qualified to judge the later part cannot be very large. In it the author, who is throughout most anxious to accommodate the native mind, seems to be prepared to go further than most prudent missionaries,
even among his own brethren. After establishing that the Bantu belief in a Supreme Being is vague, emotional, and of little moral significance, he sets out detailed plans for superimposing upon this tenuous foundation ceremonies which are intended to facilitate the task of the missionary.
Thus the Bantu religious sacrifice is related to the Holy Eucharist. Child-birth ceremonies to Baptism. Marriage and initiation rites to the other Sacraments. Dr. Shropshire does not shirk the thorny problems of lobola and polygyny; his solution, however, involves concessions based on the lax interpretation of St. Matthew xix, 9.
The last chapter contains a curious admission. " Yet, though it is quite true to say that patient attention to Bantu ritual and ceremonial and social intercourse will reveal to us the Bantu soul in its desires, longings, aspirations and strivings, nevertheless the author feels that it is scarcely possible to retain very much of this ceremonial in Christian worship."
Inasmuch as the book is imbued with sympathy and understanding it presents a plea for the gentle treatment of the Bantus which will probably be more valuable to administrators, than helpful to missionaries.
Lepers and leprosy are always sure of attention and Mr. Weymouth, who has spent some time collecting information on the subject, has hit on a good idea in compiling a popular history.
Most people think of leprosy as a loathsome disease, utterly incurable and highly contagious. This is the result of having no practical experience of the affliction which is practically unknown in Western Europe today. Leprosy affects the skin, or the nerve, and sometimes both. The sufferer in the former case becomes covered with ulcers and nodules which leave open wounds, while in the latter he gradually loses all use of his limbs from paralysis; but it is now proved that even in bad cases the disease can be arrested and often cured.
The present book bears all the signs of being a hasty compilation, but it contains a mass of curious information, among which it is good to find tributes to the everincreasing number of Catholic missionaries who have followed the heroic lead of Fr. Damien de Veuster, whose cause is under consideration in Rome, and devoted their lives to the care of leper colonies.
Bible Lessons, by Ellamay Horan, illustrated by Marjorie Thompson (Sadlier Inc., New York). Most ingenious method of teaching the Bible, typical in its thoroughness of the I Inited States educational ideas. Great Judgt Samuel, for instance, does not stand afori on his merits-connection is immediate]) made with Albert, Gregory and Barba, in daily life,