Friday, December 30, 2005

1957 Book Club selection for January

This coming month's selection is "Beyond the River" by Ann Hagedorn. The subtitle: the untold story of the heroes of the underground railroad. The action takes place in Ripley, Ohio, across the river from Kentucky--a free state and a slave state. I'm not far into the book, but the writing is good and draws the reader into the story immediately with setting the scene and building the characters. However, when I read about this era, which according to Hagedorn begins in the 18th century with people who were against slavery and believed they were born to change the world, I can't help think of our current battle between the pro-life and pro-choice forces. What is a life and what is its value. There are many paragraphs that with a few word changes could describe our politics today, where every court nominee depends on what was said about abortion 20 years ago in some clerking memo.

"As news of the Missouri Compromise reached Carlisle, Kentucky, where [John] Rankin lived, and nearby Concord, where he preached, Rankin felt the pulse of his community quicken. He sensed the anger in the hearts of slave owners and the frustration among antislavery advocates when he stood at the pulpit seeking to prove that slavery was as great a crime against the laws of God as murder, and arguing that every slaveholder must free his slaves to adhere to the teachings of the Scriptures..."

Also, I'll need to check my Family Tree database. John Rankin was born in East Tennessee in 1793, and that's where my family's ancestors settled after service in the Revolution (Scots-Irish who hated the British), and I think I remember some Rankins in the family.

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