Friday, September 05, 2008
About the book:
Every generation seems to have people who make a habit of embodying evil, John Newton observed people who have to look up in order to see the bottom. When they come to know God they are examples to others of Gods amazing grace. I, John Newton wrote, was one of these.
This biography of the writer of Amazing Grace takes us on a journey worthy of a Hollywood extravaganza with swashbuckling adventures on the high seas coupled with the horrors of the slave trade. Once Blind retells Newtons conversion during a crushing storm no one expected to survive and then the most unusual years that followed as an evangelical clergyman with the Church of England during which he was known for his ability to bridge gaping theological chasms.
In the end, John Newton risked his reputation, his wife's emotional wellbeing, even his cherished right to preach all so that he could bear witness to the horrors he had witnessed and had participated in, and to help bring about laws that would stop the slave trade.
This is indeed a timely book as we mark the 200th anniversary of the laws that set in motion the end of 18th century slavery, for Gods grace is every bit as amazing today as it was in Newtons era.
Several years ago I read The Infidel by Joe Musser (B&H 2001) and enjoyed it very much. It was a novel - rather than a biography - based on John Newton's life. Once Blind is very similar to The Infidel so both authors had obviously studied up on John Newton's life, though they had slightly different takes on the details. Once Blind was an easy read, though I found the symbols used to illustrate cursing like... #@(%& quite distracting at times. There was also an occasional point of view issue, but other than those minor things, I really liked the story. The fact that I finished it says a lot considering most books of the books I start never get read through to the end. At any rate, this biography was a nice review of John Newton's life and the comparison to modern day slavery issues at the end is worth considering. There is even a section that talks about how you can become a modern day abolitionist.
I also appreciated how the author used excerpts from some of Newton's sermons to make points in the story. Some scenes were pretty descriptive of the horrors of slavery, but nothing the average reader would get ill over. The details were not too graphic. At any rate, Once Blind is a worthwhile read and I definitely recommend taking the time to read it.
Once Blind was published by Authentic Books and released in January 2008.