Coals of Fire

Coals of Fire

HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW

Book: Coals of Fire

Author: Elizabeth Hershberger Bauman

Illustrator: Allan Eitzen

Publisher: Herald Press, new edition published in 1971

ISBN-13: 978-0613818599 (Hardcover)

ISBN-10: 0613818598 (Hardcover)

ISBN-13: 978-0836119572 (Paperback)

ISBN-10: 0836119576 (Paperback)

Related website: www.heraldpress.com (publisher)

Language level: 1

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Reading level: Ages 8 and up

Rating: 4 stars (GOOD)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Any books donated for review purposes are in turn donated to a library.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

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     Bauman, Elizabeth HershbergerCoals of Fire (published in 1954 by Herald Press, Scottsdale, PA 15683).  Based on the Scripture, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap coals of fire on their heads” (Romans 12:20), this “children’s peace classic” offers seventeen true stories about returning love for hate and good for evil, taken from various cultures and time periods.  Time-wise, they begin with the story of Isaac and Abimelech recorded in Genesis chapter 26, continue with early Christians in ancient Rome, Mennonites and other Anabaptists in Reformation Europe, Amish in eighteenth century Pennsylvania, Quakers during the American Revolution, a believer during the 1904 anti-Jewish riots in Russia, an early twentieth century peace missionary to India, twentieth century Brethren missionaries in Africa, conscientious objectors during World War I, the post World War I International Voluntary Civilian Service, and a Mennonite relief worker in World War II.  The last story is about how the famous statue The Christ of the Andes in South America came about.

     Not everyone will necessarily agree with all the traditional “non-resistance” premises historically taken by Anabaptists and Quakers upon which these stories are based, such as that “to kill was a sin—even in self defense,” that “military training was always wrong,” and that Christians are absolutely forbidden to fight and kill in war, although through the years some of our brethren in churches of Christ have held and yet do hold these same positions.  And not of all of the accounts end happily.  Sometimes the individuals involved were killed or otherwise perished because of their faith.  But as Christians, we certainly understand what it means to be different from the world, so we still should be able appreciate how the examples in this book stood up for and were even willing to die for their convictions.  And furthermore, we can learn from them the importance of avoiding violence if at all possible, overcoming evil with good, and striving to seek peaceful means of settling problems.  The difficult and challenging situations described in the book are worthy of thoughtful consideration and conversation.

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