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Summer 2002
 
 
Baylor Alumni

History Lesson

The continuous struggle for religious freedom

In the Shadow of the Sun King
By Golden Keyes Parsons
Thomas Nelson
Nashville, Tennessee
ISBN: 978-1-59554-626-5
366 pages, $14.99
thomasnelson.com

Lack of tolerance is as old as humanity--with people bent on proving that their understanding is the true one and the other side is wrong. And when God gets mixed into the equation, religion can be used as a wedge, a hammer, even a sword.

In providing historical perspective for this novel, Golden Keyes Parsons writes, "The holy halls of church history are splattered with the blood of those from all denominations of the Christian faith who endeavored to worship in freedom the God who came in the flesh to set us free. Something about the fallen nature of man loathes when another desires to praise God differently from one's personal concept of worship."

At no time in history, the author claims, was this more pronounced than in the seventeenth-century France of King Louis XIV. In the Shadow of the Sun King is set in this era, just a few years after the Reformation. John Calvin, a Frenchman who was forced to flee to Geneva, had left a doctrinal legacy in France among the Protestants (known as Huguenots).

Now, despite an earlier edict giving them legal recognition, the French king had ordered that all Huguenots must convert to the Catholic faith or face imprisonment or death. The king's dragoons were travelling the countryside, pillaging villages and homes, flushing out and punishing those who refused to convert, and abducting children to be educated in monasteries.

As the novel begins, Fran├žois Clavell has spotted the dragoons descending on his family's estate, where his wife, Madeleine, waits with their two sons and daughter. The young couple send their sons into hiding, just before the dragoons take hostage the manor and its occupants. The story turns when Madeleine travels to Versailles to plead for mercy from the king, a childhood friend. The result of her gamble is the rest of the story.

In a well-crafted first novel, Parsons, a member of the Class of 1963, weaves story lines together in an absorbing tale based on historical fact and her own family genealogy. The reader comes to care about the characters, not just because they stand on the "right" side of some argument, but because of the depth of their sacrifice and the integrity of their faith.

Near the end of the novel, as Fran├žois is sifting through the debris of his once-noble estate, one of the characters says: "Look at the destruction. There is no good reason for this kind of ruin among civilized men. We all serve the same God, do we not?"

And the response is, "We do. But this is the result of religion, state-ordered religion--not genuine faith in God." It would be a kinder world if humans could learn the difference.

*****

Setting Up Stones: A Parent's Guide to Making Your Home a Place of Worship
By Martha and Greg Singleton
New Hope Publishers
Birmingham, Alabama
newhopepublishers.com

Their two kids are grown now, but Martha McMullan Singleton '71 and her husband, Greg, remember what it was like when they were small--trying to balance career and family needs. It was especially important to the Singletons to have family times dedicated to worship, but culture seemed to fight every attempt they made at instituting the old reliable family devotions.

So, these authors asked, "What if there was a better way? What if, with some minor attitude adjustments and a willingness to change our approach, we could not only achieve significant times with God with our families, but we could actually transform our homes into places where worship happens freely and continually?"

In this book, the Singletons share their experiences and those of other families where worship in the home has been able to happen, despite busyness and distractions. They also draw on insights from the conferences and seminars on family life they have led together. Part of the wisdom they share is that parents' efforts don't have to be perfect, but they do need to be purposeful and consistent. Each of the thirteen chapters expresses principles to guide family worship, along with ideas and activities to give parents practical direction.

Drawing from her career in journalism and his in marketing, as well as their twenty-nine years of firsthand experience, the Singletons have made what the children's coordinator from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association describes as "a strategic spiritual contribution to today's families."

*****

Grace for the Afflicted: A Clinical and Biblical Perspective on Mental Illness
By Matthew S. Stanford
Paternoster Publishing
Colorado Springs, Colorado
authenticbooks.com/paternoster

With three Baylor degrees--a BS in 1988, an MA in 1990, and a PhD in neuroscience in 1992--Matthew Stanford has learned a lot. In this book, he seeks to educate Christians about mental illness from both biblical and scientific perspectives, as he discusses the appropriate role of psychology and psychiatry in the life of the Christian believer. He addresses such mental illnesses as schizophrenia and mental disorders like anxiety, eating, substance abuse, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity. With each, he asks, "What does science say and what does the Bible say about this illness?"

In 2003, Stanford returned to Baylor as a professor in the psychology and neuroscience department, where he also directs the PhD program in psychology. A nationally recognized researcher and speaker in the area of aggressive and impulsive behavior, Stanford has also published more than fifty peer-reviewed articles in leading medical and scientific journals.


Also of Note

Baylor associate professor of history Thomas S. Kidd has written American Christians and Islam: Evangelical Culture and Muslims From the Colonial Period to the Age of Terrorism, published by Princeton University Press. [press.princeton.edu]

Xulon Press has published The Eleven Commandments by Preston Taylor '58. [prestontaylorbooks.net]

Rev. Allen Liles '59 has written The Aries Jesus, published by Mill City Press under the pseudonym Allen C. Carroll. [millcitypress.net]

David T. Morgan '59 is the author of America's Revival Tradition and the Evangelists Who Made It, available at lulu.com.

Ken Smith '65 has written Lessons from the Top: What I've Learned About Winning and Leading, released by his ministry, Ken Smith Ministries, Inc. [kensmith.org]

Chris Drake '71 is the author of You Gotta' Stand Up: The Life and High Times of John Henry Faulk, published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing. [c-s-p.org]

Smyth & Helwys has published the latest two books from Judson Edwards '71: Hidden Treasures: Walking the Back Roads of the Bible in Search of Truth and The Leadership Labyrinth: Negotiating the Paradoxes of Ministry. [helwys.com]

Robert Uzzel '73, MA '76, PhD '95, has authored Eliphas Levi and the Kabbalah: The Masonic and French Connection of the American Mystery Tradition by Cornerstone Book Publishers. [cornerstonepublishers.com]

Neal Jeffrey '75 has created a DVD series with workbooks, titled The Man I Want to Be, produced by Sampson Resources. [sampsonresources.com]

Robert Darden '76 has written his twenty-fifth book, titled Jesus Laughed: The Redemptive Power of Humor, published by Abingdon Press. [abingdonpress.com]

Howard Books has published Man Does Not Live by Sports Alone: Devotions for Men, written by Dr. Dennis Swanberg '76. [howardpublishing.com]

Jan Poe Whitt '77, MA '80, has recently had two books published: Women in American Journalism: A New History, released by the University of Illinois Press (press.uillinois.edu), and Settling the Borderland: Other Voices in Literary Journalism, released by University Press of America (univpress.com).

Will Davis Jr. '84 has written Pray Big: The Power of Pinpoint Prayers, published by Revell. [revellbooks.com]

Winepress Publishing has produced a children's book by Carolyn McWilliams Brown '88, All You Want and Then Some. [winepressbooks.com]

William Shiell, MDiv '97, PhD '03, has written Sessions With Matthew, published by Smyth & Helwys. [helwys.com]

Carol Bailiff Bullman '99 is the author of The Christmas House, a children's book about the power of music, published by Ideals Books. [idealsbooks.com]


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