Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Book Review: Profiles in Faith

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Profiles in Faith
Author: Harold Sala

Author's web site (bilingue! ingles-espanol!): https://www.guidelines.org/commentary/preacher/dr-harold-j-sala/
Date: 2003
Publisher: Barbour
ISBN: 1-58660-733-6...not apparently available on Amazon. Click here to see the 416-page version.
Length: 95 pages
Quote: “This book contains brief profiles of fifty of my heroes.”
Although the short paperback version describes itself as an abridgment of the version of Profiles in Faith available from Promise Press, the short book appeared on the market first. It’s a quick read; each mini-biography takes up only one or two pages.
Sala’s selection of Christian “heroes” is odd partly because it skips through history. We meet, in order: David Livingstone, St. Peter, Lilian Trasher, Doug Nichols, “Mrs. Noah,” Mother Teresa, Byrd Brunemeier, Lim Cheong, St. Augustine, St. Paul, Martin Luther, St. Athanasius, an obscure twentieth-century believer called Pongo, William Carey, Peter ten Boom (Corrie’s nephew), Wang Ming Dao, Ray Buker, Brother Lawrence, Page Pitt, Billy Graham, C.S. Lewis, King David of Israel, Chang Shen, Abraham, J. Hudson Taylor, Jeremiah, St. Paul, Joseph (the son of Jacob in the Old Testament), “Auntie” Wang (Mrs. Wang Ming Dao), Amy Carmichael, Bill Eaton, Nehemiah, Fred Whiteman, St. Mark, D.L. Moody, Anacleto Lacanilao, St. Thomas, George Muller, Chris Milbrath, Peter Cao, Mother Mary, Paul Kauffman, Ernest Shackleton, Mary Slessor, Go Puan Seng, J.C. Penney, Hezekiah, John the Baptist, A.W. Tozer, and Matthew Maury.
A few of these people are still living, and are probably embarrassed to find their names on this list. Some are apparently people Sala knows personally. There’s a conscious effort to mix famous and unknown names. Sala’s description of “Mrs. Noah,” a real profile in obscurity about whom absolutely nothing is recorded, probably wasn’t intended to be funny. It is funny—especially if you remember the medieval dramatizations where she was characterized as a doubter, often a loud rude drunk, who had to be dragged or shoved into the Ark. Sala defends the inclusion of this Bible character because she was willing “to live with a man who was the mockery of his day,” “did a good job with her boys” (what about Ham?), and, if she lived to be a grandmother, which is not known, would have been able to tell the most “vivid eyewitness” stories in history.
If you’re looking for short, fresh inspirational stories, this book is for you. It will slip easily into almost any adult’s pocket and is therefore ideal for reading on a plane or in the hospital. If you’re familiar with the biographies of some of these people, you may find it a good writing exercise to condense better biographies into the same amount of space, or compare these abridgments with the full-length biographies in the Promise Press version.

What I had when I wrote this review, and have since sold, was the short version of Profiles in Faith. That one was a bit of a teaser and seems to have disappeared from the market by now. This places me in an unusual predicament...like most of the book reviews that have appeared on this web site, this review was written in support of a book sale that ended a few years ago, and in this case, now that the review is available online, the book I actually reviewed may not be. No worries, though. The full-length version has been out for a while, is widely available secondhand, and can be offered as a Fair Trade Book. I can't tell you exactly how much more informative that book will be. It'll be more informative, of course, and in better condition than the book I reviewed here.

For those who don't know, the Fair Trade Books system is this web site's demonstration of support for the rights of living authors. When we sell secondhand books online, the bottom price is $5 per book + $5 per package for shipping. The author, if still living, or a charity of his or her choice then receives $1. (Yes, if we can find twelve clean secondhand copies of the short version of Profiles in Faith, that would mean that you'd pay $65 and Sala or his charity would get $12. I don't think more than four copies of the full-length version would fit into one package...that's determined by the U.S. Postal Service and is subject to change.) Contact salolianigodagewi @ yahoo.com, the published address for this web site, to order anything shown here.