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Friday, July 8, 2011

Come read this intense, in depth review of The Forgotten Awakening!

Review done by Graphoniac

The Forgotten Awakening
How the Second Great Awakening Spread West of the Rockies
By Douglas McMurry

ISBN: 1-935265-63-6
Published by Deep River Books, © 2011
Softback $14.99 @

Overall Grade: A-
Deep, challenging, rewarding content; not my favorite writing style

Let me preface this review with a little background information, so you understand where I'm coming from.

I spent 4 years learning classic grammar, style and diction, to attain my writing degree. I have a proofreader's mind; I can't help but edit as I read. And I read everything. I despair at the decline of the English language, and find it especially offensive when professional print is subpar. I have been asked to review another writer's work, something I do with hesitation. I know what it is to have my own work criticized, what it is to fight the urge to take critiques personally. I must, for the sake of my integrity, and for the benefit of my readers give my honest opinion. So when I remark to the quality of writing, please know that I mean nothing personally against this author; I am merely relying on my classic training while comparing the manuscript to the ones I hold in highest regard.

All that being said, this book is pretty good. :)

Douglas McMurry spent two decades researching The Second Great Awakening, but not the same Second Great Awakening you may've heard of. It is all too easily forgotten that America's European settlers were not the only people on the continent at the time. And it is also too easily dismissed that the First Americans, the indigenous peoples could also be Christian. McMurry calls it ethnocentrism, belief in the superiority of one's own race. Too many of the missionaries and other settlers of the land were convinced that because the Natives were not civilized, they could not become Christians. Christ's love transcends all races, traditions, religious habits, and civilization. Because a few forgotten missionaries believed that, the Natives had their own Great Awakening while America's newest inhabitants had their Second.

Through the story of Jedediah Smith, American mapper, the story of Spokan Garry, a Great Spokan Chief's son, and the stories of several missionaries and trappers that affected Jedediah Smith and Spokan Garry, we get a glimpse of God's loving plan for all people. McMurry's research has found several accounts of God revealing Himself to Native tribes through their spiritual leaders, in ways familiar to The People, prior to the spread of European and American influence. It was prophesied to these tribes that the white man would come with "leaves bound together" to teach them more about God, "He-who-made-us." These prophesies were fulfilled to the detail--including the color of the hair and clothing of the people intended to bring the Gospel. 

In The Forgotten Awakening, McMurry relates historical details in a narrative, facts told as an intimate story. He brings to life characters of history, reminding us that they too were mere humans, regardless of their historical portrayal. By digging through letters, journals, and other historical documents, McMurry found and has presented us with the common thread of God's love and provision making a distinct impact on the lives of Natives and Immigrants alike.

I found the writing itself to be very difficult to read. Mr. McMurry's writing style is very modern, and includes modern phraseology even in 1st person thinking. I found several grammar, style, and diction errors that, though they may be commonly accepted in today's literature, I think greatly diminish a book's ability to last the ages. He also freely changes from 3rd person narrative to 1st person thinking without visual cues. These 1st person thoughts often carry on for full paragraphs of needlessly philosophical musings, sometimes interrupting narrative so that the reader has to stop and re-read to realize that the speaker has changed. I prefer to be shown details and to gather for myself how the character must have felt or thought. I find 1st person thoughts only necessary or helpful when the character doing the thinking is also the narrator throughout the book. But this comes of McMurry's conversational style. It'll be something that you either really enjoy or find difficult to get through. 

McMurry doesn't just preach about the injustice done to the Native Americans, he actually lives his beliefs. He and his wife created The Clearing Where Eagles Fly, a retreat and prayer center whose mission is to help heal and reconcile the American peoples of all heritages. While I am not a fan of his writing style, my hat's off to the Douglas McMurry. From reading this book, his bio, and his website, I believe he is as gentle, genuine, and compassionate as his portrayal of the godliest characters in this book.

I believe that if you read The Forgotten Awakening, regardless of your personal beliefs, you will see how the God of Christianity lovingly allows all people to come to Him in the ways familiar to them. You will see how Christ's love is not tied to civilization, but rather to each person's choice to obey God's calling, even through rituals unfamiliar to The Church. Christianity is simply a matter of obedience, not of religious icons, traditions or clothing choice. This book simply glows with stories of America's first Christians, both white and red.

  • As a historical narrative, the facts and impressions of years and years of research become much more enjoyable to read
  • The story line supports and makes the concept easier to understand
  • Decent organization for such a vast amount of information
  • Includes simple maps, excerpts from journals, and pictures (in the center fold)
  • If you like the conversational style of writing, the whole book is written as though told at an intimate gathering, using modern terms and idioms
  • The whole point of the book is obvious, poignant, and powerful. It sticks with the reader
  • Written in a very conversational style, which I personally find difficult to read
  • Has minor diction, style, and grammar errors that I found distracting. However, the average reader probably won't even notice them
  • Switches between first, second, and third person almost excessively and without visual cues, a habit that this speed reader finds rather annoying
    This product was provided free of charge to Graphoniac, for review. All opinions are my own.

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