Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The general next to God: Richard Collier

I was given this book by a Salvationist prior to interviewing a new Salvation Army General in Singapore, as you do. It's a history of the Salvation Army and its founder, General William Booth, after whom a street in my home-town was named.

Utterly, totally captivating with its stories of this pioneering denomination that sought out the poorest 10% in the UK and around the world.

This was the gospel setting the news agenda. Who popularized safety matches? The Salvation Army. Why is the legal age of consent in the UK and in many countries around the world set at 16? Because the Salvation Army, allied with a leading journalist, campaigned for it. MPs, who used child prostitutes, were in uproar. There were riots, bricks, violence, jail sentences against the campaigners. Still they fought -- laughed at, derided, causing major civil disturbances, criticized by the great and the good as well as the indolent and the bad.

Here's the story of the Salvationist leader who always used to march carrying a dead rat: he reasoned that it was better to carry the rats that were thrown at him rather than cast them aside to be hurled at him again. What a book.

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