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GOD HELP US

Harpur, Tom
Toronto, McClelland & Stewart, 1992.271pp, paper, $19.99, ISBN 0-7710-3943-3. CIP


Grades 11 and up/Ages 16 and up

Reviewed by Val K. Lem

Volume 21 Number 2
1993 March


Formerly an Anglican priest, a university professor, and religion editor of the Toronto Star, Harpur has become well known since 1984 as a freelance columnist and writer of books addressing ethical and religious issues. A selection of his syndicated newspaper columns appeared as Always on Sunday1 in 1988. Ninety-nine subsequent columns are presented in God Help Us.

In the introduction, Harpur identifies destruction of the environment, warfare, and injustice as elements of a global crisis that humanity must seriously and quickly deal with. The role of religion in causing and solving this crisis underlies much of the book. The emphasis is on the Judea-Christian tradition, but Harpur draws on examples from other faiths and views held by agnostics. Many issues transcend religious boundaries.

Topics as diverse as the power of prayer, Christ's attitude to family ties, euthanasia, the Gulf War, slaughter and the meat industry, the relevance of religion, the ordination of women, and the interpretation of scripture are inevitably controversial. Arguably a liberal who tries to "think in fresh ways about long-held values and venerable religious beliefs," Harpur is often critical of those who claim to have a monopoly on truth.

By their nature, the columns serve as mere introductions to topics. Many articles could be used by educators to stimulate critical examination of important ethical issues. An index would have facilitated this kind of use, Christian youth and adults in particular should find this a thought-provoking work.


Val K. Lem is a librarian with the Board of Education for the City of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario
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