Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Storm: 1798 - 1800: Revival in Early America

Storm, third in the “Great Awakenings” series by the late Bill Bright and Jack Cavanaugh, takes place in Connecticut in 1800-1801. Featuring historical figure Dr. Dwight, president of Yale College in the early 19th century, this story centers around two college boys, Asa Rush and Eli Cooper. Yale College is fully immersed in the Age of Enlightenment, the anti-Christian, pro-French philosophic reasoning of the time. Asa Rush begins his freshman year as one of a handful of Christian students determined to bring Yale back to its Christian heritage. Eli Cooper, full of himself and swept up in the Enlightenment philosophy, picks on Asa the new freshman and quickly becomes Asa’a main enemy. Just to make Asa’s life more complicated, though, Dr. Dwight commissions Asa to evangelize and save Eli Cooper.

The one actual revival from this time period, the Cane Ridge Revival in Kentucky, is introduced briefly, with appearances by Asa and Eli during school break. But most of the story takes place back at school, with an outstanding action-paced plot. Asa endures several incidents of freshman hazing, and romantic competition over high-society Annabelle Byrd. In typical Cavanaugh fashion, the characters end up in some very unlikely scenarios, with several surprising developments in the plot.

Throughout the action-packed story, the historical research also provides an exciting background, incorporating all facets of life at the time. We learn several examples of the rules for Yale freshmen, as well as many of the rules of dueling (which was then illegal) and how duels were supposed to play out. The Illuminati is referenced, and the general atmosphere shows the pro-French, pro-Jefferson and anti-Adams sentiments of the time, including the radical, dangerous factions of the American public. Storm includes the detail of guillotines shipped to America, and the strong desire some had to begin a new Revolution more in the style of the recent French Revolution. Throughout the story, we take comfort in knowing how history turned out while appreciating the characters’ uncertainty: would the Federalists leave peacefully? Would there be a peaceful transition of power from the Federalists to the Democrats? Such things had never happened before, after all.

Storm is an entertaining novel that highlights a crisis period in early American history. Even more, it shows a place not all that different from today, in which the Christian worldview clashes against the majority view, yet a few Christians make a difference by speaking out and praying for revival in the nation.

No comments: