I am submitting a letter in response to a recent Jeffrey Hall book review about the Holocaust.
It seems to me that starting the review with a Christian Bible quote and emphasizing in the first paragraph, and later throughout the review, the place of faith and God (“Carrie and her family passed this test of faith with flying colors”) places an emphasis on religion which may or may not be germane to the motivation of why humans take great risks to help others who are in danger - thereby causing danger or death to themselves.
When a woman hears the screams of a child in a burning home, rushes in to save the child, is she doing it because of faith in God or because ever so many other human reasons and responses, and it is her immediate human response?
I am reminded of an incident 30 years ago. During lunch break at an office in West Chester dedicated to helping persons with developmental disabilities and getting them out of the Pennhurst Institution and placed in the community, my wife happened to mention during a discussion that she did not believe in God. Another woman said, “Oh, you can’t really mean that. How could you do this work if you didn’t believe in God?” My wife said she didn’t see that there had to be a connection.
To be true to the experiences of the writer, in a book review the voice and the convictions and the experiences of the writer should be the emphasis of the review - not possibly the beliefs of the reviewer.
Reid Warren, Elverson