The Fellowship of Life
a Christian-based vegetarian network founded in 1973

 

Heaven On My Doorstep
Reviews

by Elma Williams
(Arthur James Ltd, 1970)

Reviewed in the former British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection journal, AV Times, January 1971 edition:

Question of Faith

One of the sure-fire certainties of the monotheistic conception of God is that he, she or it has, jointly or severally, been fashioned in the image of man. The polytheists, perhaps anticipating Voltaire's dry comment that if God did not exist he would have to be invented, chose to view the inexplicable aspects of nature rather more intelligently.

Not for them

They chose to view supernormal - ergo, divine activity as being more characteristic of the behaviour of the sun, moon and the mercurial changes of the weather, the sea, air, earth and fire. One would never catch an intellectually honest commune of polytheists invoking the blessing of, say, the Greatest Steam Presser, Grandest Grand Master or Most Beatific Brewmaster of Them All.

There is, happily, none of this bogus tradesmen's convention quality of religious mularkey about Elma Williams' Heaven on My Doorstep, but the author is so clearly a monotheist of Roman Catholic persuasion (as well as being a Spiritualist) that readers might be inclined any time after the second chapter to question whether or not she regards God as the Greatest Animal Sanctuary Manager of Them All.

As a five-year-old essayist might truthfully but tritely observe, there are many ways of showing trust in the power of God, and, as anybody of over 15 might know from experience, a hundred and one ways of dumping one's burden of troubles on the Almighty. In fact it is being done, day in and day out, in hope and out of habit all over the great big superstitious myth-ridden world.

After a lengthy enough preamble on the subject of the anthropomorphosity or otherwise of God, I hardly dare in a book review of all places to open an inquiry into the efficacy - or otherwise, of saying one's prayers. Suffice it to say that Elma Williams seems to have possessed the knack to have received the Ear, or possibly Ears, and quite understandably to have rattled off a most interesting book on the strength of it.

I have listened to Elma Williams at the recent annual dinner of the Catholic Study Circle for Animal Welfare, and if this most eloquent lady is just another typical buck-passing over-to-you-God kind of Christian or in any way mystically, either occultly or opaquely, befuddled, then I'm an unfrocked rabbi.

The discriminating reader might by now be wondering when I intend to get down to revealing just what happened when Elma W. called for God's help to overcome the tightening circle of financial and health restrictions that threatened almost immediately to choke the life out of what the book jacket blurb calls, aptly enough, "her peaceful and idyllic Valley for Animals."

No give-away

And the discriminating reader is going to learn no more than that this is the mainspring of a book that I unhesitatingly call a highly interesting, almost unfathomable well of utter spiritual trust - and possibly therefore one of the most dangerous twenty-six shilling's worth of dynamic hopefulness to have hit the bookstalls in late 1970.

For while Elma Williams' infinite faith in the Infinite has had much to do with the being able to carry on her utterly unselfish work for humans as well as animals, bitter disappointment could, and I feel certainly would be in store for 99.999 per cent who put all their eggs into this fragile and most insecure basket.

However while it is still harder to disprove the existence of God than the converse, it is just possible that some kind of intervention of this curiously conventional kind really took place.

On the other hand, and it is a theory that I offer free, I most sincerely believe that there is a subconscious latent power within all of us, perhaps most easily activated by non-believers, that can spontaneously be released and which can - as indeed appears to have happened in Elma Williams' experience - influence others to offer gratuitous help.

Beyond us

As in the case of Astrology perhaps, where there seems to be a system, mostly subjective one suspects in essence, whereby sometimes surprisingly accurate forecasts result from making esoteric play with quasi-scientific symbols for totally unrelated planetary activity, it may be that amid some of the uninspiring jabberwork that passes for the expression of religious belief, sometimes - maybe once in a hundred thousand lifetimes, sincere and unselfish prayer does appear, and I use the word most cautiously, to be answered by some paranormal, external agency - or shall we say one that is evidently beyond our understanding of ourselves.

JP

Reproduced with thanks.

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