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."
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
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
Reproduced with thanks.
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