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Book Review: "Stepping Heavenward"

By Susan Burns
March 01, 2000

My earliest memories are of sitting on my Grand-dad's lap, reading the Bluefield Daily Telegraph with him. That is how I learned to read. And I love to read. Although I am certainly not as well read as Rush or Andrew, I have been reading for probably 45 years now. So I have read a lot! And in all those decades of reading, with the exception of the Bible, I have never, never, never said this before: This book is a must read for every female. Really. No kidding. Buy the book. Mother's Day is coming. Do something wonderful for the women in your life-get them this book.

Elizabeth Prentiss was born in 1818, the youngest daughter of Rev. Edward Payson. She is more famous in our time for her hymn, More Love to Thee, O Christ. But she was a beloved Christian author in her day and this book was widely read in America and abroad. I believe it will be this popular again as word gets out. And it should be. It is an exquisite antidote for feminist thought.

The book is written as a journal. The "author" of the journal, Katy, begins by saying, "How dreadfully old I am getting! Sixteen!" The story proceeds through her life until she is in her forties and nearing death after a lengthy illness. Her journal not only takes the reader through the events of life, but also through the spiritual battles and victories that result as she faces what God brings before her each day. This is important. Because, Katy's life is ordinary. Nothing befalls her that does not befall other humans. It is through these very ordinary events that she "steps heavenward." It is humbling to watch her move from a rebellious (by eighteenth-century standards) to a sweet, godly maturity as the years pass.

Here are some examples of the wisdom woven throughout this book:

Advice given her from a godly woman: "God never gives us hindrances. On the contrary, He means, in making us wives and mothers, to put us into the very conditions of holy living."

On the death of her firstborn: "I gave my darling to God, I gave him, I gave him! But, oh, with what anguish I saw those round, dimpled limbs whither and waste away. . . . What a fearful thing to be a mother! But I have given my child to God. I would not recall him if I could. I am thankful He has counted me worthy to present Him so costly a gift."

When her dear Mother lay racked with terrible pain before her death, a friend tells Katy, "God knows whom He can trust [with such suffering]. He would not lay His hand thus on all His children."

Another thing I love about the book is the relationships between the older godly women and Katy. This is how Titus 2:3ff. is supposed to be. Also, the sweet tender counsel of Katy's pastor as she struggles with her faith. Oh, for more pastors like this!

As I said earlier, this book is a wonderful antidote for feminism. Although I have been a Christian for near thirty years now, I became a Christian and have lived my life in a non-Christian, secular, democratic, egalitarian culture-as have many women of my generation. This book gives women a chance to go back and breathe deeply the air of a more godly culture and time. A time when the Christian foundations of the society stood-foundations that we have to rebuild. You can see, smell, taste, and feel what it might be like to live in such a culture. The lessons learned give us a pattern that we can apply as we rebuild and restore that which has been lost.

Buy the book. Read the book.

To Order: (Calvary Press Publishing, Box 805, Amityville, NY 11701) (800) 789-8175 $10.95

Audio version available for $29.95


Topics: Family & Marriage

Susan Burns

Susan  is the managing editor of the the Faith for All of Life magazine and the Chalcedon Report (bi-monthly newsletter). Susan has worked for Chalcedon since 1997. She lives in Virginia and is rather fond of animals, especially her many cats.

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