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Bewitched by Burma?

Interesting personal account, but not really a "unique insight into Burma’s complex past"

Bewitched by Burma225Bewitched by Burma
A Unique Insight into Burma’s Complex Past
By Anne Carter
Matador, Kibworth Beauchamp
Reviewer: Alec Gilmore

I greeted this book with enthusiasm. Burma has always been a big hole in my education. Here was a chance to fill in the gaps. Beginning with ‘Burmese Myths and Legends’ in 1906 and ending in 1951 with ‘The Japanese Invasion’ and post-war developments it looked good.

Sadly, I could only be disappointed. This is not ‘Burma’s Complex Past’. It is a highly personal account of one family serving in Burma as SPG missionaries in the first half of the 20th century told by a member of the family, now an octogenarian English woman, born in 1924 and reared in Burma, based on the ‘myths and legends‘ told by Aunt Fan and supported by research into her family’s diaries, letters, contacts and memorabilia to enrich the text.

It is the church, the mission station, bishops and clergy. The laity, the Burmese and the Buddhists hardly feature.

Having said that, for those interested in the SPG and the trials and tribulations of the early missionaries as seen through the eyes of one one family, it has much to offer.

How far the family was typical is not clear but they certainly had distinction. Most of them had good theological degrees from British universities. Carter’s father (ordained 1899) translated the Bible into Burmese, had a double first at Cambridge, was Vice-Principal of what is now Westcott House, and (she surmised) driven to leave the security of Britain for the uncertainties of life in Burma by a deep sense of vocation fortified by the thrill of adventure overseas and tales of Stanley and Livingstone.

For all this the family is to be commended and for Baptists the arrival of Judson with an emphasis on Christian education provides a useful counterpoint to India, Carey and Serampore.
 

Alec Gilmore is a Baptist minister       
 

Baptist Times, 30/07/2014
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