Friday, April 08, 2011

Book Review: Our Witch Doctors Are Too Weak

The title alone--Our Witch Doctors Are Too Weak-- would have been enough to tempt me to read this book, and after the first few pages I was hooked. David Janke takes us into the Amazon with him as he and (later) other language missionaries seek to learn a language that has never been written down, in order to eventually present to them what they call "God's Words."

Although I was sort of aware of the work of language missionaries because of my acquaintance with a number of them in a previous church, I absolutely could not fathom the enormity of the task facing these people. Reading some of the later chapters about how they dissected every sound of every word almost gave me a headache.

And frankly, I shuddered when I read of some of the conditions they faced. Who among us would eat grubs when offered by a tribesman in order to win their trust? Not me, for sure.

Although Davey's wife, Marie, is listed as co-author, she makes at best a cameo appearance in the book. We learn little more than that she was one of the missionaries that came on the field later, and that Davey proposed to her and announced their engagement via the tenuous email link the missionaries had to the outside world. Call me a romantic, but I found myself wishing for more of their story.

The chapters are short, and I turned page after page, wondering what surprise, what stumbling block, what triumph was around the corner. The book was made available to me for review, but I truly would have paid for this one. It's worth it.

NOTE: This time I'm sure. My interview by book reviewer extraordinaire Rel Mollet is now posted on her website, RelzReviewz. Hope you'll check it out and find out about my riding an elephant in Thailand, playing baseball with Mickey Mantle, and holding my own in a beach volleyball game with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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