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Friday, April 9, 2010

Pilgrim’s Progress in today’s English

Title: Pilgrim’s Progress
Author: James H. Thomas
Reviewer: Dennis D. Muhumuza 

I’m still excited that I landed on the modern version of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, written by James H. Thomas “in the language of the 20th century.”

The story of Christian as he carries his “awful burden” from the “City of Destruction” is the most moving I’ve ever read as it fleetingly made me pause to pray or wipe a tear. Christian is a representation of modern man tormented by his own sins and a contaminated environment. In his disturbed condition, Christian meets Evangelist, who gives him a scroll written on: “Flee from the wrath to come,” marking Christian’s pilgrimage to the “Celestial City”, which signifies Heaven.

First, he falls into the “Slough of Despond” and is abandoned by Mr Pliable. Then a treacherous Mr Worldly Wiseman of Carnal Policy town nearly shoves him to an early destruction. But on climbing a heavy hill on top of which he finds a cross, the burden on Christian’s shoulders falls of its own accord and tumbles down the hill into an open grave, much to his relief and utter amazement.

Suddenly, three celestial beings appear to tell him his sins are forgiven. They clothe him in white and hand him a book to read on the rest of his journey and for identification at the Celestial Gate.

Leaping for joy, the pilgrim resumes his journey. But a strange creature called Apollyon nearly kills him. It’s almost a miracle also that he survives the “Valley of the Shadow of Death.” Christian is delighted to catch up with his friend, Faithful, who tells him he was almost ensnared by the smashing seductress, Mrs Wanton. Onward, they enter a town called Vanity, reminiscent of modern Uganda because the “people of the town were vain, caring for nothing but money, pleasure, and fame.”

Christian and Faithful are arrested and Judge Lord Hategood accuses them of persuading “good honest persons to embrace their poisonous and most dangerous doctrine.” Faithful is hanged and goes straight to heaven and when Christian is released, he is joined on the road by Mr Hopeful, but they are seized by Giant Despair and tormented until they are miraculously rescued. After crossing the “Lake of Death,” they finally enter the “Celestial City” where they are joyously received to dwell in everlasting bliss.

The second part of the book is a reversal as a remorseful, Christian’s wife, Christiana, and their children, also take the hazardous journey to the Celestial City. In this timeless allegory, you meet mixed characters, who through their contemptible conduct remind one of the corruption of the heart of modern man.

The author relays so powerful a message in an exceedingly entertaining style that would interest even the most unyielding individual in the things of God. Pilgrim’s Progress vitalises those on the verge of giving up to faint not because the rewards will exceed their wildest expectations.

--Sunday Monitor, March 28, 2010