As I mentioned before, DS2 is starting a new History Guide on US and World History. I am in the process of pre-reading the assigned literature not only to be aware of what he is reading and be ready with help if needed, but also because I have never read any of these books before - my own school career, like that of many, was marked with dry as sawdust textbooks where great times and people and events were watered down and condensed into a short paragraph or a page that had no life or spark to it, and where my only hope was that it would end soon so that I could go and do something - ANYTHING - else.
So, at 40 I am reading Uncle Tom's Cabin for the first time in my life and it is nothing at all like I ever heard or thought it was. I'm only half-way through so will save any comments until the last page is read, but today I read the book which it is said Mrs. Stowe based Uncle Tom on - The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave Now an Inhabitant of Canada, as Narrated by Himself. Published in 1849 it is a small but powerful read. (You can read it on-line : https://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/henson49/henson49.html) I was particularly touched by this passage - it brought me to tears after reading the trials and tests that Josiah had gone through and I was able to share in his praising of a most amazing LORD because of the trials and tests in my own life. Scripture is timeless, as are the uplifting hymns from ages past - and it is overwhelming that hearts in the 1st century, 16th century, the 19th century, and the 21st century can all join with the Psalmist in saying "Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name!"
I hope you enjoy this and are interested enough to read Josiah Henson's whole story for yourself:
**It so happened that one of my Maryland friends arrived in this neighborhood, and hearing of my being here, inquired if I ever preached now, and spread the reputation I had acquired elsewhere, for my gifts in the pulpit. I had said nothing myself, and had not intended to say any thing, of my having ever officiated in that way. I went to meeting with others, when I had an opportunity, and enjoyed the quiet of the Sabbath when there was no assembly. I would not refuse to labor in this field, however, when desired to do so; and I hope it is no violation of modesty to state the fact that I was frequently called upon, not by blacks alone, but by all classes in my vicinity, the comparatively educated, as well as the lamentably ignorant, to speak to them on their duty, responsibility, and immortality, on their obligations to their Maker, their Saviour, and themselves.
It may, nay, I am aware it must, seem strange to many that a man so ignorant as myself, unable to read, and having heard so little as I had of religion, natural or revealed, should be able to preach acceptably to persons who had enjoyed greater advantages than myself. I can explain it, only by reference to our Saviour's comparison of the kingdom of heaven to a plant which may spring from a seed no bigger than a mustard-seed, and may yet reach such a size, that the birds of the air may take shelter therein. Religion is not so much knowledge, as wisdom;--and observation upon what passes without, and reflection upon what passes within a man's heart, will give him a larger growth in grace than is imagined by the devoted adherents of creeds, or the confident followers of Christ, who call him Lord, Lord, but do not the things which he says.
Mr. Hibbard was good enough to give my eldest boy, Tom, two quarters' schooling, to which the schoolmaster added more of his own kindness, so that my boy learned to read fluently and well. It was a great advantage, not only to him, but to me; for I used to get him to read much to me in the Bible, especially on Sunday mornings when I was going to preach; and I could easily commit to memory a few verses, or a chapter, from hearing him read it over. One beautiful summer-Sabbath I rose early, and called him to come and read to me. "Where shall I read, father?" "Anywhere, my son," I answered, for I knew not how to direct him. He opened upon Psalm ciii. "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name;" and as he read this beautiful outpouring of gratitude which I now first heard, my heart melted within me. I recalled, with all the rapidity of which thought is capable, the whole current of my life; and as I remembered the dangers and afflictions from which the Lord had delivered me, and compared my present condition with what it had been, not only my heart but my eyes overflowed, and I could neither check nor conceal the emotion which overpowered me. The words "Bless the Lord, O my soul," with which the Psalm begins and ends, were all I needed, or could use, to express the fulness of my thankful heart. **
Amen, Brother Henson. Amen.