Peace Shall Destroy Many

Peace Shall Destroy Many

by Rudy Wiebe

But life appears tranquil in the isolated farming settlement of Wapiti in northern Saskatchewan, where the Mennonite community continues the agricultural lifestyle their ancestors have practised for centuries.

Their Christian values of peace and love lead them to oppose war and military service, so they are hardly affected by the war except for the fact that they are reaping the rewards of selling their increasingly valuable crops and livestock.Thom Wiens, a young farmer and earnest Christian, begins to ask questions.

How can they claim to oppose the war when their livestock become meat to sustain soldiers?

Within the community, conflicts and broken relationships threaten the peace, as the Mennonite tradition of close community life manifests itself as racism toward their half-breed neighbours, and aspirations of holiness turn into condemnation of others.

Perhaps the greatest hope for the future lies with children such as Hal Wiens, whose friendship with the Métis children and appreciation of the natural environment offer a positive vision of people living at peace with themselves and others.Wiebes groundbreaking first novel aroused great controversy among Mennonite communities when it was first published in 1962.

Wiebe explains, I guess it was a kind of bombshell because it was the first realistic novel ever written about Mennonites in western Canada.

There are many, many people who feel that religious experience is the most vital thing that happens to them in their lives, and how many of these people actually ever get explored in modern novels?The concept of peace is an important theme in Wiebes first three books.

The theme of peace versus passivity is further explored in The Blue Mountains of China, where inner peace, a state of being, is contrasted with the earthly desire for a place of public order and tranquility where the church is there for a few hours a Sunday and maybe a committee meeting during the week to keep our fire escape polished, as Thom, the protagonist puts it..

and Jesus Christ had no use for the social and political structures of his day; he came to supplant them.While Peace Shall Destroy Many takes place in a Mennonite community, its elements are universal, delineating the way young idealism rebels against staid tradition, as a son clashes with his father.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Fiction
  • Rating: 3.71
  • Pages: 320
  • Publish Date: October 16th 2001 by Vintage Canada
  • Isbn10: 0676973426
  • Isbn13: 9780676973426

What People Think about "Peace Shall Destroy Many"

The dilemma faced by young Mennonite men in Canada during the war is one of the major themes of this novel, and the main reason I wanted to read it. Thom begins to question how his community can refuse to participate in the war while so many young men from their adopted country are dying to protect the freedom the Mennonites enjoy. The themes explored are not unique to the Mennonites, as many immigrant communities go through the same difficulties as their young people are exposed to, and begin to absorb, a new culture.

Thom Wiens, the protagonist, exemplifies the progressive aspiration to reach beyond the borders of seclusion and interact and build relationships with the Métis and other non-Menonnites, while Peter Block, the resourceful, fearful, and controlling Deacon of the Wapiti Mennonites, demands that the community rid itself of alien influence lest its moral and spiritual purity be sullied.

This work book is important, I think. Also, as an atheist, I think that a lot of the rligious themes in this book, and the religious questions, go beyond religion, and do apply to larger philosophical questions (unlike a lot of religious themes in André Gide for example, which I find stay purely religious, and not so interesting to someone not interested in "reflections about protestantism). I had to read some pages over and over again because I could not stay concentrated.

During World War II, Thom Wiens lives in a Mennonite settlement in Saskatchewan where he works on his parents farm. Some of the people in the community question the desirability of the First Nations people living so close to the Mennonites farms.

An example of the hypocrisy addressed in the novel is with the Deacon, one of the leading characters, who speaks about the importance of ones inner life over outward things, yet by his leadership he and the community judge the neighboring Indians and other outsiders by their outward appearances.

Young man Thom of the neighboring Weins family ponders the thoughts on pacifism expressed by teacher Joseph.

He attended the small school three miles from his farm and the Speedwell Mennonite Brethren Church. He was awarded the Royal Society of Canada's Lorne Pierce Medal in 1986.