“Grandy was dead. The man who had been father to him since childhood, who had been both mentor and comrade through all the years, was gone. And now in the first great crisis of his life he was to be left without the wisdom, the tolerance, the saving humor as well as the unshakable love upon which he had always depended. A blackness settled upon him; a sense of intolerable loneliness and insufficiency.” (The Bishop’s Mantle, pg 4)
These were the precise and personal thoughts of Hillary Laurens, a young and fresh Episcopal priest, who had returned to his hometown, in 1939, to take up his calling as vicar of St. Matthews church, as he knelt at the bedside of his beloved grandfather, and Bishop. Now this weighty mantle had passed to him. There was much to do for a war was imminent.
I could go on, and rewrite the words of all those worthy reviewers who have gone on before me, and am sure that I would not be able to add any more to their fine ponderings. This is my first encounter with Ms. Agnes Sligh Turnbull, and she had captured my heart both as an author and, in some sense, a teacher. Within this initial reading of her work, I have found someone who seems to understand the common struggle of those who wish to live a life that is pleasing to our Lord.
Just as Hillary strives to be a worthy replacement to his predecessor, at St. Matthews, he also faces the task of being a husband, and a guiding hands on leader in his hometown. His lovely socialite wife Lexie, is also faced with coming into her own, and throughout the story the reality of World War II looms upon them . It is a novel about taking up our crosses daily. It is a story of being the men and women that we were called to be.
Wikipedia offers a tremendous synopsis, and it is not in laziness that I offer it, but rather in admiration, as I cannot offer better:
What I can offer, however is the rare jewel that this story by Ms. Turnbull has given to me, even after all this years since it’s publication, in 1948 by The Macmillian Company. (10 years before my own birth).
I am a Christian. I am a follower of Christ. I would like to say that I do this well, but I am a poor example of this most honored membership. I struggle each day, with the multiple callings of being a husband and father in this contemporary world, keeping my family financially afloat, and my desire and duty to serve Christ. I have failed on most fronts in my own perspective.
What this book has done for me is allowed me to be secure in the knowledge that mine is no uncommon plight. Christian men from every age and walk of life share my plight. Ms. Agnes Sligh Turnbull, has found a common thread for those who would desire to live godly in an ungodly world.
I have found an author that I will enjoy getting to know in the months to come. I have found that perfect recliner, that welcome lounge chair at the end of a busy and weary day, in the gift of this wonderful writer.
Ms. Turnbull will truly make you look at yourself as you read this masterpiece. Please make sure that “The Bishop’s Mantle,” is on your reading list. You are sure to come away with a better appreciation of your own loved ones and those who labor for you in the Heavenly realms.