Latest newsletter #153 Click to read online

Book Shelf

Pastor Peter Stevens

“Haven” by Pastor Peter Stevens, self published August 2013, printed by Xlibris Press, USA. 328 pp, Fiction, $20 from the author: Reviewed by Alan Barron, Memucan Institute of Men's Studies.

Some years ago when I was at University, as part of our Literature course, we studied The Handmaid's Tale by feminist author Margaret Atwood. This science fiction work, is set in some futuristic century and tells the story of how a fundamentalist, totalitarian Christian regime - similar to Calvin’s Geneva - has set up a theocracy which has overthrown the United States government.

Margaret Atwood’s book explores the themes of women’s subjugation who are, by various means, constricted to the maternal role and controlled by the patriarchy. Having read Atwood and now having read Haven, it provided an interesting dichotomy. If Margaret Atwood thinks fundamentalist religion is going to take over the UN, then that is far more likely to be Islam rather than Christianity - which has become so weakened by science and liberalism that it has been rendered almost impotent.

In Haven however it’s not men who rule, but a philosophy - environmentalists and zero population lobbyists, who have gained control of the UN via the Earth Watch Commission (EWC). The EWC exercises immense control over the entire population of the world to stop pregnancy and childbirth. This is a temporary measure put in place for 50 years to reduce the overall population of the world so that the population will decline rapidly during this time and so make the planet sustainable for future generations.

In Haven the `Big Brother’ of the EWC exercises a ruthless regime to enforce its no childbirth ban. Anyone caught becoming pregnant is taken to a kangaroo court, found guilty and summarily executed. Pockets of isolated resistance spring up as some women dare not only to talk of pregnancy but actively seek to become pregnant. These women, and their partners, are forced to seek refuge (havens) in isolated places such as the wilderness far away from cities and regional centres.

This is somewhat of an unusual thesis for a book. I can’t see it happening even if the green looney tunes do take control of the UN and set up a one world government via the EWC. Could one centralised form of government like the UN, really stop the entire world’s population from breeding?

The plot centres around the exploits of the hero, Jacob Harrower, a devout Christian who thinks nothing of dispatching Earth Watch troops with both barrels; he’s a mixture of Bruce Willis meets Rambo meets Judge Dredd. I must confess I found this odd; a dedicated Christian character who while brave and enterprising, can on occasions, be violent and ruthless - all in the name of fighting the good fight for marriage and family life of course.

To some extend I can sympathise with him as he is fighting a despotic and authoritarian regime. But the gratuitous violence of Harrower does not endear himself as a noble – dare I say it, Christian - character. As much as I tried I could not picture him as some sort of shining Knight combating the forces of evil, this is despite EWC being a rotten lot.

The narrative moves along at a rapid pace. But on occasions it does strain the bounds of credulity. Jacob Harrower starts out as a high ranking bureaucrat but soon embarks on a quest for the truth which leads to a journey of self discovery. He suspects that something is amiss in the Cryo-Centre where millions of frozen embryo’s have been stored so that once the prohibition on new births for 50 years has elapsed, people will be permitted to start breeding again.

But as Harrower digs deeper he discovers that there are no storage banks of fertilised ova. He uncovers a terrible secret , the storage banks have been destroyed. There is no provision for future children. He finds out that once the present generation dies out, and given that 90 percent of the present population are past child bearing age, the extinction of humanity is rapidly looming on the approaching horizon. Humanity will soon self destruct. The future will be handed back to the planet so nature can heal the Earth.

The concept that mankind will decide to self destruct is an interesting scenario. However, given that sex is a very enjoyable experience for most people, I can’t see this happening anytime soon.

Could mankind left to its own devices, and without a strong Christian witness in the world, implode? It’s unlikely that all nations will agree to compulsory sterility. China has had its one child policy now since 1979 so who knows what’s around the corner? And given that the environmentalists are whipping up a storm over humanity’s alleged fouling of the nest, could it be possible?

The book is a good read despite its somewhat pessimistic view of humanity’s future. There are many twists and turns in the narrative which I won’t give away here. The point is well made that Christians must be diligent and act as salt and light to society at large otherwise the creeping tsunami of humanism will sweep all before it.

The explicit violence on some pages may not be to everyone’s taste. The stilted and predictable clichés on others may irritate some. Bottom line is I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to readers - keeping in mind the above reservations.

<< Back to newsletter