Sunday, 3 August 2008

Bruchko (Bruce Olson)

They say not to judge a book by its cover, and maybe it's a mistake to judge it by its genre, either. I was so little enthused about reading Bruchko that I almost put it on TradeMe instead; but decided to give it a go first.

Bruchko is the autobiography of Bruce Olson, a missionary who went to South America to convert the Molitone Indians. I generally steer clear of Christian literature, which tends to be full of far too many nauseauting descriptions of the love and peace of our Lord God Almighty amen.

Bruchko had a few of those scenes; but they're easily skipped over, and the book was still really interesting. He also initially went to Venezuela, which was an extra facet of interest to me with the story I'm writing.

The good thing about Olson was that he didn't try to "Westernise" the Molitones; he didn't even object to the witch doctor, which I know many missionaries tend to strongly dislike, as witch doctors often pray to demons. Instead, Olson (or "Bruchko") works with the witch doctor to help her, far more effective than running against the current culture.

This isn't a sentimental account: Olson is open about the bad as well as the good in Molitone culture; and there's tragedy here too, as he shows life as it is. He starts his story by showing how his conversion alienated his family; he ends by showing how the Molitones' conversion caused death.

The account of his family life seemed pretty one-sided, casting his family in an unloveable light — I'm sure their side of the story would have been completely different, probably with Olson as a self-righteous little brat.

But all in all, this book was interesting throughout, and held my interest. It's a pretty short book, and took me maybe a couple of hours to read. But I'm glad I didn't flick it off on TradeMe after all.

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