Life of Murray, the page-turner

As I’ve written: I’m making Universalist pioneer John Murray’s autobiography into an EPUB for book readers, and I’m amazed by what a page-turner it is. I’m about halfway done of the first, complete, if unattractive, version.

It wouldn’t take much adaptation to make it seem very familiar to many readers: a distant, harsh father who protects his children by smothering them; an understandable, if selfish, impulse to flee at the first opportunity; crushing, confusing deaths; the power of big-name preachers, megachurches and small groups; and the unspeakable crush from betraying friend and acute poverty. Some situations are particularly poignant reading in a world after Marx and Freud.

Otherwise, you’ll have to be a patient reader. The language can get a bit florid at time, and I half-wonder if that’s an influence of his second wife, Judith Stevens, who was a published author and influential person in her own right and time. (She was his editor, and finished the work.)  Be be prepared for rapt circumlocutions, and many tears on bosoms &c.

The one extant abridgment – The Cornerstoneis more than a century old and was written for young children. It’s an even faster read, but (for this adult) not half as interesting. I used to have it at, but it seems to have fallen away in one of the site re-launches. I’ll see if I have the files and will restore it.


By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

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