BOOKENDS

THE ADVENTURE OF A BLACK GIRL IN HER SEARCH FOR GOD, by Bernard Shaw. Dodd, Mead, and Company, New York, 1933. $1.50.

DURING a critical period in the present world adjustment, when he was held up at Knysna in the African summer of 1932, Shaw was inspired to break away from his ordinary business of playright to give the rank and file his views on modern religion.

Converted to Christianity by a female missionary, a young negress, armed only with her knobkerrie, the African black-jack, and the Bible, sets out through the jungle in search of God. She questions as she meets them: the God of Genesis; a stalwart Roman soldier; Christ himself; St. Peter; Mohammed; Voltaire, who is philosophizing among the jungle people; and finally the sage of Adelphi Terrace; but none give her a satisfactory answer. Christ, she finds "a good-natured fellow who smiled whenever he could" with a low opinion of women. When she found Voltaire digging in his little plot, the black girl was not hesitant in joining him. Just over a wall Shaw was cultivating in his own hole. An African courtship followed and the heroine settles down with the author of the book. The cultivating continues as before. Shaw places Christ, Mohammed, and Voltaire unmistakably on his own level, but this is naturally Shavian. He plays the part of the here while the part of the villain is left to Jehovah.

As an interpretation of all this allegory, the author declares in the postscript preface that the Bible is a mess, and uses the more modern translations of it for his proof. The Book of Revelations is "a curious record of the visions of a drug addict." And to him Christianity is "an amazing muddle, which has held out only because the views of Jesus were above the heads of all but the best minds." Suspecting that the masses are ready to accept the doctrine of Truth, the author feels that he is timely in getting out this plea for a realignment of religious thinking. He exhorts us to accept the religion of Christ as he taught it and exemplified it in his life. Shaw has come to the conclusion that a large number of people are now intelligent enough to understand that which only the "best minds" had grasped up to the time of the present social revolution.

In this new work, Shaw has forsaken Marx and the Fabian Society and taken up new cudgels; but he is the same humorist. He takes himself no more seriously than he does his readers. He loves to shock people, although there are few things left that can shock them; and he continues to preach. He has taken a new track, but with the same engine.