I first read the abridged and illustrated version of Hinds’ Feet on High Places when I was around the age of nine. I really enjoyed the illustrations and parts of the story stuck in my memory very vividly. That is what led me to finally pick up a complete, un-abridged (and devoid of illustrations) copy of this book. It had a lot of what I loved about the children’s version, but it also had some things I didn’t like.
The premise: Hinds’ Feet on High Places is frequently compared to The Pilgrims’ Progress as it is a Christian allegory. It tells the story of a young woman named Much-Afraid who follows the Chief Shepherd up to the High Places. Along the way, she learns to accept his will for her without argument, to embrace the Sorrow and Suffering he chose to be her companions, and to lay down everything she is and has on the altar. Unlike Pilgrim’s Progress, which is gospel-centered and travels from earth to heaven, Hinds’ Feet is about a journey that happens during life on earth and the climax is not death, but full surrender.
My perspective: For literary value and writing skill alone, this book would not win any awards. I will focus on the value of the allegory instead. I found that there were many individual pieces of the story that were very powerful and insightful. These were the things I had enjoyed and remembered from the children’s version.
However, the story as a whole does not make sense to me. The High Places that Much-Afraid finally reach are not based on a biblical concept as far as I can tell. They seem to be referring to some special level of Christianity. There are also two very unbiblical ideas that come across towards the end: the idea that we should follow God blindly and without regard for his “rightness” and the sure promise of his rewards, and the idea that ultimate truth is somehow pragmatic. (I should note that these ideas were not expressed in the abridged version.)
My recommendation: I don’t know if it’s worth the time and brain power to sort through the strange writing style, the prose and poetry, and the unbiblical messages to find the nuggets of truth and insight that are present. Instead I would recommend if you are really interested in the story to read the children’s version. Although it still does not fit together well as a whole, it is much easier to find the great parts of the allegory and weed out the weirdies.
I almost hesitated to write this review since it’s a bit more negative than I usually write! But, being a week into May already, I figured it was time to post my April book review… The book I’m hoping to read this month is What’s Your Worldview? By James N. Anderson.
What is your favorite allegory?