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In sixteenth century Moravia amid persecution of the Hutterites, a twelve-year-old boy influenced by the famous physician, Paracelsus, chooses his vocation.
Posted August 8, 2013
Doctor in Rags is a chapter book written for young readers by Louise Vernon. The story is both about the Doctor Paracelsus and the Hutterites. I had never heard of Paracelsus and I have never read much about the Hutterites so I found myself learning quite bit about both.
The main character is Michael, a young man, and his sister, Gudryn. They are first introduced to the Hutterites and the Doctor when their Mother invites the Hutterites to build a Bruderhof on her estate. At this time, Gudryn is seriously ill and although famous city doctors have been called into attendance it is the "Doctor in Rags" who cures her. At this time in the history of the Hutterites, it was against the law to allow them to settle in colonies. Soon, Michael and Gudryn's mother is arrested and they must flee when the estate is captured. They have nowhere to go but to follow the Hutterites in their wanderings. In staying with them, the two learn a lot about Hutterite living and they also learn of their mother through a letter the Hutterites receive. She has at this point converted and become a Hutterite herself. The story ends with Michael and Gudryn becoming reuniting with their Mother. Throughout the whole book, Michael has been drawn to the Doctor Paracelsus and the work he does. Scenes of the Doctor and Michael being put together are scattered throughout the book. Since Michael is at the age where he needs to decide what career to launch out on, there is some pressure on him as he examines different career paths that he sees various Hutterite men embarking on. He is unsure however, if becoming a doctor is his call as he also is drawn to the work of the missionary Hutterites who go out to preach. In the end, he finds his calling in becoming a missioner doctor, and goes out to learn more from Paracelsus before embarking on his chosen path.
Louise Vernon goes into quite a bit of detail on how the Hutterite colonies began and functioned and I found myself learning quite a bit about them. I did come across a couple of areas where I didn't agree with their doctrine. For example, their children were put in nurseries rather than staying with their mothers, and they also tend towards the legalistic side in other areas. Another instance where I disagreed was when the doctor mentions that only people with faith strong enough will be healed. This isn't the case according to Scripture. As mentioned in Mathew 5:45--"....He makes the sun shine on both the evil and the good, and sends the rain to the unjust and the just." People with no faith at all are often healed, not as a result of their belief, but as a gracious gift from the Father. Even so, at this time in their history at least, at the core of the Hutterite doctrine seemed to be a love for the Lord.
I appreciated the writing of Louise Vernon in this book. I think she did a great job of targeting an older age of student both because of the age of the characters, and the fact that the writing was a little more in depth, perhaps more along the line of middle school student. This would be a great addition to a church or family library.
*Thanks to Herald Press for providing a complimentary copy to me in exchange for my honest review.