Unselfishness Restored


One of the great things about the Print on Demand explosion is that books are now available that have been out of print for many years. In some cases the books have been restored to their complete versions after many editions that have been tinkered with for one reason or another.

I’ve always been a bit mystified why publishers feel it is OK to tamper with someone’s autobiography, of all things! Either don’t publish it or publish as intended; add a preface if there are issues you disagree with but don’t mess with the author’s own text.

Hannah Whitall Smith is a well-loved author with several books in print. Unfortunately, her spiritual autobiography – The Unselfishness of God & How I Discovered It – usually appears in a mangled form because evangelical publishers don’t like the chapters in the middle of her faith journey that centre on universal restitution or salvation. Rather oddly, they have usually “disappeared” the offending chapters resulting in the flow of the book not making much sense.

I’m very grateful that someone has put the original 1903 text up on Lulu.com where it can be downloaded for free in PDF form or purchased as an inexpensive paperback. It is a very interesting read that takes us through Hannah’s spiritual development from her devout Quaker beginnings in the Pennsylvania of the 1830s, via the Brethren, her discovery of Christian Universalism, the Higher Life movement in England and Methodist Holiness ideals. She reflects on her fellowship with other believers, her doubts as her understanding is challenged, and on the wisdom of her old age at the beginning of the 20th Century in England. A fascinating document, now restored.