Where Nets Were Cast: Christianity in Oceania since World War II

Article excerpt

Where Nets Were Cast: Christianity in Oceania Since World War II. By John Garrett. Suva, Fiji: Institute of Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific; and Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1997. Pp. xi, 499. Paperback $13.

This volume must be seen in connection with two earlier volumes by the same author, To Live Among the Stars and Footsteps in the Sea. Together the three volumes cover the whole history of Christianity in the Pacific Islands and constitute what will surely endure through future generations as one of the great landmarks in the writing of non-Western church history. This work, like the other two, is painted on a large canvas covering nineteen island countries in its sweep. It is based on years of meticulous research, including travel through the islands and examination of obscure as well as major archives.

The book is an example of what might be called pure history-the stories of actual men and women and what they did. The author has a keen eye and a rich vocabulary for depicting real people. The institutional history of missions and churches is woven in and around the lives of the men and women who formed and operated those institutions. This approach makes for absorbing reading.

Inevitably, when dealing with such a wide field, there will be certain omissions. For example, in the discussion of the tensions between the bishop and the seminary teachers in New Caledonia, there is no mention that the seminary was closed and the training of indigenous priests set back for years. …