On the altar

Missionaries’ faith—the kind of faith that inspired and impelled men and women to take the gospel into all the world—seems to lie beyond poet Oliver Reynolds’s ken. Reviewing Tom Hiney’s On the Missionary Trail (Chatto & Windus), which is “the classic Georgian adventure of two Englishmen sent on a journey around the world, 1821-29,” Reynolds writes: “The actions of belief can be described, but what about belief itself? Why, and how, do we believe? Hiney’s narrative is based on a given, on something inexplicable; these thousand-mile journeyings begin with a step of faith” (Times Literary Supplement, April 7).


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