Peace Shall Destroy Many, set in an isolated area of northern Saskatchewan in 1944, details a young Mennonite’s growing awareness of the conflicting demands among his Christian faith, his church community, and his country at war. The novel is Rudy Wiebe’s first, and it aroused considerable controversy among North American Mennonites.
In the spring of 1944, Thom Wiens, working on his father’s farm and awaiting his military call, begins his quest for the truth within and beyond “the traditions of the fathers.” The acknowledged leader of the Wapiti Mennonite Church and community is Deacon Peter Block, who financed the trip and land for the Mennonites he brought to Canada from Russia. He controls the church and community with an iron hand, having led them to this isolated region where they can live separate from worldly influences and raise their children in peace. Thom, encouraged by the teacher Joseph Dueck, starts to question some of the trappings of their faith: their extreme position of nonresistance, the requirement of speaking German in all church services, and their disdain of their Indian and mixed-race neighbors.
As summer, fall, and winter proceed, Thom confronts his feelings about the war. He questions the practice of allowing others to fight and die so that he can live in peace. Simultaneously, events in the community affect his understanding of the Christian faith, and he wonders where truth is to be found. Joseph...
(The entire section is 526 words.)