Writers write. There are many reasons people venture into writing—fame, fortune, revealing unknown history, or need to tell a personal story. I began writing historical fiction for children because I find history fascinating and I wanted to share my enthusiasm with children. Since I’m a believer in Jesus Christ, I weave my faith into my stories. My state of Ohio oozes history; visits to Marietta and Ripley inspired several of my novels. For my most recent book, Choosing Sides, I took up my pen to tell a piece of my own hometown’s history.
In the last quarter of the 1800’s, Westerville had fewer than a thousand residents, three major churches, and one small college. Unlike many small towns around the state, it had no bars or saloons. Church members were encouraged to abstain from alcohol, or at least be temperate. The per capita consumption of alcohol in the U.S back then was triple what is currently downed, resulting in wives being beaten, children going hungry, and families breaking apart. Westerville had good reason to be proud of its dry town status. Otterbein College bragged that parents could send prospective students to learn without worrying they’d be tempted to imbibe.
In 1875, Henry Corbin and his wife determined to shatter the peaceful village atmosphere by brazenly opening a saloon. My young protagonist crossed paths with the Corbins when he ran away from home to the nearby town of Westerville. Though his family was firmly pro-temperance, Gilbert earned money by helping the Corbins clean out the building for their saloon. Were you ever faced with a similar situation, where you chose what was expedient and tried to ignore your conscience? Gilbert had to choose, thus the title, Choosing Sides.
Westerville’s reaction to the Corbins and their saloon was—in a word—explosive! Newspaper write-ups, sometimes slanted against the town, put Westerville on the map. My research in the local history center sometimes made me laugh; other times I almost felt sorry for the Corbins.
I had to read between the lines of the write-ups to figure out what I hoped was the truth. Reminds me of Proverbs 18:17, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” Are you basing your choices on current issues on the one who states his case first? Better look at both sides of the story.
Gilbert was drawn into supporting an activity which conflicted with his beliefs.
Perhaps you also are faced with difficult choices in a struggle of values. Sitting on the fence is easier but gets uncomfortable after a while! We must choose sides and then stand up for our right choice. Only by digging into God’s Word will we find wise principles to help our decision about which side to choose.