By Ronda Gilger, Major -
Told from the perspective of the “American Press’ Culture-Lens,” Dr. R. G. Moyles’ latest work, “Maud, Emma, Evangeline: America’s Love Affair with the 3 Booth Women” (Frontier Press, 2014), hands us a unique look into the lives of three extraordinary women.
Moyles—professor emeritus of English literature and former associate dean of arts at the University of Alberta in Canada—captures Maud, Emma and Evangeline, who each captured the hearts and minds of the public, rising to celebrity status as the “darling, the face, the perceived image” of The Salvation Army in America.
Frankly, there are some juicy bits of early Salvation Army history in which the reader realizes that it takes just the right woman in the right place at the right time to create the perfect storm. And that they do create as The Salvation Army emerges in culture intact and on task.
You’ll find yourself smiling at what appears to be unabashed humanness and fickle public perception. Lifted up as Salvation Army queens, Madonnas, and Modern Joan of Arcs, the “royal” Booths move fluidly between the wealthy of society and the most marginalized.
Their appearance fascinates journalists whose descriptions of every detail evoke both awe and curiosity. Their message, presentations and methods are on the cutting edge as they effectively speak to the public conscience.
I loved Maud’s poignant quote as she describes their mission: “We’re diving for pearls among fallen and hardened humanity and we’re willing to go down in the mire and slush.”
Through joy and personal tragedy, as leaders, these women anchor the work of The Salvation Army into American culture. What moves them beyond the page is their ability to perform extraordinarily in a man’s world, championing causes of inequality and social justice while revealing God’s heart.