I have recently finished reading a lovely story called That Printer of Udell’s: A Story of the Middle West by Harold Bell Wright.  Originally printed in 1903, Lamplighter Publishing reprinted it in 2005 as part of their Rare Collector’s Series. 

The publisher’s note says,

Among Harold Bell Wright’s many novels, That Printer of Udell’s is his first and most famous.  A notable seller in its day, the book attained to an even higher level of notoriety during the presidency of Ronald Reagan.  Of this very story that had a great impact of the life of the former President, he wrote:

“That book, That Printer of Udell’s, had an impact I shall always remember…The term ‘role model’ was not a familiar term in that time and place.  But I realize I found a role model in that traveling printer whom Harold Bell Wright had brought to life.  He set me on a course I’ve tried to follow even unto this day.  I shall always be grateful.”  –Ronald Reagan

There are a number of reason’s that I enjoyed this story; however, the most important aspect to me was the issue of ‘cultural Christianity’.  Wright tells of the same problems that we experience today in the postmodern church:  Christian business men who attend church for business reasons; women who use Sunday services to make fashion statements; young adults who go to youth programs to socialize. 

The main character, Dick Faulkner, comes to a mid-western town looking for work.  He is poor, hungry and in need of help.  Having no family or friends and looking like a vagrant, he is turned away by churches and Christian businessmen in his effort to find employment.  Not until he meet’s a kind printer named Udell does his situation change. 

From that point on, Dick’s life is described in wonderful detail.  We learn a bit of his past and watch as he growns in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.  His struggles are physical and spiritual and yet his resolve is stong.  It is fascinating to see how God uses this man to reflect humility, honesty and hard work.  Truly a delightful read!

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