The Universal Business Team (UBT) are now into publishing History books. The books appear to be large, heavy, expensively bound, profusely illustrated and now apparently run to at least 15 volumes. The currently advertised volume describes itself as Vol. XV, although the narrator on a video advertisement refers only to “the six books and the CD set”. Presumably the video was shot when there were only 6 volumes. The books are accompanied by a set of audio CDs in which the text is professionally narrated.
The currently advertised volume has the title “On the Front Line. Veterans’ Memoirs and Wartime Experiences – an Extraordinary Collection from New Zealand”. It has been produced by “The New Zealand Frontline Team.”
On its back cover there is a quotation from the Darby translation of Psalm 91: 5-7 followed by an explanation of what the books are intended to do.
“Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night, for the arrow that flieth by day,
For the pestilence that walketh in darkness, for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; [but] it shall not come nigh thee.”
It goes on to say something like, “These verses were an assurance for many soldiers that experienced the trials and tests of active military service during the war, and are a scriptural basis for the publishing of these books. It is proposed that the publishing of these books will accurately record the memories of those who served in the armed forces and other relevant accounts and cover such experiences as
· Witness to government
· Military training
· Discipline of army life
· Witness to fellow soldiers
· Incidents of proving God’s mercy
· Other interesting anecdotes”
The video advert for the series of books shows excerpts of documentary films shot during the Second World War, and photos taken during the war. The videos of soldiers marching are accompanied by music of a triumphalist, heroic flavour. The anecdotes recorded seem to be mainly Brethren anecdotes. The people who appear in the modern movie clips are nearly all Brethren women or children, the only exception being a man who drives dangerously while distracted by listening to his CD.
The best part of the video advert is an interview with an elderly Brethren woman called Mrs Cox, who reminisces about the war years. She is the only one who emphasised that although some people have a glorified idea of war, nobody wants its horrors. It is too awful.
The video says the books are “Safe, Educational and Motivational.”
You can watch the promotional video at http://ubteam.wistia.com/medias/cphxpz2zh1but now that non-Brethren know it is there, it might not be there for much longer.
At the same site there are links to UBT sites where you can order the books, except that you can’t unless you have a password. You need a password even to find out how much they cost. So when I say the UBT are now into publishing, maybe “publishing” is not quite the right word for it.
The books are evidently produced by Exclusive Brethren for Exclusive Brethren, are partly about Exclusive Brethren and are being marketed, as far as I can see, only to Exclusive Brethren.
I wonder if we are also going to see special Brethren versions of other potentially controversial school subjects, such as biology, economics, geography, astronomy, current affairs, politics or comparative religion. And what about ancient history? That would be a difficult one, because according to many of the Brethren, ancient history never really happened: the Palaeolithic age and the billions of years before it didn’t actually exist, and the last 6000 years occurred exactly as described in the Bible.
There is something vaguely unsettling about a special version of history for a closed group. Why would the Brethren want to read a different version of history from non-Brethren? What is “safe” about this series, and what by implication is “unsafe” about books written by professional historians? In what sense are these books “Motivational”? What will they motivate Brethren children to do?