Under God’s Authority
I love Sherlock Holmes.
I’ve read, several times over, every Sherlock story Arthur Conan-Doyle ever wrote—even one that didn’t get published in his lifetime.
It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that my first novel, The Case of the Exploding Speakeasy, puts the son of Dr. Watson and the brother of Sherlock Holmes in 1920s Philadelphia to investigate an explosion at a speakeasy, which has killed the owner and his card-playing buddies.
The story reflects another interest of mine: the Roaring ’20s and the “Great Experiment” known as Prohibition. It’s an era with some lessons to teach the church— not the lessons we often hear.
Nearly every law has a moral component.
No, the lesson I’m thinking of comes from Psalm 11:3: “When the foundations [of law and order] are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” The culture of the 1920s was one of deep corruption and hypocrisy. The political leaders of that era voted to outlaw the production and sale of alcoholic beverages, with no intention of obeying that law themselves. They voted in the 18th Amendment, and toasted it with a drink.
Following their example, a surprisingly large percentage of common citizens, especially in urban areas, disobeyed the law. Organized crime flourished because of this disrespect for the law, and led to an increase in other illegal activities, such as gambling, prostitution, and loansharking. The psalmist asks a hard question: when no one else wants to obey the law, what can the righteous do?
The very next verse assures us, “The LORD still rules from heaven,” and the believer must continue to stand for what is right.
Today, when certain aspects of our culture reflect the lawlessness of the 1920s, remember God is still on the throne, and we are under His authority.
David E. Fessenden is an independent publishing consultant with degrees in journalism and theology, and over 30 years of experience in writing and editing. He has published several nonfiction books and written hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles. The Case of the Exploding Speakeasy, his first novel, debuts in November from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, and reflects his love for history and for the Sherlock Holmes stories of Arthur Conan-Doyle. www.fromconcepttocontract.com