Posted: Thursday, November 10, 2011 1:15 am
Jamie Barrand firstname.lastname@example.org
WAYNETOWN — When Mel Vance retired as a teacher at North Montgomery High School several years ago, he decided to take up a hobby.
“I didn’t do woodworking or anything, so I needed something to get me through the winters,” the 74-year-old man said.
Vance took up writing, and he recently published his first book.
“The Blackness of Utter Darkness” is a look at the theology of hell. The book compares the ancient legends and common beliefs about hell, many of which are rooted in Pagan religion and Greek mythology, with the Bible’s teachings about hell.
The book discusses the theological teachings and myths regarding life, death and the afterlife. It includes elements of religious and secular history as well as Pagan legends.
“To write any sort of non-fiction book, you really have to be interested in what you’re writing about,” Vance said. “I had a great passion for this subject, and I knew there was a lot of misinformation out there that needed clearing up.”
“The Blackness of Utter Darkness” is available through amazon.com, where several reviews are posted.
“This book causes us to reflect on what is truth and what is not,” one reviewer said. “For myself, as well as many who grew up in this culture, we have a very vivid idea of what hell will be like. This author does a very good job researching where these ideas came from.”
Another review described the book as “thought provoking.”
“If you are looking for a book with a lot of fluff that leaves you with a warm and fuzzy feeling, this is not it,” the review said. “This is serious theology.”
Vance spent the better part of two winters doing research before he even began writing.
“Then I spent about that much time at the word processor,” he said. “I’m not a very fast typist.”
Vance purposely kept the book relatively short — it has 120 pages.
“It’s kind of a neat feeling to have a book published, but it’s something anyone can do,” he said. “I don’t even really care if it sells; this is just something I wanted to do.”
Vance called the subject matter of his book “controversial and complicated.”
“After writing the book, I’m even more convinced in my conclusions,” he said. “I know a lot of people don’t agree with me, but even some people who don’t have told me they really appreciated the research that went into the book.”
Vance was raised in Harrison County. He graduated from Purdue University, and after college began teaching agricultural science and biology at Waynetown High School. After the school’s consolidation he taught at North Montgomery High School, and right after his retirement from North Montgomery he was a professor of environmental science for Indiana Wesleyan University’s adult studies program.
Vance and his wife Lois, who was a local elementary school teacher for many years, have three children, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Vance will sign copies of his book 1-4 p.m. Sunday at the Crawfordsville District Public Library.