Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Word to Ponder - Intolerance

Perhaps it would not hurt to be reminded that the Incarnation was, in fact, an act of colossal intolerance on the part of God, by which I mean to say that it was an act of immeasurable love. He loved us so much that he would not let us die in our sins. He was intolerant of our slavery and was born among us for the express purpose of doing something rather drastic about it... It may well be asked if such a tainted word can be properly used to describe a characteristic of God. He is, after all, rich in mercy and slow to anger. But it must be remembered that both the Old and New Testaments speak of times when the justice of God must act - for he will not permit evil to devour everything.

... This is the intolerance of the physician who is prejudiced against viruses because he has seen an epidemic ravage a people. This is the intolerance of a mother who fiercely protects her little ones from predators. She suffers from a bias against rattlesnakes and wolves. This apparent narrowness is the wisdom of those who have known many roads and have found only one sure route out of the regions of desolation.

(From A Landscape With Dragons by Michael D. O'Brien, p. 161-163)

Friday, August 13, 2010

London 1945 by Maureen Waller

My interest in World War II history centers on the home front rather than on the battlefield so it was only natural that I’d be drawn to Maureen Waller’s book about life in London during that time. Although London 1945 emphasizes the final year of the war, Waller includes many facts about the harsh realities before and after the war as well.

I enjoy watching films that were made during the 1940’s. To boost morale and encourage patriotism these films often glamorized the war. Modern day critics call this “propaganda”, but I find that label too simplistic. To me, the movies are an amazing thread in the fabric of WWII history and how people coped with the war.

The first half of the book reminded me of those films in that it highlighted the determination and courage of the English people to protect their homeland. But the second half of the book points out the devastating results of the war without a bit of sugar coating. The upheaval of community life due to bombed out neighborhoods, absent fathers, working-for-the-war-effort mothers and closed schools led to a huge increase in juvenile delinquency and out-of-wedlock pregnancies. Single motherhood and abortion were frowned upon, which led to 50,000 babies being put up for adoption by war’s end.

We’ve all heard of the Blitz that ravaged London from September 1940 to May 1941, but I’d never heard of the V-2 rockets that devastated the city (what was left of it) near the end of the war. Neither did I know that England was bankrupted by its participation in the war and that food rationing continued on until the 1950’s. Many other hardships are detailed by Waller, making this book a treat for history buffs.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Quote from A Lantern In Her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich

When I first heard about Bess Streeter Aldrich through Lanier's Books, I quickly went over to PaperBackSwap and ordered a copy of A Lantern in Her Hand. It is the story of Abbie Deal who moved with her husband Will to the Nebraska territory in the 1860's. In this passage her daughter is chiding her mother for the smallness of her life.

"Your life has been so narrow, mother. You ought to get out and see things."

Unwittingly, as she often did, Grace had hurt her mother's feelings. For a moment Abbie nursed her little hurt, and then said quietly, "You know, Grace, it's queer, but I don't feel narrow. I feel broad. How can I explain it to you, so you would understand? I've seen everything and I've hardly been away from the yard. I've seen the snow on the Lombardy poplars. I've seen the clouds piled upon the edge of the prairie. I've seen the ocean billows in the rise and fall of the prairie grass. I've seen history in the making... three ugly wars flare up and die down. I've sent a lover and two brothers to one, a son and son-in-laws to another, and two grandsons to the other. I've seen the feeble beginning of a raw state and the civilization that has developed there, and I've been part of the beginning of the growth.

I've married... and borne children and looked into the face of death. Is childbirth narrow, Grace? Or marriage? Or death? When you've experienced all those things, Grace, the spirit has traveled although the body has been confined. I think travel is a rare privilege and I'm glad you can have it. But not everyone who stays home is narrow and not everyone who travels is broad." (p. 198)