A couple of books

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I read the English copy of this book by Peter Hessel entitled Hitler’s Boy.  He was in Arnprior last fall to speak about it so I bought a copy.  It is the fascinating tale of what it was like to grow up in Germany during the WWII years.  Peter, raised by a single Mom was enthralled with Hitler and joined the Hitler Youth.  He proudly wore his uniform and badges at every opportunity.  He longed to fight for his country and to even die for the Furher who was seen as making Germany great again.  He was too young and never able to soldier.
Hitler told the Germans that the Poles were committing atrocities against Germans which was a lie, in order to justify the invasion of Poland.  He also told the Germans that the Jews were dangerous.  Everyone was following orders and hence there was no limit to the wrongdoing that could be and was done to the Jews in the holocaust.  After initial victories in the east and west, gradually the tide turned and shortages of food, fuel and commodities grew.  For example citizens were asked to hand over their jewelry to be melted down for munitions manufacture. Finally he and his mother, near starvation are forced to move back from Prussia to the homeland.  There are constant air raid sirens and eventually the Americans liberate their home town for the Allies with little bloodshed.
The book is an interesting first hand account and eerily relevant of how a demagogue can brainwash a whole generation through lies, scapegoat others and emerge as the invincible savior of a nation.  Well written personal family history, well worth the read: 4.5 stars of 5  If you want to borrow my copy, let me know.
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This is book I inherited from mom and had always intended to read.  Written by evangelical journalist Philip Yancey, it has sold many copies since its 1995 release.  A little wary of what an evangelical Christian might say, I was pleasantly surprised that there was no Catholic bashing, and in fact praise for Catholic theology.  As well, the author is not as fully supportive of Trump as the 80% of white evangelicals who voted for Trump are.
Talking about the parable of the Pharisee (who thanks God for not being a tax collector) and the tax collector (who admits he is a wretched sinner) whom Jesus exalts in Luke’s gospel, he concludes: “Can we infer from Jesus story that behaviour does not matter, that there is no moral difference between a disciplined legalist and a robber, evildoer and adulterer. Of course not. Behaviour matters in many ways; it is simply not how to get accepted by God concludes Yancey A great point.
In writing about the Sermon on the Mount Yancey talks about the great reversal that the Beatitudes must have heralded: Blessed are the poor in spirit for they shall inherit the world.   Then if so, why does the church strive to eradicate poverty rather than promote it Yancey asks?  He says the strict rules laid down by Jesus here was his way of describing what God and heaven are like. Yes we should strive for this behaviour on earth but no, we will never attain it. Enter grace the new logic of the world. Because God loves the poor, the suffering, the persecuted and sees no undesirables, so should we!
The author praises Doesteyesky and Tolstoy novels saying they showed him what the Sermon on the Mount really means! The Brothers Karamazov he says is probably the best novel ever written.  The novel tells the story that perhaps Jesus made the wrong choice when tempted in the desert by the devil.  All he had to do was cure some major disease forever, wipe out war etc. to ensure the triumph of Christianity.  Tolstoy on the other hand tried to live the Sermon on the Mount, gave everything away and constantly tried to serve others (except his wife and family members apparently.  He died a lonely impoverished in a train station as did not get the grace and forgiveness part.  I had forgotten about these Russian authors.
I started to lose interest near the end of the book as Yancey seemed to be just repeating what is in bible verse.  The main point I took away from this book is the huge restraint Jesus used throughout his ministry.  He could have literally moved mountains, eradicated poverty, ended racism, defeated Rome etc. Perhaps this was a mistake Jesus did make in his ministry the author wonders?  Rather Jesus chose a rag-tag group of low levels to be his disciples and pass the word on to the world. He permitted himself to die on the cross.  It was all God’s will, not necessarily his.  4 out of 5 stars.

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