Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Book Review: Hanna Schott's Love in a Time of Hate

The inspiring story of  Magda and Andre Trocme is a story many might be unfamiliar with. It's one that needs to be heard because their story makes a statement without needing to point out it was a statement.  The Trocme's did have personal accounts they had written about their lives, and Magda would later submit those unfinished memoirs to Swarthmore College in Philadephia. German Journalist Hanna Schott draws from those written accounts, other written historical work about Le Chambon during WWII, and firsthand accounts of survivors still living in Le Chambon to write about the couple who hid Jewish refugees in their village during WWII. Because it is a story adapted by Schott there are added questions, feelings, and focuses making it more so what she personally took from their story than told through their eyes.

Summary: Love in a Time of Hate tells the gripping tale of Magda and AndrE TrocmE, the couple that transformed a small town in the mountains of southern France into a place of safety during the Holocaust. At great risk to their own lives, the TrocmEs led efforts in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon to hide more than three thousand Jewish children and adults who were fleeing the Nazis. In this astonishing story of courage, romance, and resistance, learn what prompted AndrE and Magda to risk everything for the sake of strangers who showed up at their door. Building on the story told in Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed, German journalist Hanna Schott portrays a vivid story of resisting evil and sheltering refugees with striking resonance for today. 

I assume since it is stated in the summary the story provides "striking resonance for today" means the message to take away is how similar we're treating current refugees in 2017 to how the Jewish were treated during WWII.  We see the example of Magda and Andre who despite the risk of their safety was determined to act on what they thought was their religious duties and provide shelter and safety to those who had nowhere else to go. They didn't compromise their own religious convictions in the wake of many challenges despite the tough questions they had to ask including, "when is deception okay?" The task of weaving the story in with a message to continue in a modern day context is mostly in the introduction of the book. 

Vicki Reddy, founder of We Welcome Refugees and executive producer of The JUSTICE Conference, writes of how she connected to Love In a Time of Hate to the current refugee crisis, "I keep asking: Where is the church right now? Where are the followers of Jesus? What are doing in response to the greatest humantarian crisis of our time?"

There are obvious accounts of what happened to directly show all the dynamics to stir the audience in what they see today too in the book. While I find it compelling, inspiring, and a scary tale of what we see occurring in society today, I also hesitate to ever use someone else's story to make a point they can't directly speak on now. We can assume with almost 100% certainty Andrea and Magda would have responded the same to the refugee crisis of now, but we don't need to make that statement because we can see it in their actions.

As easily as we can interpret Magda and Andre's story of one about love and peace found through their belief in Christ, someone can just as easily argue their positions for war and nationalism drawing from the Bible. I would know since I've had the arguments defending refugees against those citing the Bible as reasons we shouldn't. How do you respond to people of the same religion who oppose how you identify with Christ when they are spending hours in churches trying to understand and sympathize with the atrocities of King David, a man even described as being after God's own heart, in the Old Testament as a powerful military leader who made some "mistakes" in war? I've even had people cite Jesus himself as a reason you bear arms by taking just taking a chunk of the context in Luke 22. Then Exodus 22 reads a lot like the "Stand Your Ground" laws in states like Florida or Oklahoma. It wasn't for lack of reasons based in the Bible that people scoffed at Andre choosing to be a pacifist in the reformed church during his era, though I find it an admirable quality about Andre.

The story of Andre and Magda themselves is inspiring as it is, and I would have loved had the book dedicated more time to the Trocme's time in Le Chambon. Almost 150 pages discuss Andre and Magda's childhood, their meeting in the U.S., and they eventual landing in Le Chambon, but only a little over 100 pages discuss their life hiding Jewish refugees in the village. I never could get the whole grasp of their sacrifice because it was all so brief, especially the part where Daniel Trocme was taken by Nazis with the children he housed to a concentration camp, where he eventually died. Plus, Andre and Magda weren't only inspired and in the company of Christians, which showed a unity far beyond what could be captured in the book. Daniel was nonreligious and made that sacrifice, the Trocme's still let children at the school they founded practice their Jewish rituals, and the Trocme's were admirers of Gandhi. They had even planned a honeymoon trip they couldn't make to see Gandhi in India. I would have loved to have seen more of the letters from Andre and Magda to read more of their philosophy and what drew in particular to the Gospels?

Andre and Magda do have a timeless, heroic story. Even if we eventually mature as people regarding the current refugee crisis, and rise up to the do the right thing we will be using this story again and again because war will inevitably continue to cast citizens to the side.  Stories like Andre and Magda's don't need my added commentary to know what the right thing would have been to do then and now. They already show it through their actions. We hopefully will always find it in ourselves to do the right thing when helping others and put our own fears aside to do so, especially when we've never known fear like people pushed out of their homes and across the sea only knowing that floating into the unknown is better than the home you've always known.

This book was provided by Herald Press in exchange for a review. 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Perdeaux Fruit Farm - Travelers Rest, South Carolina

If you're near Travelers Rest, South Carolina during the summer or in the fall then you might want to make a stop by Perdeaux Fruit Farm. We stopped by in early July and by then it was already too late to find a lot of summer produce because they had been cleared out, but they have other seasonal fruits and products that they sell throughout the year. I would just call ahead to see what is available. Thankfully, a few peaches were available, so we grabbed some of those and they were delicious. We discovered this place on our South Carolina Agritourism Paspports, which led us to 15 farms.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

20 of 1001 Books: H.G. Wells' The Time Machine

After reading The Time Machine, I'm unsure why our 12th grade AP literature teacher had us read Timeline instead of The Time Machine. I don't even remember her mentioning H.G. Wells that pioneered the genre. Don't get me wrong, as an 18 year old I found more Timeline to be enjoyable, and even to do this day I remember it as a good book, but Wells seems to have more historical and literary aspects to explore when teaching.

Summary: An unnamed explorer recounts his travels to a group of men. These aren't just any travels though, but his travels through time. In the world he travels to he finds to different races. The Eloi who he finds some welcome with, and the Murdocks, who are scary and he believes are keeping his time travelling machine from him. Beyond the debacle of trying to get his time machine back, the explorer also sees a scary tomorrow in the future race if men don't change their ways. The hatred between the two groups has cast them apart from each other, and in different realms.

I should be honest and admit that I do have Spark Notes open while reading through older books, especially if they were written before the 1900s. My skill in reading the style is lacking, but I think it's slowly building as I practice reading slower. The Time Machine for the most part, I read just fine. It's not one that is too complicated to read. My main problem is that I'm not a huge science fiction fan, but I understand it's a popular genre. This also builds up more of a respect I can have for what H.G. Wells did for people who love the genre, by giving them the genre.

I've also come to enjoy exploring how writers then conveyed the way their own narrators in the story told their stories. In Frankenstein the book is a man writing to his love about a man they found stranded on an island with his monster. In The Time Machine it is an explorer telling his tale of a future land to other men, perhaps in the hopes of warning them away from a future he saw, but only one person seems to have any further inkling to explore the explorer's tale to heart. For most the books from then it doesn't seem people just imagined telling a tale as if it was happening in that moment. It was people referring to their past in the form of storytelling.

Credit: dlee at Free Images
You probably won't realize how innovative the book was unless you think of the time it was created in. No cars existed yet, electricity was just being explored, and a book like this is invented. It also shows that people have always perceived earth to have an inevitable Dsytopian future that still has yet to be seen. Not saying it isn't further dsytpia than what was, but nothing like The Time Machine and many others have seen thus far.

It is also interesting all the possible political undertones in the novel. I'm not familiar with British history, so I would know very little about what Wells' implies in his novel as far as his own views, but if you're familiar with the time of then, you would surely pick up on it.

The Victorian England setting and the weaving of technology seem a surefire way to inspire subculture fans, including steampuns, even to this day. In a way it's sort of awe inspiring and intriguing just how much Wells left an impact on the earth. In writing a book about the future and it's destination he actually spun many things into the world that I wonder if he even expected?

Monday, June 19, 2017

Vacancy Always Welcomes at Valley Courts Motel - Tryon, North Carolina

You're always going to find vacancy at the Valley Courts Motel. I noticed I had a fascination with old motels on the trips we've take to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is surrounded by abandon motels that once were probably popular with the public. We were one our way to Pearson's Falls when I noticed a motel on the way, and on the way back I asked Brandon if he wanted to stop. The hotel is listed as being in Tyron, North Carolina.


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