Tuesday, July 17, 2018

I Have Learned

via Pixabay.
This beautiful picture has nothing to do with the post, but I'm sure some deep and clever metaphor could be found herein. 
I'm almost halfway through the stack of books for this summer. Five are ticked off; six more (and a review book) to go. They have kept me company riding in the car on a day so hot I worried I had damaged a new library book....awake at night flipping through my Kindle....lying in bed exhausted after a party....or just settling down in the evening before going to sleep.

I've learned about the kings of England. Julia Baird's biography of Victoria absolutely geeked me out. I knew her story from the Victoria miniseries and The Young Victoria, but somehow it feels solid and respectable to add a nonfiction biography as part of your fandom, you know? Then you actually know what's real. I don't know what it is about Victoria, but somehow I can hear her story again and again and again. My favorite part of the biography was learning about her ancestors. Somehow I didn't really know that Victoria's grandfather was king during the Revolutionary War. It's amazing to see a bunch of dissipated, dreadful sons (barring Victoria's father) race to marry a bunch of German women and produce an heir--all due to the death of the king's granddaughter and Parliament's plea. It's even more amazing to think that there was a male grandson--but because he was Victoria's younger cousin, he missed the throne. Also interesting: so much accuracy in the Victoria miniseries.

Sometimes I think I could be a queen. Not in the "everybody serve me" way, but in a bittersweet, slightly lonely Victoria way.

I've learned about the FBI. James Comey's actions struck passionate discussions, and their ripple effects are still continuing. Back in 2017, I found Comey's questionings before a committee to be fascinating (I didn't know who he was before that). I find the guardedness of secret intelligence to be fascinating, liked his presentation, and wanted to read his book for myself.

In his book, Comey confesses both to ego, and to sometimes struggling to make the final decision in a situation where high-up people are involved. If he knows that about himself, I wouldn't be surprised if that influenced his course of action later. Most of his book struck me as balanced and readable, but the section on Trump felt rawer; less clear-sighted--a life situation that probably would have been better with time to judge and temper it. But book deals won't wait for time while the iron's hot.

The most chilling phrase I read was when Comey alerted someone to an issue with Trump (I wish I hadn't returned the book so fast. Most likely it was connected with the Justice Department or the Attorney General). After not hearing back, he contacted the man he sent it to again. The man's response? "[expletive deleted], I hoped it would just go away." (Again, I returned the book too soon so this isn't an exact quotation.)

I hoped it would just go away. That phrase can echo in the church, the family, the individual human soul: I didn't know what to do, so I hoped it would just go away. You can replace "it" with anything: a struggle with sin or a doubt of faith or a secret abuse or a relationship strain: I hoped it would just go away is often the heartfelt cry of our finite humanity.

"It" doesn't go away. It must be seized. Faced. Grappled with. Brought to face the light and honesty, no matter how inconvenient or uncomfortable. That is the only way to ever make "it" go away.

After reading the book, I think it's hard for a human to be in the FBI. To be without bias politically, to make hard decisions about the ugly secrets of people in power, requires a cast-iron commitment to principle and inability to be swayed from the right thing that I'm not sure I could muster.

I've learned about love. On July 5th I finished reading Tracy Groot's Flame of Resistance, a Rahab retelling about a British pilot who teams up with a French prostitute during WW2. I cried all over the end. That climax was absolutely stellar. Powerful, powerful themes of love and sacrifice in one delicious twist after another.  I need to learn how to twist a story like that.

I've learned about caring for the outcast. One story I didn't expect to discover this summer was Call the Midwife. It made me cry too. Call the Midwife Season 1 is a beautiful, poignant set of episodes about ministering to all--the dirty, the poor, the joyful, the sinners. Babies come regardless of the circumstances in which they were conceived--whether it's a newlywed couple's first baby or the result of a one night stand. The whole series is a touching picture of humanity--of people who have sinned and aren't repentant--of people who have sinned and want to hide--of people who have found love and marriage later and still experience loss--and of people who have loved for decades and still have room for one more baby. The main nurse, Jenny, comes to the East End of London unaware at first of all the filth and suffering. And it's powerful to see how she must provide compassion and care to everyone regardless of their moral standing. Stories like this, at the age I am now, expand my heart within my faith. (Episode 2 has gritty and touching themes of child sex-trafficking. Episode 5 has gritty/mature, but not visually graphic, themes as well.) I'm really looking forward to season 2.

So far this summer has been inspiring and tear-inducing. Seven books to go. I can't wait for them.

Though I haven't cried over Martin Luther yet.


  1. That sounds like such a rich summer of reading and watching and contemplating so far, dear Schuyler friend! How happy I am that you are exploring such richness. That quotation is indeed quite poignant. A lot of things in my life right now I can wish "it would just go away", but you are so right. Things need to be grappled with, prayed and wrestled through and it isn't always easy or feels safe. It can be terrifying. But so important too.

    I would like to investigate some of the books and shows you've mentioned as well :).

    1. Aw, hugs, friend! <3 You are so right. I hope they get better--and disappear in the best and most healing of ways.

      Oo, you might enjoy Call the Midwife! It would be so fun if you watched it! A friend told me seasons 1&2 are especially good, though they might fizzle out in the later series!


  2. I wonder if the Comey book's going to influence later Folkestone books too?

    And isn't it cool when something sensational enough to make a good story has the added advantage of having happened in real life? It's not just "oh, this is an inspirational story about a queen, how nice, I think I'll read (or watch) it again," but "she really lived, in this world, and did all these things!"



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...