Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Springtime for Hitler and Germany

I Just finished reading Footprints on the Horizon by Stephanie Grace Whitson. It was ok. It was on my research list because her period setting is similar to my own novel (WWII, Post-War Nebraska) and I wanted to read some other works to get a feel for how they approached it.

It was published by Bethany House. If that doesn't immediately speak to you, change the name to Zondervan. I have no problems with books including faith and religion, it's not for everyone but, as a Christian, I don't mind. I even believe there are authors who manage to weave it in and apply their character's faith without it being heavy handed, as in the case of Liz Curtis Higgs. This was not one such example. I was kind of miffed when the one Catholic character was (praise the Lord!) saved at the end of the book and converted to Baptist. Apparently, this character became quite fiery and was intent on starting up a revival. Sigh. I have no beef with the Baptist church but a smidge of denominational diversity was not going to hurt anyone.

Those complaints aside this story did raise an interesting point for me. Footprints on the Horizon is set in Crawford, Nebraska, a small town just outside of the Fort Robinson military reservation. Toward the end of WWII, Fort Robinson served as a prisoner of war camp. With the shortage of men, many ranches and farms used prisoner of war labor and it was controversial. Footprints on the Horizon deals with, among other things, the community of Crawford's initial hate and distrust of the German prisoners and eventually coming to befriend them as human beings and not Nazis. It's not a new concept. We all learned in school about the radical freak out about Germans (and Japanese) during the war. Street names were changed to sound less German. Families of German descent were considered suspicious and their shops and stores were boycotted. Anyone having anything to do with Germany was considered to be a potential Nazi. And obviously, every one who fought on Hitler's side was in love with the master race and readily killed Jews. I would hope that, by this time, everyone recognizes and accepts the untruth of those assumptions. Many German soldiers were impressionable young men who believed they were fighting for the good of their homeland. Many soldiers and civilians had no idea about the atrocities going on in the labor camps. Many who were faced with the injustice of neighbors being taken away stood up to defend them. Many were just trying to protect their families. Not every German was a Nazi. Not every Nazi was a barbarous killer. This is not to say that atrocities and injustices weren't done and this is not to excuse those who were "just following orders" and took no moral stand, Nuremburg addressed that. The point I want to make is when we look at German now we don't assume they're a Nazi. We don't shun our Shrader and Zimmermann neighbors because their families hailed from Germany.

So, why do we assume all Middle Easterners are Muslim extremists? Why do we assume all Muslims are attempting to destroy the United States, Christianity, and apple pie? Why, ten years out from the 9/11 attacks, do we still assume that every Muslim American harbors a secret hatred of their country? Well, I don't assume that. Maybe you don't either. There are people that do. There are people who think that burqas should be outlawed because people could be hiding bombs and shit under them. There are people who think that we need to outlaw Sharia law now because otherwise one day we'll all have to answer to it. And there are people who are idiots for all these reasons. Sorry, that wasn't said in Christian love. There are people whom God did not grant much intelligence and whose hearts are the size of the Grinch's pre-Cindy-Lou-Who.

I'm tired of hearing about whether or not a religion is "peaceful". Except perhaps Satanism, which I'm not sure if that's technically defined as a religion or not, I'm pretty sure peace is widely accepted as being a "good idea" by most faiths and creeds. And I have yet to learn of a religion in which violence was not widely implemented as the means of establishing that peace. Christians, we have no room to talk about being a "peaceful" religion. The crusades always come to mind, of course, and you might say, "But that was the Catholics, and everyone knows they're just as bad." And to you I say, "Iconoclasm, witch hunts, Anabaptists, Westboro Baptist Church." So, let's all just check our baggage at the door, shall we? Can we all just get on with our lives following Wheaton's law?

P.S. Why is apple pie so American anyway?

6 comments:

  1. Hahaha, I love this post.

    First of all, I, not being a Christian, mostly avoid any Christian fiction. This is somewhat unfair, since some of it is actually good. I read one fairly recently; it wasn't outstanding, but it was good and didn't beat you over the head with the religion stick. But some of them do! I tried to read a friend's recommendation a couple of years ago and every chapter began with a Bible verse and the characters had to pray or praise the lord on pretty much every page. Come on, guys. If it's that constant, then leave it implied. Sometimes it feels like the author's so focused on proselytizing that they forget to, you know, tell a story.

    Actually, there are some people who still constantly suspect Germans of being Nazis/completely awful people. I hear about this a lot in middle and high school when I decided to take German. Yes, these were kids, but these ideas probably came from somewhere. Awful.

    The real problem here: the fact that people want to universalize/stereotype. It's much easier for their one brain cell to say that since one Muslim person or German person did something or believed a certain thing, then clearly all of them do so. Same with them uppity Catholics, if you get my drift.

    Uniting these topics, I just read a book called The Baker's Daughter. It's set in modern Texas and draws some parallels between immigration and Nazi Germany. It was pretty cool.

    P.S. I don't really know. I mean, I'm pretty sure we weren't the first culture to eat something like that. German's have some apple desserts in fried crusts...conspiracy?

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  2. I know I complain about it a lot but I feel like eventually we've got to grow up, right? I mean, there's going to come a day when we all look around and go, "Wow, we focus on some really petty stuff. Let's stop." No? Hmm, ok.

    I read your review of The Baker's Daughter. It's on my reading list now. My reading list grows exponentially as you continue to read books.

    P.S. So, we first steal their desserts, make them our own, and then blame them as trying to destroy our way of life? It's brilliant!

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  3. Haha, then your reading list is going to go crazy, because I am trying to get through a book a day this year.

    Speaking of books, I totally made a list for you (when you asked months and months ago), but I wanted to write up little annotations, so I haven't gotten it to you, but I totally will do it!

    P.S. Maybe Americans are clever than we thought...?

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  4. Ack! More clever or cleverer! Typing fail!

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  5. I agree with you darling, but am afraid I have less faith in the human race to put aside their differences and come together. Hope I'm wrong, but I suspect it will be a long long time before we are evolved enough to have collective sense.

    p.s. Found this explaination...Apple pie has orgins back to the Middle Ages (who knew?!) But this episode made it famous across our country: "1890s - According to the historians of the Cambridge Hotel in Washington County New York, Professor Charles Watson Townsend, dined regularly at the Cambridge Hotel during the mid 1890's. He often ordered ice cream with his apple pie. Mrs. Berry Hall, a diner seated next to him, asked what it was called. He said it didn’t have a name, and she promptly dubbed it Pie a la mode. Townsend liked the name so much he asked for it each day by that name. When Townsend visited the famous Delmonico Restaurant in New York City, he asked for pie a la mode. When the waiter proclaimed he never heard of it, Townsend chastised him and the manager, and was quoted as saying; "Do you mean to tell me that so famous an eating place as Delmonico's has never heard of Pie a la Mode, when the Hotel Cambridge, up in the village of Cambridge, NY serves it every day? Call the manager at once, I demand as good serve here as I get in Cambridge." The following day it became a regular at Delmonico and a resulting story in the New York Sun (a reporter was listening to the whole conversation) made it a country favorite with the publicity that ensued." (http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/PieHistory/ApplePie.htm)

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  6. P.S. Wow! That's interesting! I'm always intrigued when American staples are so relatively modern. For instance, chocolate chip cookies, which are a 1930s invention. What?! They weren't always around?? How did we live before that?! Drat, now I want pie and cookies.

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