Posts tagged Christian

Writing articles while I have time and “Unbroken”

Yesterday I wrote two articles for our local newspaper, today I have two more in rough draft form.  I am determined to get at least seven done out of the eight that I have planned.  Some of these articles are writing themselves and as if there is an outside force propelling me on.  That is a good feeling. I also did an interview of two educational administrators eleven years ago and I am using the text of what I videotaped to put together two articles about two very different people who worked alongside each other for a time.  They were very charming in their own way, one was the consummate extrovert, the other a studious but friendly gentleman. I met the latter’s son this past summer and he reminded me of the extrovert, so different from his father was he.

We are making our final plans to see family members while our days are waning in sunny Arizona.  We saw “Unbroken” last night and it was in a BIG theater with lots of people in attendance.  People clapped at the end out of a sense of relief.  We had all witnessed some frightful things about what the cruelties of war does to people.  Hate was personified in the Japanese prison guard called “The Bird.”  He seemed to enjoy his torture of the hero in the story who after he was freed at the war’s end went back to Japan to try and find all those who were part of the prison system he was under.  He met with all of them and gave them forgiveness but the person known as the Bird would not meet with Louie Z.  He did not want to be broken down by his forgiveness, who knows whatever happened to him.  Louie Z. died in his 90s but not before he returned to run with the Olympic flame in Japan which was a high point for him.

What a story of perseverance and eventual faith.  Louie went back to his Italian family in the U.S. after two years in the Japanese prison system. He eventually got married but he still suffered from post traumatic stress syndrome after what he had been through.  He was into drugs and alcohol until he went to a Billy Graham crusade.  The American pilot named Phil who had been in the life raft with him for over 45 days on the Pacific Ocean also survived the prisons in Japan.  He was a Christian and perhaps had some earlier impact on Louie.  His family were religious but he would have none of that until he heard the message about Jesus.  I’m glad that the movie portrayed that part of his story of what he went through but they only captured a part of it. My husband read the book and he claimed that it was much more about his return to civilian life and how he coped and changed for the good.  The life leading up to his days on the ocean and then two years of capture is just a small part of the whole, real life story.

I suppose Hollywood can only document so much in two hours of what was in the true story that Laura Hildebrand had written about Louie Zamparini (sp). I am glad that it was aired because watching about 20 minutes of previews showed that there are soooooo many other movies that are not worthwhile to even see. In fact, some are downright evil and dangerous to young minds.  Do people actually like going to these movies? Are there any good morals or inspiration to them?  With the movie “Unbroken,” there was the inspiration to survive and then to forgive those who had persecuted.

It will be interesting to see the other reviews on this movie.  This was only day two of it being out in the public.  I hope there is a sequel that will show the rest of Louie’s life.  He died just recently at the age of 90 or so.  What a victor and he would give all the glory to Christ.

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“Of GODS and MEN” and Kazakhstan

Last night my husband and I watched a French movie titled “Of Gods and Men” with English subtitles.  We learned many of the Catholic rituals that were followed by eight monks in the two hours of viewing.  They were living in Algeria back in the mid 1990s. Before what the rest of the world now knows after 9/11 about Muslim extremists and terrorists.  These priests made the tough decision to stay on for the benefit of the villagers who they cared for rather than leave to save their own skins.

Earlier we saw how the Croatians at a work site were slashed in their throats by the extremists.  The warning on imdb.com was that “Of Gods and Men” was a volatile, extremely violent movie.  I was ready for the end to see all eight monks slashed to death because we knew that they would be martyred for their Christian faith.  Didn’t happen quite the way we thought but I don’t want this to be a spoiler for those who have NOT seen this slow-moving but good movie.  I recommend it highly.

How does it relate to Kazakhstan? I think you have foreign people who have gained the trust of the Kazakhs and Kazakhstanis by learning the language (Kazakh and Russian). They live in Almaty or Astana sacrificing what could be an easier, “better” life in U.K. or the U.S. or other western countries. (Not many I know of are actually living in the countryside beside Peace Corps volunteers) However, people I know are following a higher calling. That is what keeps them living beside those who are struggling to make ends meet, those who are chaffing under tyrannical laws that make no sense whatsoever.

BUT, for all the complaining there might be about the Kazakh haves and the have-nots, the standard of living being so high in the cities while Kazakh people suffer in the rural areas due to high unemployment or alcoholism, they still have their freedom.  As we saw in the movie, women were brutalized for not wearing the full garments covering all of their body. Women were not able to have an education.  They were twisted up in fear about whether their children would survive because the Muslims terrorists who ruled the area wanted them to be afraid, very afraid.  The ongoing battle was against the corrupt, government armed forces against the terrorists.  The armed forces wanted the priests to join sides with them in their brutality against the terrorists.  They would have none of it.  So, the Christians were caught in the middle wanting peace. Turns out that the French people LOVED this movie because they are all about freedom.

That brings me to another movie we watched during the 4th of July weekend.  “The Patriot” starring Mel Gibson. What is it about Mel and violence and blood?  I had to cover my eyes more than once because it was so brutal and terribly bloody.  Of course, war is all of that but Gibson took it to the next extreme level with some good principles in place. The French helped the early American settlers to gain their freedom from the British imperialists.  French are all about liberty, as are Americans!

Maybe that is what Kazakhstan needs to sort out. Who will really help them get out from under the former Communist past and to stay ahead or away from the terrorist element that would LOVE to come in to strike fear in the people.  Not to mention the other threat to the east, a very big country that is burgeoning with many young males who are a product of the “One Child” policy.  Kazakhstan is the country to watch to see how they can stay afloat in wanting peace.  That is what the eight priests in “Of Gods and Men” wanted but they were martyred for their faith.  What is Kazakhstan’s faith?  Is it in themselves and their past? Is it really Muslim? Is it materialism and a reaction against communism?  Time will tell…

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Photos from our MN Farmyard

I don’t have much to write on Kazakhstan obviously being back home on “vacation” in NW MN.  Today I should have quoted from Ron Vossler’s latest book “Wedding of Darkness” but I already gave it to my Mom for her to read.  Quick read of three riveting accounts of what happened to Ron’s relatives who were left behind in Odessa, Ukraine area.  A misnomer to call them “Germans from Russia” really because geographically his relatives were living in what is today called Ukraine, they just happened to speak German. Back then when they immigrated to Dakota, their orientation was Russia because that is what the czar in Russia expansively referred to Ukraine as, Southern Russia.  Therefore, Ron has a difficult time explaining that whatever the Ukrianians went through with the Holodomor (Terror Famine of 1932-33), his ethnic group went through it as well just because they happened to be in the way of the great Utopian ideology touted by Marxists.

This year the Ukrainians are memorializing 75 years since the “Great Sadness” where families were tragically torn apart.  Good lines in Ron Vossler’s book as he poetically weaves together pieces from interviews he did with his “Germans from Ukraine” relatives who left for the U.S. after the 1932-33 starvation period together with primary source material and what Ron read from old Dakota newspapers he translated from German. 

Ron’s life work is tied up with resurrecting what happened to his dead relatives and the mystery of silence that prevailed in his Wishek, North Dakota surroundings.  Finding out about his relatives tragic past, changed his life.  Ron wants reconciliation, as do I, in our current history books about what REALLY happened under a despotic government that went more than haywire, it went crazy against families and personal property.  All in the name of collectivization and the great Utopia.  (BTW, Utopia does NOT equal heaven, it’s true meaning is “nothingness”)  The Ukrainians and the Germans from Russia who happened to be good, hard workers and owned property were targeted first under Stalin’s purge in the late 1920s and early 1930s.  They were reduced to owning nothing and even their lives counted for nothing!!!

Currently I’m reading a book on Holiness by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, simultaneous to that I’m reading the No. #1 bestseller “The Shack” by William P. Young.  The latter was a self-published fictional book and it describes a man’s “Great Sadness” of losing his young daughter to a sadistic serial murderer.  I’m half way through and can see why it has fallen through the cracks and not published by the Christian circles or the secular ones.  Simply, it is NOT smarmy enough with sex scenes but also it is not orthodox enough in its theology for Christian publishers.

However, the main character in the Shack apparently works through his sadness and I think that Ukraine and other countries like Kazakhstan can work through their “Great Sadness” if the truth of the atrocities are brought out in the open.  Similar to a rape victim never quite healing by keeping silent, so too have history books worked against the millions of victims and their families by not exposing what communism actually did to ordinary people while the Soviet Union existed. 

Then I reflect on holiness and what Kazakhs, Latvians, Estonians, Russians, Germans from Russia, Ukrainians and a host of other nationalities had to go through under the bloody hands of Stalin.  He and his cohorts were all about materialism and accruing wealth and power.  Stalin forcibly had thugs seize what possessions had been in families for generations, but namely love, communication and trust were destroyed. 

Getting back to Ron Vossler’s short account in “Wedding of Darkness,” the village church bells were taken down from every steeple throughout Ukraine.  Also, from a local newspaper account I read of that era a western observer witnessed church bells sitting on a wharf in Odessa (port city on the Black Sea).  These bells were about to be melted down to be used for machinery and equipment.  Holiness vs. Materialism, it is a war we all wage in our hearts and I’m reminded that my MN farmyard is not my home, heaven is.

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