Just thought I’d tackle some light subjects today!
My children and I have been having an ongoing discussion about “bad guys” and sin, which started around Easter with questions about Judas. I had mentioned to them something a priest friend of ours has said, that if Judas had repented perhaps he would have become the first pope. Surely he could have become a great saint. This startled them, as they have been used to thinking of Judas as the quintessential bad guy.
Then there’s the book we’ve been listening to in the car lately: Martin the Warrior, #6 in the Redwall Abbey series.
In this book, one of the good guys, Felldoh the Squirrel, struggles throughout the story with his desire to enact revenge upon Badrang the cruel stoat who enslaved him and his family during his childhood. Indeed the entire aim of all the good guys is to end Badrang’s reign, but Felldoh wants more than that: he wants to make Badrang pay for destroying his family. When confronted by his friends, who can see his potential to become a noble warrior, Felldoh blames his bloodthirst on his miserable childhood and says he would be a nicer person if only he’d grown up in peace and prosperity.
In the final battle of the story, Felldoh confronts his former abuser. He has a chance to kill him and end the battle and bloodshed. Instead, Felldoh grabs Badrang and begins torturing him, trying to make Badrang know what he felt when Badrang beat him as a child. It’s a very disturbing scene, and in the end, Badrang escapes and Felldoh is killed. Eventually, the rest of the good guys defeat Badrang, but only after a lot more fighting and the death of many more good guys.
The kids and I talked about this one for awhile. They had trouble understanding–wasn’t Felldoh a good guy? Yes, but… While I do not like when children’s novels or films make the hero do something really bad, I thought it worked well here to show a secondary character make a terrible choice. Between Judas and Felldoh, I think the kids got it that sin can start with good people giving in to understandable feelings and sometimes ends in terrible, irrevocable tragedy. Heavy stuff, but they handled it well–they thought about it for a few moments, and then jumped up and went back to playing swordfight in the backyard.
And speaking of heroes, betrayal, and warfare, the book I finished this week was called The Global War on Christians: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Anti-Christian Persecution. The author, John L. Allen, Jr. is probably the most respected Catholic journalist in America, and one of the best in the world. He is unique in that his reports carry weight with conservative and liberal Christians as well as the secular world.
Last year I read his book about Opus Dei, which impressed me with its objectivity, as most writing about the Catholic group Opus Dei tends to be full of either adulation or conspiracy theories. So I was interested when I heard about this new one on contemporary persecution of Christians.
Allen shows throughout the book that Christians are by far the most persecuted people group on the planet today (about 80% of all people being persecuted). Through story after gut-wrenching story, Allen gives names and faces to the millions of victims of anti-Christian persecution around the world. Honestly, many of the stories were too overwhelming to read in entirety.
Consider the ongoing crisis in Nigeria, with Boko Haram’s kidnapping of hundreds of Christian girls last month. This is the kind of thing happening in various ways all over the world, and Allen’s book details it all, along with many ideas for ways Christians fortunate enough to live in the handful of places in the world where it is not dangerous to follow Christ can help.
One of the ways Allen suggested helping is very simple. Many organized groups of persecuted Christians have Facebook pages. Liking and following their pages boosts their moral support. Check out this page for Coptic Christians, and you’ll see they are talking about Muslim extremists kidnapping Christian girls in Egypt too.
I would recommend this book to every American Christian. Even if you can’t read every single instance of anti-Christian persecution documented, the book will inspire you to pray and take whatever action you can to support the worldwide Church.
Check out Housewifespice for more!