My quest for a good breakfast continues and muesli – kefir – blackberry bowls are winning these days. This recipe will also make your house smell like oatmeal cookies all day long. Just a little hygge for these last days of rain and cold.
4 c. oats + 1 c. nuts + 1 c. coconut + 1 tsp. vanilla + pinch of salt + 1/2 tbsp. cinnamon + 1/4 tsp. nutmeg + 1/4 tsp. cloves + 1/4 c. coconut oil + 1/4 c. maple syrup + 1 c. dried fruit
@ 300 on baking tray until golden (30 minutes).
When I chose this title I expected the demure memoir of wartime service, perhaps written by an old lady in pink and white, smelling of peppermints. A few pages in, I realized that couldn’t have been further from the truth.
Vera Brittain was a teenager when The Great War broke out, interrupting her first year at Oxford, a budding romance and idealism born of her Victorian upbringing. She soon left university and began nursing, a career that took her to London, Malta and eventually frontline duty in France.
This memoir details war time tragedy (her fiancé and brother were both killed in action) and more broadly, her growth from girl to self-possessed, independent woman. Her descriptions of wartime exhaustion are vivid and sobering. She doesn’t mince words to spare feelings, especially when it comes to her criticism of the powers that be – either God or government.
Brittain’s voice is tough and opinionated. With nothing good to say about her upbringing, she comes back again and again to how innocent and vulnerable her generation were to a ‘patriotic’ war, where heroic glory seemed a fair trade for sacrificed youth. Her story is undergirded with a tireless appeal for feminism, career, productivity, progress and peace – heartbreaking to think about in context of WWII, already on the horizon as she wrote.
She is not the women I imagined publishing a book in 1933 and this is not a simple little memoir. I read the last page feeling as if I’d known a whole and flawed person, however, something that doubtlessly took courage and care to write. For that, if nothing else, Vera Brittain has my respect.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”
A novel indeed! This book is Tess of the d’Urbervilles on Canadian soil. The slow grinding, frustrating, pain in the butt (but you can’t stop reading) – novel a la mode. The story line that you can’t quite recall, but boy do you remember the gorgeous, haunting atmosphere!
Published in 1925, it’s the story of a Swedish immigrant Niels, on the fertile prairies. Frustrated in his love of choice, he innocently and rashly chooses the local “fancy lady” instead. As his farm prospers and grows, his personal life deteriorates at an alarming speed.
What strikes me the most when I think back on this book is the deep silence that it’s wrapped in. Niels himself is a man of few words, hopelessly confused by the waters of personal relationships. His first love stands aloof like the original ice maiden. His defunct marriage becomes literally, a quiet contest. And over it all is the wild, rolling, empty sloughs of the Canadian west.
I mentioned before that it’s the atmosphere, not the plot that recommends this book. I know that seems like a literary risk to take, and I suppose it is. It’s one worth reading however and I’m glad I did.
When I was young, I thought biographies were the lowest of book life forms. I was also convinced that anyone saying otherwise, could only be pretending.
Knowing what I know now, however, I think that it was only the kind of biographies I encountered as a child. They were facts, birth and death, with only a hat tip to the legacy of each individual.
Martin Luther is different. It brings new perspective and historical context to the worn out facts of the Reformer’s life. Metaxas explains the importance of certain decisions Luther made, the why’s behind each battle chosen, and even offers greater understanding into subjects we might scratch our head about – “why did Luther care so much about this?”
This biography also does an excellent job of humanizing Luther. Far from a dry historical figure, we can glimpse into his lively private life and family affairs. In fact, one of my favourite quotes comes from Luther’s reflections on the death of his daughter. He writes:
“The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. I love her very much…in the last thousand years God has given to no bishop such great gifts as God has given me (for one should boast of God’s gifts). I am angry with myself that I am unable to rejoice from my heart and be thankful to God, though I do at times sing a little song and give thanks. Whether we live or die, we belong to God.”
My only gripe is that Metaxas seemed too reluctant to criticize Martin Luther. This was especially surprising in chapters on the later years, when Luther could well be critiqued for certain statements, regardless of the time and place. If Luther is real enough to empathize with, than he is real enough to have flaws!
All this aside, Martin Luther is the type of biography that is turning me into a lover of the genre these days.
My Mom and Dad would be proud of me.
We have our marching orders for Monday. The whatmusts and wherefores.
We know what we ought to do, but when our feet hit the bedroom floor and our hearts are already muddled up, what can we say into the morning? How do we preach Sunday to the devilish doubts before lunch?
This. This song that we sing in the face of our sinful hearts.
“When Satan tempts me to despair
and tells me of the guilt within”
upward I look and see Him there
who made an end to all my sin
because the sinless Savior died
my sinful soul is counted free
for God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me”
And praise God that this anthem is ours.