Tuesday, October 20, 2009

“Ceremony of Innocence,” by James Forman

About the Author:
Finding any kind of information on James Forman is virtually impossible, however I did stumble upon a short list of books that he authored. Other than “Ceremony of Innocence,” Forman wrote “Code Name Valkyrie,” which is a fictional dramatization on Count von Stauffenberg’s July 20th assassination attempt on Hitler. Then there is “My Enemy, My Brother,” a story of a young Jewish man who survives the holocaust only to face opposition when he makes a new life Israel. All three books, including “Ceremony of Innocence” are geared toward the young adult audience.

Book Synopsis:“Ceremony of Innocence” is a fictional account of the life and last days of Hans Scholl, one of the members in the resistance group The White Rose, in the darkened world of the Third Reich. The first chapter opens with the arrest of Hans and his younger sister Sophie following the distribution of the sixth leaflet at the University of Munich. They are immediately taken into Gestapo custody and for four days, Hans is interrogated and on the fifth day, he along with his sister and Christoph Probst, they are executed. Flashbacks are interweaved throughout the story, revealing Hans’ transition from a Hitler supporter into an opponent of Hitler and the development of The White Rose.

My Thoughts:
As a White Rose enthusiast, I was surprised that a bio-fic on Hans Scholl existed. With Sophie being the only female in the core group, the majority of the spotlight is on her, so its refreshing to read something from Hans’ POV. With that being said, I was a little disappointed with “Ceremony of Innocence.” The book was written in the 1970’s prior to most of the biographies written on the Scholl siblings and the White Rose group and it does not include the newly released and detailed interrogation minutes. Therefore the interrogation of Hans in this book is fictional. Also, I found the portrayal of Hans wanting; from what I’ve read about him, he appears confident and strong. In “Ceremony of Innocence” he comes across weak and unimpressive. Sophie is out of character too. Instead of the strong, intelligent and playful young woman who comes alive on screen in “Sophie Scholl: The Final Days,” this Sophie is flirtatious and silly, and she plays the martyr willingly and almost looks forward to death. This contradicts the attitude of the real Sophie Scholl who loved and embraced life. Profanity is sprinkled through out the dialogue, nothing too offensive and nothing you won’t hear in a PG movie.
God is esteemed and not just a belief but a fact, especially with Sophie, the devout Christian of the novel. In this story Hans is having a crisis of faith. However, according to the sources I have read, Hans did not fall away from Christ. In fact one account claimed that he accepted Catholic baptism and converted to Catholicism before the execution.

I don’t regret reading “Ceremony of Innocence” but the reader must keep in mind that it is dated and that this book is fiction loosely based on fact.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Lousia May Alcott's Story on PBS

That's right, Lousia May Alcott's story finally comes to the big screen, or at least to the TV screen. It is part of the Americans Masters series on PBS. No folks, this is not another version of "Little Women". This is a docu-drama on the author and her family. It is based on the book "Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women" by Harriet Reisen, which is debuting this October 27. However, Alcott's much devoted fans must wait two more months until December 28 at 9pm until the movie premieres on PBS.

Below is the list of castmembers.

Elizabeth Marvel ... Louisa May Alcott
Daniel Gerroll ... Bronson Alcott
Emily Sarah Stikeman ... Lousia May Alcott
Jane Alexander ... Ednah Cheney
Dossy Peabody ... Abigail Alcott
Molly Schreiber ... Teen Louisa
Haley Garvin ... Toddler Louisa
Marianna Bassham ... May Alcott
Maggie Quigley ... Child May Alcott
Linda Amendola ... Anna Alcott
Ellen Adair ... Teen Anna Alcott
Anna Finklestein ... Teen Beth Alcott
Eleanor Farris ... 'Lulu' May Alcott Nierecker
Ken Cheeseman ... Ralph Waldo Emerson
Beno Chapman ... Henry David Thoreau

And the official site for the book and movie is right here:

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Cliques within the Church

I’ve attended church most my life, on my own volition. For me, church is often a place that I consider my home away from home, and a place where I can learn about and freely worship God, and have some fellowship with other believers. Unfortunately, most of the churches that I have attended have also had cliques too. You wouldn’t think that’d be the case in God’s house, where people are supposedly equals and should be treated as such. After all, when you think of cliques, high school comes to mind along with the movies “Mean Girls” and “Never Been Kissed.” Church cliques usually aren’t as nasty but they certainly exist.
Instead of being called a “loser” or openly laughed at, getting the cold shoulder at church is a little more subtle. Sometimes it’s a group of women in a discussion and then just as you come along, the ladies fall silent. Other times it’s the same group at an event that you have also been invited to, but you’re made to feel out of place while you’re with them. Or perhaps it’s during a church dinner and you always end up eating at the same table instead of feeling encouraged enough to eat at a different one.
This irks me more than I let on. For crying out loud, church is not high school and people should not be broken up into groups where they feel safe and accepted. God’s house is open to all and He doesn’t play favorites, so why do some Christians?
There was a time in my life when I did belong to a church and yes, it had a clique too. But the majority of that church family was just that- a family. That church became my home away from home and a place of refuge in hard times. The people there weren’t just church members or fellow Christians, they became my family and I’m still in contact with most of them even though that church has long since closed. I have never felt God’s presence more than I did there and I’ll always reflect on that period of my life as one of my highest points, spiritually speaking.
Its too bad that many Christians don’t follow Christ’s example and love and treat everyone the same. Then perhaps non-believers would be more apt to try out church if that were the case.