Hope and Joy of Easter

It is Easter morning 2017. Most of my neighborhood is still asleep and the sky is just starting to brighten over the mountains. Easter is such a special day.

When God, our Father, sent us to this earth he gave us agency to choose how we would live. Many of us choose love and caring for those around us. Many choose hate and war against those who are different. Many choose to build good families while others choose sexual behaviors that tear at or eliminate the foundation of a family. All of us unintentionally harm others and suffer the purposeful or unintended consequences of the acts of others.

Into a world filled with the pain caused by people’s choices was born Jesus Christ, the Son of God the Father and Mary of Nazareth. Because of his special role as the Son of God he could choose not to die. But he did choose to die so that we might live again. He committed no sin himself, but chose to pay the consequences of the choices of all of us, his brothers and sisters.

Because of his sacrifice we may live again. Because of his sacrifice we may overcome the consequences of our mistakes and those of others. It is now our choice whether we will follow him and avail ourselves of what he has to offer. This is the hope of Easter. This is the hope of Christ. This is my hope on this quiet morning. I choose to follow him as best I can.

Washington

Author: Douglass Freeman

Personal Rating: 5/5

Washington is the fundamental figure of the Revolution. Revolutions are plagued by their leaders converting their prestige into dictatorship. The institutions that we have in the United States exist because of Washington. He was continually mistreated by Congress during the Revolution yet he consistently respected and supported their authority. Cromwell did not do as well. He was harshly vilified by Jefferson’s publicity machine yet refused to curb the press or attack is opponents. His army wanted to make him king but he refused. His power and integrity allowed our country to escape the consequences of so many revolutions.

John Adams

Author: David McCullough

Personal Rating: 4/5

John Adams was a patriot that sacrificed his life for the cause of founding the United States. He sacrificed it not in dying for it but by working for it for decades. He was honestly a flawed human being with problems with anger and self importance. However, his effort and hard work cannot be denied. He was the loser in the political battles with Jefferson but still an important figure. A great read.

Alexander Hamilton

Author: Ron Chernow

Personal Rating: 5/5

I have always been a fan of Thomas Jefferson. However, I was concerned about Jefferson’s treatment of Washington and his non-involvement in most of the Revolution. Hamilton is always portrayed as the “royalist” defeated by the “populist” Jefferson.

Chernow’s book sheds a lot of good light on this subject. He clearly points out that Hamilton, the “royalist”, was the one who worked his way up from nothing to eventually establish the economic basis of our country’s treasury and never owned a slave. Jefferson, the “populist”, inherited wealth that he ran into debt and lived off of slaves who he never freed.

Allan Quatermain

H. Rider Haggard wrote many stories, mostly about Africa. The Allan Quatermain stories are the ones I enjoy the most. They are pure escape adventures in east Africa. I like older novels because there is none of the gratuitous sex and graphic violence in modern novels.

The one downside of his work is the obvious view of other ethnicities as being second class. Blacks and Arabs are fundamentally assumed to be wicked and/of lazy and unteachable. It is interesting, however, that despite this second class view the protagonist repeatedly finds respect and capability in those same people. Haggard is almost mocking the prejudices of his day by repeatedly having his hero surprised by unexpected qualities and abilities in black people. It feels a little bit like Mark Twain. “They” are not supposed to be as good as experience regularly shows us “they” are.

“Hawaiian Cardinal”

A “Hawaiian Cardinal” that we saw on Oahu. It really is a Brazilian Taneger that came to Hawaii quite some time ago. We found him in the parking lot outside of a Kentucky Fried Chicken. My wife took the picture and I painted him in our granddaughter Tansy’s hospital room. She like to watch me paint when she was too sick to do anything else.

David Copperfield

Author: Charles Dickens

Personal Rating 5/5

“Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show”

Thus begins my favorite Dickens book. I cannot really tell you why I like it so much. Maybe it is relating to little Davy, though my own life is very much unlike his. I think it is the underlying theme of the shear goodness found in otherwise ordinary, quirky people. I just feel good living in David’s world, even through his trials and dark days. All those great characters: Agnes, Uriah Heep, Steerforth, Dora, the Peggottys, Traddles and Aunt Betsy.

Cry the Beloved Country

Author: Alan Paton

Personal Rating 4.5/5

A good, black man living in South Africa tries to deal the the pressures of poverty and race. He works so hard to save his son from the death penalty but in the end is unsuccessful.

In many ways this the a companion book for To Kill a Mockingbird. Like Harper Lee’s book, this is not an angry or protesting book. It is the sharing of the sorrows of people trying to live good lives against a background of unthinking, casual bigotry.

To Kill a Mockingbird

Author: Harper Lee

Personal Rating: 5/5

This is one of my personal all time favorite books. I grew up in the 1960’s and I remember the unrest at the time. I remember when blacks had separate drinking fountains and I remember when Martin Luther King was killed. These things did not happen in my little part of Central California, but they were on the news.

What I love about this book is that it reaches into the heart of a very difficult time of race relations. This is not an angry book. It is not a shouted protest. It is the view of a child watching a very good man try to do a very good thing and in the end he both lost and won. It shares a tone and theme with Alan Paton’s Cry the Beloved Country.

I have read this many times and enjoy it every time. The movie with Gregory Peck is equally powerful. In my mind he is always Atticus Finch.