Friday, March 23, 2012

Practice What You Preach!

"Practice what you preach!" I reminded myself as another bead of perspiration trickled down my brow. As soon as I finished my post, "I Believe," I armed myself with a scoop shovel and joined a mountain moving crew.

Our mountain was a mountain of soybeans, and scoop by scoop--and with some much appreciated help from gravity--we moved the beans out of the grain bin into the auger which loaded them into a semi-truck trailer. 2 truck loads (2000 bushels) was our goal for the day. Finally we finished the truckloads and took a much needed rest and headed over to Eldora to listen to Sugar and Spice. The next morning, we got back to mountain moving and emptied the grain bin (another truckload and a half). But, that was not the end. We had another mountain to move! This time it was a much smaller mountain of corn, and we did have a fun time. After moving soybeans, corn is a breeze. After 2 days of mountain moving, a person realizes nothing is too hard--and that writing in particular is easy compared to shoveling--so I finally finished an essay that I had procrastinated finishing for 2 months.

James 2 says, "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful for the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works..."

How would it work if I and the rest of the mountain moving crew just said, "Why should I get out there and work? I have faith that that mountain of soybeans will be moved," and then started lounging around on the sofa eating potato chips and watching TV? Do you think our faith would be rewarded? Would we look out the window and see the grain bin emptied and the truck filled with grain? Not likely. Faith without works is dead. On the other hand, do you think we would get very far with only works and no faith? No! As I mentioned in "I Believe," we would never get started in the first place if we didn't believe it could be done and that God would give us enough strength to do it. Pray and do! Do your best and trust God with the rest!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Book Review: Our Wonderland of Bureaucracy

Our Wonderland of Bureaucracy, published in 1932, was written by former Congressman and Solicitor General of the United States, James M. Beck. The book is heavy reading, complete with statistics and tables, but occasionally lightened up with humor, keen observations, and examples.

Beck’s observations are striking because they were written before the New Deal, before Social Security, before Medicare, Medicaid, government health care, and before a 15 trillion dollar national debt.


“Bureaucracy within bounds…is essential to any form of government,” Beck says. But the general welfare clause is the Achilles’ heel of the Constitution. The power of appropriation is sinking our ship, he claims. Federal bureaus are immortal and fecund. Imagine: “The Federal Government appropriated in 1800 approximately $11 million or roughly $2 per person for the expenses of the government; in 1850, the appropriations were approximately $45 million, or about $1.93 per person; and in 1930, the appropriations were $4,710,377,376, which approximated $38.42 for every man, woman, and child, according to the 1930 census return.” “Government is something to live under, and not to live on.” If our author could see current numbers, he would roll over in his grave.


The author’s best illustration is about the grave; and since otherwise it may not again see the light of day, I will reproduce his brilliant example here:




The one hundred and fifty bureaus now existing almost cover the life of man from his cradle to the grave. Happily the final exit of the citizen from this mortal life gives the author his illustration for--as far as we know--there is as yet no morticians’ bureau in any Federal department. How this escaped the attention of the Bureaucracy is a mystery. It seems so obvious that if the Federal government must supervise the manner of birth, the conduct of life and the maintenance of health, it should also give its paternal care to the final exit of the over-governed citizen…


The bureau will begin its mortuary activities in this fashion: Some ambitious, but none too busy mortician, will feel that his ancient and honorable profession has been neglected. Perhaps he will have aided some Congressman or Senator in the final rites of a relative and gained his good will by his professional sympathy. He will suggest to the Congressman or Senator the inexcusable omission of the Federal Government to guide the citizen in his final exit to the grave. The Congressman--possibly a member of the all powerful Committee on Appropriations--will insert a modest item in the next Deficiency Bill for an appropriation of $25,000 to study the subject of sanitary internments. While the ordinary rule of the Government is to appoint to the head of each department and bureau some one, who knows little or nothing of its work, yet gratitude for the opportunity to create a new bureau will secure for the mortician the appointment. The bureau begins by the mortician--now called the United States Chief Mortician--appointing a first and second assistant Chief Morticians and a secretary for each of these exalted functionaries, and at least three stenographers and a messenger.



The problem now is to justify the creation of the Bureau. This requires considerable ingenuity. A scientist is selected to study the process of putrefacation and a half dozen historians are dispatched to foreign lands to make a study of Egyptian embalming, the Etruscan methods of burial and the Roman methods of cremation. The possibility of such mortuary inquiries gradually widens and soon a series of monographs are issued by the Public Printer, and find their grave in the office of the Superintendent of Documents. Then a scientist is employed to study the kinds of wood that may be used in the construction of coffins, and the best stone for use in cemeteries.


Fearful that the States are incompetent to control the methods of burial, the Bureau, now costing $200,000 a year, procures federal aid subsidies, whereby each State receives a grant of money, if it will match it in amount, and subjects its domestic laws to the Federal Mortuary Bureau.


Then the Chief Mortician--swollen with the pride of office--employs the radio for a twenty-minute nation-wide broadcast, in which after some orchestral music and a song…the Chief Mortician in the dulcet tones of the best “Bed Time Story Teller” implores the people of the United States to enlist in the great crusade, whose slogan is:


“More and better funerals,”
“If eventually, why not now?”



Beck goes on to mention various bureaus which disseminate useless information and cost the American taxpayers very much. He recommended that the tax burden be distributed more evenly, to make Americans “tax-conscious.” “Less than 400,000 citizens paid in 1928, 97% of the federal income tax. Why should the remaining 120,000,000 care?” he asks. Unless we stop increasing our expenditures, Beck warned, we will increasingly become socialistic.

We need to stand for our principles. “The founders of this Republic,” he says, “waged a 7-year war in protest against a two penny tax on a pound of tea, because it involved a principle. The Americans of this generation are apathetic when literally billions of dollars are taken from the public treasury for the benefit of special classes or sections, because they have either lost appreciation of the principle involved or are too indolent to fight for these principles.”


Congress, he says, should be the guardians of the public money and keep appropriations and taxes to a minimum. But, they seem to find “too many new ways to spend money and not enough ways to get it.” Beck harshly criticized government interference in business and undue regulation. He castigates the states for selling “their birthright for a mess of pottage…[The federal government] bribes the States by federal subsidies to acquiesce in greater federal powers and the consequent surrender by the States of their reserved power.”


The author agrees with William Penn that “Governments, like clocks, go from the motion men give them, and, as governments are moved by men, so by men they are ruined too. Therefore governments rather depend upon men, than men upon governments.” He also agrees with Franklin, who said, “There is no form of government but may be a blessing to the people if well administered for a course of years, and can only end in despotism…when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other.” According to the author, the only remedy is an ever-vigilant people. We must preserve society--that “noble compact between the dead, the living, and the unborn” (Edmund Burke);--but, as Beck sadly reports, “We live in the day, forgetful of yesterday, and altogether indifferent to the morrow. If any proposal is made that seems to offer a present advantage, the people enthusiastically support it, without considering its possible conflict with all the collective wisdom of the past, and its inevitable effect upon the future.”


James Beck expressed pessimism as to the future of liberty in our country, concluding that if “Each generation of Americans, to gain some immediate and practical advantage, will sacrifice some remaining principle of the Constitution…that noble edifice will one day become as the Parthenon, beautiful in it ruins, but nevertheless a useless and deserted temple of Liberty.”


I’m glad I unearthed this old book of timeless observations. If only the voice of the author, crying in the wilderness 80 years ago, had been heeded!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Individual Liberty


Individual liberty was treasured more than life by the Founding Fathers. Benjamin Franklin warned that “those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” The founders knew that liberty could not be secured without law; they also amply realized the dangers of government oppression. That is why they established the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It is essential that we diligently preserve this inheritance of liberty for which the Founders pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor.


The Constitution institutes trial by jury and habeas corpus, and forbids the passage of bills of attainder or ex-post-facto laws. Some of the founders, including Alexander Hamilton, objected to the addition of a bill of rights, claiming the addition unnecessary since no power was given by which restrictions could be imposed. Thomas Jefferson disagreed, “A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular; and what no just government should refuse or rest on inference…I hope, therefore, a bill of rights will be formed, to guard the people against the federal government.” The Bill of Rights was added, protecting freedom of religion, speech, the press, peaceable assembly, and the right to keep and bear arms and to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures. The Founders were certain that “the natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground” (Jefferson), so they etched the provisions of liberty in stone and warned their children to “guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches this jewel” (Patrick Henry).


Accountability to no one but God in matters of conscience (freedom of religion), willingness to take risks and bear responsibility for the results, self-reliance (using the right to keep and bear arms for hunting and self-defense), readiness to back ones own convictions against a majority (utilizing freedom of speech and the press), and willingness to cooperate with ones neighbors in peaceable assemblage are the workings which exercise a person’s moral sense of responsibility. Should our minds wax dull through lack of exercising our freedoms, we could not be expected to choose our leaders responsibly.


Jefferson gave three provisions for the preservation of liberty. First, “Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. Enable them to see that it is their interest to preserve peace and order, and they will preserve them…[The people] are the only sure reliance for the preservation of liberty.” Today, I must educate myself in the tradition of liberty by studying the works of Founding Fathers and books such as Democracy in America (Tocqueville) and The Law (Frederic Bastiat). I can share my love for liberty in essays, letters to editors, Facebook posts, emails, internet forums, and conversations in the living room, at youth rallies, or town hall meetings. Second, Jefferson said, “[The people] are our dependence for continued freedom. And to preserve their independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt…” I will set a good example by keeping my own budget balanced. As a new voter this election, I will support candidates who will substantially reduce the national debt, that “fore-horse of misery and oppression” (as Jefferson called it). Third, "Can the liberties of a nation be sure when we remove their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people, that these liberties are a gift from God?” Jefferson asked. This conviction that liberty is an unalienable right--a gift from God--prompted Patrick Henry to cry “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” Only a moral people has the strength to sacrifice everything for liberty. I will trust in God. Finally, I will protest even the smallest infringement of liberty, for a small infringement is always the harbinger of a larger one. I will not support any legislation relieving individuals from personal responsibility; such legislation is anti-moral in effect and leads to an authoritarian government. Individuals tolerate difficulties if they have no one to blame but themselves. But if the government is responsible for providing healthcare and fails to provide efficiently; if the government is responsible for providing education and test scores drop; if the government is responsible for regulating business, instituting a minimum wage, and guaranteeing jobs and the people face chronic unemployment; if the government is responsible for stabilizing the economy and the economy is in the gutter, the people have no one to blame but the government. If the government fails, there will be discontent, protests, and perhaps revolution. The government will then be forced to marginalize individual liberties and will be rendered incapable of performing its basic duty, preserving justice.


"Posterity,” wrote John Adams, “you will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in heaven that ever I took half the pains to preserve it." Individual responsibility may sometimes be painful, but freedom is not available without it. In the words of Tocqueville: “What good does it do me, after all, if an ever-watchful authority keeps an eye out to ensure that my pleasures will be tranquil and races ahead of me to ward off all danger, sparing me the need even to think about such things, if that authority, even as it removes the smallest thorns from my path, is also absolute master of my liberty and my life; if it monopolizes vitality and existence to such a degree that when it languishes, everything must also sleep; and when it dies, everything must also perish.” We have no other choice, it’s liberty or death. Young people, Americans, let’s make good use of liberty. Let’s preserve liberty. Let’s make the Founding Fathers proud.



Many thanks to the Bill of Rights Institute for the great topic this year, and for permission to post my essay for the Being an American Essay Contest here!

Monday, March 12, 2012

I Believe…




“I believe” is one of the most powerful phrases spoken. Nothing great has ever been done without these two words, “I believe.” Without faith, nothing would ever be done.

If I did not believe someone would read this post, I would not have written it.
If Christopher Columbus did not believe the world is round, he never would have discovered America.
If the Founding Fathers did not believe they could create a strong nation, they would never have written the Constitution.
If Edison did not believe he could invent incandescent light, he would never have tried.
If Henry Ford did not believe he could build a horse-less carriage, he wouldn’t have started Ford motor company.
If Ray Tomlinson did not believe there was a faster way to send messages, he wouldn’t have invented email in 1971.
If Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau had not believed they could do something, they would never have created the world wide web in 1990.
If you did not believe you could do something useful today, you’d still be sleeping.

And we’d all be back in the Old World, walking in the light of our campfires, using snail mail, and lugging around huge encyclopedias…oops, well, not quite--If Johannes Gutenberg had not believed he could invent movable type, we wouldn’t have our encyclopedias. Without faith, it would be impossible to do anything.

Most importantly, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). The most important act of faith was committed 2000 years ago. Jesus gave His life, believing that He would rise again, believing He would receive the keys of death and hell, and that by His death and resurrection we could and we would be saved. If you believe, you will see the glory of God, just like Martha did in John 11. If you do not believe that God will answer your prayers when you diligently seek Him, you displease God.

If we want to be successful in this life and in the next, if we want to please God, we must have faith. We must believe!

If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” --Matthew 17:20


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Of Chainsaws, Chickens, and Cucumbers



Cheery Chainsaws

Early in the morning, we headed out for our neighbor's place to cut firewood. After a jolting ride over the frosty, plowed fields in our old Ford Ranger (I'm thinking we should bring a jar of cream with us each time we drive across that field--by the time we get back to the road, it might be shaken into butter), we saw the trees. Papa cut away with a large chainsaw. I saw another chainsaw, and should have left it at that...but how do these things work? Papa started it for me and said to go ahead and cut off the little branches and twigs growing out of the log. I reached down to cut my 1st branch. The chainsaw stopped

"Papa!?!"

"You need to give it gas, Bethany."

"Oh! ok!"

Only one mistake and I had the hang of it! Amazing! I make sure the gas is on, and I work down the log, sawing off the little branches. Half way through, my nerves are a wreck: all that vibration basically put my hands to sleep on a bed of thorns! I painfully finished off that log, and the chainsaw stopped again. Now I know one thing: I'm not cut out to be a lumberjack. So, I started throwing logs over the fence, loading them into the truck, and moving brush to the brush pile. Then we had another exciting ride home, and I helped unload: the funnest part! Mama left my sister and I to cook dinner.

Cucumbers

By now, I've eaten so many cucumbers that I should be a genius at cooking. Several years ago, we decided to grow some pickles, and yes, we grew pickles. Our few plants produced so many cucumbers that we haven't planted cucumbers since and still we have jars full of pickles. Nonetheless, the kitchen is not the safest place for me. Meet "Disaster Lunch," the great combo of all my unforgettable dishes throughout the years. Dessert is first, and you have your choice of homemade apple pie--a bit tart perhaps, I soaked the apples in lemon juice instead of tossing them in it--, sweet potato pie (always delicious except for the time I made it for friends who had just come from half way across the continent--I forgot 1 ingredient then: sugar), and Vinegar Pie (This is truly delicious, though I still haven't figured out why, when I had two pies and gave one to friends, my sister recommended I give them both).


Vinegar Pie

1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked

1/4 cup flour

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

3 egg yolks

1/8 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. unsalted butter

1/4 tsp. lemon extract

3 tbsp. distilled white vinegar

3 egg whites

6 tbsp. sugar


1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).


2. Mix the flour with 1/2 cup sugar. Add the water gradually and cook on top of a double boiler for 15 minutes, stirring constantly, or until thickened.


3. Combine the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar with the yolks and salt and mix will with a whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Add the hot flour mixture to the yolk mixture gradually, mixing all the time. Return to the double boiler and cook for about 3 minutes more or until the mixture is thick and smooth.


4. Add the butter, extract, and vinegar. Mix well and remove from heat.


5. Beat the egg whites until foamy and gradually add the 6 tbsp. sugar. Beat until a stiff, glossy peak is achieved.


6. Pour the custard filling into the shell (custard should be hot). Top with meringue and seal to edges of the crust. Place into the oven and bake about 15 minutes.

After eating a tart apple pie and sugar-free sweet potato pie, you might like to try some coleslaw--the only problem is that I added the cabbage, raisins, carrots, and powdered sugar, mixed it together, and it still didn't look right. So I added a bit more powdered sugar and mixed it in--still not right! I ended up adding several cups of sugar before I finally realized what I was forgetting: mayonnaise! Now if we could only mix the sweet potato and apple pies with the coleslaw, we might really have something good!



Tough Chickens



Prize (at 3 years old)


"Ruff, ruff, ruff," Ginger, our dog, said as she raced toward the chicken coop. The door to Prize's private room had been carelessly left open, so I suspected a cock fight was going on: no good! I followed Ginger to the chicken coop, and imagine my surprise and dismay! Poor old Prize was helplessly hanging by his spurs (now grown much too long for comfort) from the chicken wire fence, while a fiendish young rooster tried to peck him to death. Now, that is not how life is supposed to be in our peaceful Chicken Retirement Community! The youngest bird is just short of 3 years old; and at 9 years the grand old rooster is no spring chicken. If chickens pray, I'm sure Prize was praying for help (the Bible does say God watches over the sparrow)--and I'm sure he is grateful for his barking guardian angel with 4 feet and a tail. I quickly scared away the young cock with, "You wicked rooster!" and took a hold of Prize who was hanging from the fence. I expected him to be fidgety and uncooperative, but he was cool as a cucumber; I tried to free him, but still it was no easy task. Finally, I settled his head on my knees and carefully pried one leg free. The next leg came off the fence more easily. I carried him into his room, and held him as he recovered, breathing heavily. While he recovered, I reminisced of the good old days when I used to hold our chickens all the time and write poems about Prize. Then I went into the other room to grab some corn, and fed him by hand. Just then I noticed something tiny crawling up my arm, then something else, and another and another. Ahh!!! --There's a reason I don't hug my chickens any oftener than I have to!-- I killed the bugs and got out of there fast!

Oh, and by the way, if per chance, any of you are hungry for a chicken dinner; I have just the young rooster for you! ...but on second thought maybe not. You might need to bring a chainsaw into the kitchen to cut the tough chicken up for dinner, and I'm sure the rooster would be cruel even on the dinner table--cruel to the omnivore's teeth and a bite less than a gastronomic delight.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Book Review: The Night Will End-- Part 3



Frenay found a new secretary, Simone Gouyou, to help him and Berty at their office. This office is our “inner sanctum,” he told her as they walked into the office, “If one day the situation becomes desperate, if everything blows up in our faces, that’s where we’ll still be safe.” The phone rang. “Monsieur ‘Francan’ (Henri’s pseudonym), please.”

“Speaking. Who’s this?”

“A friend. I’m calling to tell you that Monsieur --- will visit tomorrow morning. He didn’t say what time, but he’s a morning person. Do you get my message? I repeat: Monsieur ---, tomorrow morning.”

Monsieur --- was the chief of police. Some anonymous friend was warning of a police raid the next day at their “safe” hideout where every imaginable proof of their activity was in full sight--including complex time-lapse detonators! They quickly evacuated the office, removing all the evidence. Sure enough, the police raided the abandoned office in the morning, and Frenay was ever thankful for the warning of the mysterious caller.

Lesson 3: When circumstances are beyond our control, we need help from an Unseen Hand; we can depend on God to give us a “mysterious caller.”

To throw the police off their trail, they changed their aliases, paper stock, and newspaper title. The newspaper’s new name was to be Vérités (Truths). A statement made by Marshal Petain himself served as the motto/subtitle: “I hate the lies that have done us so much harm.”

Then Frenay met Jean Moulin who served as the contact between the French Resistance movements and London. Frenay says, “I liked the expression in his eyes, and my experience told me that a man’s look hardly ever plays false. Sure enough, later, Moulin, captured by the Gestapo was slowly and sadistically tortured to death by Karl Barbie; but he, who knew so much, never uttered a single word about the Resistance.

Not everyone caught by the Gestapo could take the same fate: Moulin’s replacement, Bingen, committed suicide and avoided Moulin’s fate by swallowing a cyanide pill as soon as the Gestapo captured him: he died in 2 minutes. Others, such as Frenay’s worker Multon, “sang” as soon as the Gestapo captured them. Multon even agreed to work for the Gestapo to avoid torture--with the secret hope of escaping. But the Gestapo tailed him everywhere, and he ended up betraying 1, 2, and then 10 comrades! He couldn’t stop because the Gestapo held his family as hostages, so, as he later confessed: “I just went on and on. Oh, I was a coward.” After the war, unable to stand being an outcast anymore, his face swollen with tears, he turned himself in and was brought to trial and condemned to death. One of those whom Multon betrayed was Berty Albrecht. The first time she had been captured, the police had released her because they wanted her to deliver a message to Frenay. The second time, she was tortured and then faked insanity so she could be sent to an insane asylum. Frenay, her daughter, and other friends easily broke her out of the asylum. After Multon betrayed her, the Gestapo tortured her until she could take it no longer: she committed suicide.

Moral Dilemma #1: Being caught by the Gestapo created plenty of dilemmas. Obviously, if one can lie and deceive the Gestapo and escape from their clutches as Berty did the second time she was arrested when she feigned insanity (As King David did in front of the king of Gath when he was fleeing from King Saul); that is the best option. Also obviously, it would be wrong to “talk” or “sing” and betray your friends, even under the most severe torture. But not everyone has the strength of a Jean Moulin and can be slowly tortured to death without giving in. Torture is not a pleasant option; was it right for Bingen to swallow that cyanide pill? Or did he commit an unforgivable sin in committing suicide?

Let’s leave our musings and go back to the events before these arrests. Frenay’s group, M.L.N. merged with another underground movement--Libérte--to form Combat: the name of both their new movement and their new newspaper. Combat’s epigram was “Dans la guerre comme dans la paix le dernier mot est a ceux qui ne se rendant jamais” --Clemenceau [In war as in peace, the last word belongs to those who never give up].

Frenay’s mother, a dedicated Petainist, to whom he had told nothing, was very worried about him. Finally, he arranged a meeting with her. She told him that she knew he was up to something, and she felt it was her patriotic duty to denounce him to the police--for his own good. He told his dear old mother that it would do no good--the police had already been looking for him for a long time, and it would only irreparably breach their relationship if she denounced him. He did not see his mother again till after the Liberation. In spite of her threat, she never denounced him.

Frenay met Jacques Renouvin, “a towering, big boned, partially gray-haired man--a bon vivant out of The Three Muskateers.” He was an “experienced brawler who always hankered for a good fight.” He was also “a marvelous leader, and men of all ages followed him with passionate devotion.” Renouvin organized the Groupes Francs: direct action commandoes who blew up newsstands with pro-German propaganda, organized jail-breaks for captured Combat people whenever possible, and arranged “carnivals” where they derailed trains and once blew up 10 offices of the Labor Draft (which drafted young French men and women for work in Germany) in one hour. When Renouvin was finally captured, Frenay and other friends wept, and some of Renouvin’s loyal followers tried to rescue him. They too were arrested, and Renouvin died at the labor camp Matthausen. In honor of Renouvin, Garnier--second in command of Groupes Francs--organized 60 strikes on railways in one day. Garnier was arrested and savagely tortured as were many others.

London cut funding for Combat just when they needed it most. Miraculously, the Americans began funding Combat just as London cut their funds. But then, London became jealous, and worked to stop the Americans from “taking over.” Combat had many financial difficulties.

Combat’s ranks swelled as a result of the S.T.O. Labor Draft which required all French young men and women--and some not so young, by the end of the war the draft covered men between 16 and 55 and women between 18 and 45--to come to Germany and work in the factories. Many draft dodgers hid in the mountains, procured side arms, and would defend themselves against arrest. They were called the Maquis (French for underbrush), and some of the Combat leaders trained them so they could fight in the Liberation.

Troubled did not end. Lien (the railway man we met early in this review) told Berty that Devillers (their chief messenger) was in fact a Gestapo agent! That was in fact very true, and Frenay barely escaped a trap. After the war, Frenay was shocked to learn that Lien, a gambler by nature, was in fact a Nazi agent himself, having been “bought” by them soon after being recruited by Frenay. In spite of his loyalty in trying to protect Combat, Lien had betrayed the leader of another Resistance group, Alliance (which I will soon read about in Noah‘s Ark), and many of their members.

The survivors of Combat were now like family to Frenay. They were a very tight-knit group, and intensely loyal to each other. Berty’s social service provided sustenance for the families of those in prison and sent packages to their prisoners.

Lesson 4: Unfortunately, Micah 7:5 is very true: “Trust ye not in a friend, put not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth…” Frenay could not trust even his own mother. Trust only in Jesus--David said, “When my father and my mother forsake me, the Lord will take me up.”
Sometime before the end of the war, Frenay had to leave France to join De Gaulle and work on the relationship between London and Free France and the Underground. Frenay was awarded the Cross of Liberation and joined De Gaulle’s government as Minister of Prisoners, Deportees, and Refugees. Frenay worked to send his underground as much money as possible. Jean-Guy and many of his Combat friends were killed by the Nazis, and Frenay wanted desperately to re-join his remaining friends, but De Gaulle would not let him leave. The Communists infiltrated Combat’s ranks, and tried to smear some of Frenay’s best friends.

Then De Gaulle and the government arrived in France. O the joy! Paris was liberated. Thousands of 11th and 13th hour resisters jumped on the bandwagon: they were “blood-thirsty” cowards who just wanted to be on the winning side, and they conducted a despicable reign of terror. “The Communists wanted a Revolution. So did we, but we wanted a Revolution of Law.” Frenay’s Ministry of Prisoners, Deportees, and Refugees, set up shop in the Gestapo’s old offices. There were over 2,500,000 refugees to take care of! Many of Frenay’s friends were missing and he felt terribly alone. Frenay was a witness at many trials, and his ministry worked night and day to repatriate captives and refugees. The Communists worked full-time to smear him--every day, a deputation of Communist men would camp on the front lawn of his ministry chanting “Frenay, our clothes!” “Frenay, our discharge pay!” or “Frenay, resign!” The were trying to get him to call the police so they could make a scene. Still the repatriation centers did an amazing job. In one day, 40,000 ex-captives were processed. Eisenhower commended their work. But the Communists attacked Frenay with every imaginable--and unimaginable--misdeed. They plastered the walls of Paris with posters denouncing him. They portrayed him as a horrid aristocrat to the returning captives. In July they even organized a crowd of 20,000-25,000 ex-prisoners to march beneath his windows chanting for clothes, discharge pay, and another wholesale purge. They cried, “Frenay, resign!” and even “Frenay against the wall!” In the vanguard, he even noticed a man whom he had helped as leader of Combat! The Communist newspapers were filled with charges against him, so he took them to court for libel, saying, “Justice is my only weapon.” He won. The editor of L’Humanite was sentenced to a 15,000 franc fine; as for the preventative effect, Frenay found that this was the editor’s 27th conviction for the same offence. Leon Blum told Frenay, “Don’t you, under any pretext start using the same tactics [as the communists]. Loyalty and honesty always triumph in the end--even in politics.” Frenay ended his career in government by creating a memorial to his fallen comrades. The war was over. He wrote, “Thanks [to those who died], the night has come to an end. Tomorrow, as I well knew, was dark with foreboding, but tomorrow was the future and the future belongs to God.”

“Like everyone who has had the courage to act,” Frenay says, “I have known both success and failure, both hope and disappointment, both joy and sorrow. All in all, I have been deeply gratified by life, for my own has been varied, impassioned, and exalting. I also believe it has been useful.
“I now enter the winter of that life, and I can truthfully say that I would change nothing in it. As I lay aside this manuscript, my soul would sing a hymn of thanksgiving.”

I’m very glad I read The Night Will End. Henri Frenay’s story is intriguing, and I learned many useful lessons.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Book Review: The Night Will End-- Part 2


Back in Lyons, Frenay noticed that everyone seemed resigned, defeated. But, he recollects, “I had not assimilated defeat. I could not even understand it; it was utterly foreign to me. Somehow I had evaded defeat when I escaped from Donon. I was free, but they, my neighbors, were not. They were defeated; I was undefeated. "

Frenay wrote a manifesto of his thoughts and showed it to an old friend, Marcel Recordier. Recordier was his first recruit. Next, he met Maurice Chevance at a soldier’s club-- “I could sense he was one of us.” He had his second recruit.

His first goal was to be well informed, second to collect intelligence, third to counter Vichy’s propaganda, and fourth to organize shock troops. He realized that the organization would have to be strictly cellular for security reasons and a useful division of labor. There would be 6 man and 30 man cells. Each chief of 6 would know only his 5 subordinates and his supervisor in the larger, 30 man cell. This supervisor only knew the leaders of the five 6 man cells under his orders. Above the 30-man cells would be the clandestine administrative superstructure with cantons, arrondissements, departments, and later, regional administrations. Every rookie would start in R.O.P. (Recruitment, Organization, and Propaganda). After he passed probation, he would be put into the intelligence service or para-military cadres, or kept in R.O.P. Frenay also decided to put out a paper for the average French.

Frenay had gone back to work for the French army in Marseilles. To implement his plans, he needed money--and recruits. So, every time he’d meet people, he sounded them out; if they were sympathetic, he’d suggest they join him, find new recruits, and donate. He didn’t have to be extremely careful yet. There was no Gestapo yet in that part of France, and the Vichy police had not yet been given orders to hunt him down. A chance meeting on a train gave him a contact in Toulouse, railway man Jean-Paul Lien. Frenay also recruited chemical engineer Jean Gemahling, who would serve as chief of intelligence.

Then Henri Frenay was ordered to join the Army Intelligence of Vichy General Staff. He left the Marseilles region under Chevance, who proved to be a diligent, loyal, capable, and efficient worker. The Marseilles underground grew by leaps and bounds; Chevance eventually became military director of Combat, the large organization this small undertaking would evolve into. And in spite of several arrests, Chevance would fight until virtually the last square inch of France was liberated. Soon, an old friend, Mrs. Berty Albrecht (in her 50’s) came to visit Henri. She was worried he might have succumbed to apathy, but he hadn’t; and when he told her of his activities, she exclaimed, “I’m happy to see you’re a rebel.” Henri replied, “At least we will have taken a stand! To live in peace with one’s conscience has its price, you know; but isn’t it worth it to be able to look at oneself in the mirror?” Berty joined as his secretary, and later as administrator of Social Services for their imprisoned colleagues and their families.

Frenay’s work in Vichy Army Intelligence proved very useful in making contacts and finding information for his underground newspaper, but soon, Frenay found that his army job and underground responsibilities conflicted, so he obtained a discharge.

Lien had proved very dilatory in his Toulouse work and there was virtually no progress in that region. Fortunately, Berty had found a wonderful new recruit to work on the editorial staff of their newspaper: Jacqueline Bernard. Her brother, Jean-Guy Bernard--a pilot and air force lieutenant barely over 20--also joined, and soon had the Toulouse region working efficiently. Then he came to work closely with Frenay.


By this time the police were on Frenay’s trail. He began to take precautions, changing pseudonyms often, and using inspection-proof counterfeit identity papers. He also shifted meeting places constantly, never carried addresses (carrying addresses was a common downfall of underground groups--one member would be caught by the Gestapo, and it didn’t matter if he or she talked because there was a long list of addresses and names in his or her pocket!), and always watched to see if he was shadowed. He frequently changed his hat, overcoat, and hair style. Sometimes, he wore spectacles of every type; sometimes he wore none. He sported mustaches, once grew a beard, and sometimes shaved. Eventually he started carrying a gun. His mail was never delivered directly to his hide-outs: one of his comrades--often Jean-Guy--delivered it to him.

They found a Jesuit Father Chaillet, who agreed to write the religious column for their newspaper, and they found a printer named Martinet who “hated justice and loved liberty more than life itself.” Their new newspaper was called Les Petites Ailes de France, with the motto: “To live in defeat is to die everyday.” --Bonaparte

They were just beginning a long, hard struggle.

Lesson #2 Be well informed, be cautious, and never give up. To live in defeat is to die everyday. Like Henri Frenay, we will eventually be the victors. As Christians, no matter what struggles we face, we will have the victory through Jesus Christ.

The review of this intriguing book, The Night Will End, will be continued soon--hopefully tomorrow.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Book Review: The Night Will End-- Part 1

The Night Will End, by Henri Frenay, is the compelling story of the author’s role as a leader in the French Resistance in World War II. Frenay walks you down the road of memories into his “secret garden” where you will see the Resistance--conviction, courage, patriotism, loyalty, financial difficulties, mystery, moral dilemmas, pseudonyms, treachery, cowardice, arrests, torture, deaths, extreme sorrow, and unspeakable joy--and you sill find yourself sometimes laughing, sometimes crying. “Liberty or death…was also implicitly our own [motto],” the author tells us, “Most of us were young. Thus we were not only happy but joyous too. There could be no falser picture of the resisters than as clench-jawed, hawk-eyed sulkers along the walls.” So, who were they? and how did they get into this dangerous business? Let’s take a look.

Henri Frenay was an officer in the 43rd Army Corp. He was speechless and dismayed when they were beaten by the Germans and forced to surrender. Taken as a POW, Frenay decided to escape: he didn’t believe the early release rumors affirmed by the Germans. But not one commissioned officer would join him: all accepted the word of the victor. Finally, Frenay found a non-com willing to accompany him. They escaped by the skin of their teeth, while all their fellow POWs were to vegetate in German camps for 5 long years.

Lesson 1: Never believe anything your enemies tell you. Remember, the devil is the father of lies.

Part 2 of this review will be posted soon.