Above Suspicion

This book was first published in 1941. The above cover is from a 2013 release on Amazon (one reviewer complained about the typos). Find the first edition at your library if you can.

This is the first book of fiction written by MacInnes. It is placed in Germany in 1939 just before the invasion of Poland. Richard and Francis Myles are asked by a MI6 friend to check on one of their agents operating in Austria who may have been compromised. The Myles’ have taken their summer breaks from Oxford every year by traveling around Europe, so this year they would simply make a couple of extra stops.

But this is a spy novel set at the beginning of the war when nothing is so simple.

If you like the genera, I especially recommend this book, indeed, most of her books, because they are rich in detail that is almost impossible for modern writers to match. Helen married Gilbert Highet, the world’s leading classics scholar who both taught at Oxford and secretly  worked for MI6. The two of them spent their summers traveling through Europe. Helen took notes on every place they visited which she later used to sprinkle her stories with all that detail. Highet was lured away to Columbia University in New York in 1937 where they lived the rest of their lives.

Don’t assume that Gilbert told his wife how agents operated. She had to watch what he did as they traveled and make logical conclusions. Violating the Official Secrets Act was a serious offense. I doubt he told her any more than that he gathered information.

The world was very different in 1939. After Germany annexed several neighbors, including Austria, their population was 80 million. Today it is 83 million without the other countries (they lost about 8 million of their population in the war). The UK with its Empire had 550 million; but only 47 million in the UK, today 68 million. The US was at 147 million, 331 million today.  Nearly all countries were still largely rural and good paved roads were in the future, except for Germany.

This is considered one of her best books. Her second book, Assignment in Brittany, was so detailed that is was required reading for all agents preparing to jump into France.

Mike Lawrence

Will I be Wheat or Darnel?

Image by Pavlofox from Pixabay

 

Isaiah 44:6-8
Psalm 86:11-17
Romans 8:12-25
Matthew 13:24-43

Today’s reading in Matthew follows the reading from last Sunday. It also follows the same theme. Jesus expects his followers to live the life that God intended humans to live. Last week was about planting the seed and this week is more about the harvest.

He put another parable before them. ‘The kingdom of Heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everybody was asleep his enemy came, sowed darnel all among the wheat, and made off.’ NJB

The point Jesus is making is that there are God loving people in the world who will find themselves with God in the New Life. But there are also people who are filled with sin living next to the good people. Some people think we should get rid of those sinners so that the world would be a pleasant place to live. God’s plan is to sort it all out when we die.

I had to look up darnel. The Greek text uses the word because it is also known as false wheat. It puts up a seed stalk and forms seed much like wheat. Today, we have chemicals that will kill darnel, but they also kill wheat because both are grasses. I don’t know how they handled the problem in Jesus’ day. In the parable the two plants were cut separately, and the darnel was burned.

More to the point for us is how God handles the human harvest. It is important to note that God intends to allow each of us opportunity to choose Him. His plan is all inclusive. The plan covers still born babies, infant deaths, pre-teens, and teens. I don’t know His plan, but I know God wants every one of us to join him in the New Jerusalem.

Those who resist to the last will be burned in the fire.

There has been some turmoil over the riots after the death of George Floyd. Many are pushing Black Lives Matter and many are opposed to that effort. There is an equal reaction called Police Lives Matter and one called All Lives Matter.

Where should Christians stand?

As I wrote above, God wants every one of us to join him in the New Jerusalem. God is on our side, that is, the side of everyone. He does not want us to kill anyone. When we start thinking like that then we become Adolph Hitler and Pol Pot. We even get to decide who the evil ones are. That is the job of the Son of God.

It is easy to see the burning and looting and blame all the demonstrators. If they had not taken to the streets the crimes would not have happened. It also seems to be too easy to accuse all protestors of being criminals.

Christians should be upset that black men are so often killed by the police. The FBI collects all kinds of crime information except deaths caused by the police. The Washington Post started collecting information on police shootings in 2015. They found that about 1,000 people are killed every year by police shootings. Half of the dead are white though they are 60% of the population, 26% killed are black from 12% of the population, and 18% of those killed are Hispanic who are 18% of the population.

Oddly enough, while the safest place to live in the US is Rhode Island with only 4 police shootings per one million population, New York has only 5 per million while Illinois and Michigan each have 8 per million. Alaska has 53 per million.

Christians cannot allow our culture to dictate what we think. We must always seek first the Word on all issues and then get the best information about what is happening and apply the Word to that information. When we see that 12% of our population is more likely to be poor, under educated, living in rough housing, eating poorly, and now getting Covid 19 at a much higher rate, we must understand that the Word of God expects us to do what we can to help.

It is easy to say, ‘I can’t solve the problems of the world, so I won’t even try.’ But if a few million of us do what we can, people’s lives can improve. Jesus did say, ‘the poor will always be with us,’ but he never said to stop helping the poor.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence