Twelve Books that show how Christmas changed the world.
On the twelfth day of Christmas, our True Love gave the world: liberation in the communist bloc.
Sometimes we may be too close to history to see it. For example, we often hear skeptics talk about the Inquisition, which killed a few thousand innocent people thousands of years ago, and completely forget about the tens of millions of victims of communist inquisitions. We hear the cries of the few who suffered a millennia ago, and they drown out far greater horrors practically next door.
We also fail to hear the thankful cries of millions from our own generation, as Chesterton wrote of the liberation of an earlier gang of freed captives:
"Breaking of the hatches up and bursting of the holds,
Thronging of the thousands up that labour under sea
White for bliss and blind for sun and stunned for liberty.
Don John of Austria
Has set his people free!"
The Gospel has, as this series shows, done civilization many services. One we often forget because it is too close: Christianity undermined Big Brother in his many guises, especially throughout that third of the world that was communist. Marxist brainwashing was relentless: attacks on "enemies of the state," and lying flattery of despots and thugs, assailed citizens in school, newspapers, on television, walls, over loudspeakers, through history and science texts, even on maps and history books. The Church gave people a break from the propaganda. In place of hate, believers praised God and shared one another's burdens. In place of the grey monotony of social-realist architecture and "art," the Church provided beautiful, uplifting music, incense and colorful processions, beautiful ancient architecture (when it wasn't blown up by the communists), comfort, cheer, and hope.
Christianity also aided in the overthrow of both Naziism and Communism.
This story is told in many books. I choose In God's Underground, by the Romanian pastor Richard Wurmbrand, as just one of many good selections. See below for other choices.
Mystic. Philosopher. Loving husband. Worried father. Proud member of the Jewish race. Creature with nerve ending that ache when you hit them and who hungers when you starve him. Social being who hallucinates apart from human voices, and hungers for sex and companionship as well as food. Martyr who stands up to tyrants and warns them to repent. Lutheran pastor with a weakness for jokes. Richard Wurmbrand may have been a 'voice of the martyrs,' but after reading this sensitive, deeply honest autobiography, what impresses me the most is the degree to which his voice is also the voice of humanity. I found it challenging to see how, as a well-read Christian in tough times who faces all the temptations I do, he integrated the various facets of his humanity with his faith.
In a literal sense, faith made Wurmbrand a free-thinker. Embracing a religion that fits the full complexity of life, miracles as well as madness, and sharing a broad and often painful experience with a knowledge of several spiritual traditions, he was free to think on many questions and come to unexpected conclusions both whimsical and sober. There are many modern names that could be added to the list of heroes of the faith of Hebrews 11. Wurmbrand tells some of their stories, including his own.
Other books: Alexander Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Gulag Archpelago. Sergei Kourdakov, The Persecutor. Brother Andrew, God's Smuggler. George Weigel, The Final Revolution. Richard Wurmbrand, Tortured for Christ.