Harry — yer a wizard.

So I've just started to pick up and read the Harry Potter books. It's about time I found out what all the fuss was about. Couldn't help but chuckle at this line, in the first chapter:

"— there will be books written about Harry Potter — every child in our world will know his name!"


I left off last night just after Hagrid informed Harry (spoiler alert) that he's a wizard. When I woke up this morning, my thoughts turned to another young lad who was stunned to find out about his destiny: Young Timothy, wielder of Berwhale, the Avenger.

If only the Dursleys had been so clever.

One in 10,000

Coming back to In the Garden of Beasts, the ambassador's mission, as given to him from Roosevelt, was to be "an American liberal in Germany as a standing example." The natural incompatibility between American liberalism and Nazism would be a difficult gap to bridge. Dodd's detractors at the embassy and in Washington believed he was fundamentally unsuited to the job because of his disdain for the Nazis.

Most of this disapproval was signaled obliquely. He did not, for instance, attend the yearly Nazi rallies in Nuremberg as a sign of America's disapproval of Nazi policies; and on a few occasions would give speeches to groups within the country that veiled the American disapproval by historical analogue, reminding the listeners of the collapse of historical despotic regimes. These were received well by those who could not speak out and despised by the regime.

Bret Baier: You call people sometimes "killers." He is, you know, he is a killer. He's clearly executing people...

President Trump: Well, he's a tough guy. Hey, when you take over a country — tough country, tough people — and you take it over from your father, I don't care who you are, what you are, how much of an advantage you have, if you can do that at twenty-seven years old — I mean that's one in 10,000 that could do that. So he's a very smart guy; he's a great negotiator; but I think we understand each other.

Bret Baier: But he's still done some really bad things.

President Trump (smirking): Yeah, but so have a lot of other people done some really bad things. I mean I could go through a lot of nations where really bad things were done.

In the Garden of Beasts

One wonders how different the course of the twentieth century would have been had the warnings about the Nazi government been received and acted upon in time. In the Garden of Beasts is, in part, the story of one such Cassandra — William Dodd, American Ambassador to Germany during the first few years of FDR's tenure, and of Hitler's rise to power.

He was disliked by the State Department because he disdained the good-old-boys club that ran it and their excesses. Their main concern was that he keep the Germans from defaulting on their debt to American creditors; his was doing what he could to moderate the German government and to encourage the liberal elements of German society that remained.

It's a sobering reflection on what results if we are willing to gloss over the warning signs of fascism, because we are either uninterested in its targets (the entire State Department, the ambassador and his family included, harbored some level of anti-Semitism) or because we are hopeful, assuring ourselves that the evil and corruption cannot sustain itself and will eventually collapse.

On Reading

A little while back I finally took the time to stop in by the library near my house and sign up for a library card. I tend to be something of a camel reader, in that I'll read non-stop for some time and then go months without picking up a book. Since getting a Kindle I've found it easier to read more consistently, particularly because it's easier for me to read for a little bit in bed after Jamie's fallen asleep.

One of the elders at my church had mentioned his trouble with e-readers is that, after he finished his first book on one, he realized he could not remember who wrote the book or what it was about. I tend to do him one better in that that tends to happen to me in paper as well. To that end, I am hoping to note my thoughts and opinions on the books I read here, hoping that in writing them down it will help solidify their memory.



Virginia in June is probably one of my favorite months. It calls back to memories (possibly fictions) of living in Lynchburg and being driven to t-ball at some park I can't quite place, or the smell of fresh-cut grass, or just that slightly humid feeling in the air.