Blood Letters: A Book Review

9781541644236On the plane ride home from vacation I read the biography Blood Letters: The Untold Story of Lin Zhao, A Martyr in Mao’s China by Lian Xi. The book is a quick read, has lots of notes, and is compelling in the extreme. It is incredible.

The book is a biography of Lin Zhao, a woman who spent most of her adult life in prison under the evil dictatorship of Mao Zedong in China. She was born in China to what I think of as a middle-class family with intellectual leanings. Lin Zhao became enamored with Mao and communism in high school. In college, she studied writing and journalism for the express purpose of facilitating “The Revolution.” Her initial enthusiasm for communism was likely a reaction against the Nationalists abuses and the general confusion following the invasion of China by Japan and the general unsettledness in the world following World War II.

It wasn’t long before she realized that communism was (is) merely a disguise for a new kind of dictator, and her disillusionment lead to the writing of anti-Maoist poetry. Early in her rebellion against the communist regime, she returned to the Christian heritage she had been raised in and which had been nurtured by Methodist missionaries. She participated in the publication of opposition pamphlets, and for that, was imprisoned. She was in prison for eight years where she was tortured until she was executed in 1968.

She continued to write throughout her imprisonment. Deprived of ink and pen, or sometimes out of conviction, she wrote letters, treatises, and even plays in her own blood on toilet paper, which the authorities kept as a apart of her file. Part of that file was released in 1981, which is why we know of her story. It is a story which ranks with those of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Nelson Mandela as compelling accounts of voices that refused to be silenced.

The book is not always easy to read. Part of this is because of the difficult subject matter of torture and prison, another part is due to my unfamiliarity with Chinese culture and nomenclature. But a big part was the the author’s style. He has an odd time-slip tendency in his writing of moving between years and events without bridges or explanation. Once I got use to this quirk, the reading was easier.

I can’t tell if Lin Zhao was martyred because she was a Christian or if she was martyred because she was a political dissident. Perhaps in Maoist China there was no difference, as the cult of Mao was all that mattered. In that sense, she might be closely akin to Martin Luther King, Jr. who was no doubt assassinated because of his brave political activity against the unjust and totalitarian Jim Crow regime in the American south, but it was no doubt his Christian faith that lead him to be so brave and daring in his prophetic zeal. That is the way I view Lin Zhao–the more she resisted, the more it became clear her strength came from her inner convictions of faith.

I highly recommend the book.

 

 

2015 PREDICTIONS

2015 crystal ball

Here it goes, some predictions for the coming year.  Everyone else is doing it, so why doesn’t old Greenbean give it a shot?  Disclaimer:  I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet.  I have no crystal ball.  Clairvoyance is not a gift I possess or desire to possess.2015 crystal ball  These are only guesses based on my understanding of things.  For comparison, click here to see how I did with my 2014 predictions.

1. There will be major social and political upheaval in China.  The Communist Party may fall.

2. By the end of the year, Elizabeth Warren will displace Hillary Clinton as the frontrunner for the Democratic nominee for President, and will be the eventual nominee.

3. U2 will release an album and not give any of the music away for free.

4. Apple stock will plummet this year as people realize that the most innovative company on the planet is suddenly just another gadget maker.

5. The price of oil will begin to climb in the spring and will again be around $100 a barrel by December. Consequently, gas prices will also rise back to somewhere around $4.00 a gallon.

6. The NFC Championship game will be The Seattle Seahawks versus the Dallas Cowboys.

7. The San Francisco Giants will not win the World Series in 2015, because it is their year off.

8. ISIS will carry out a major 9-11ish style attack in Europe. Probably somewhere along the Mediterranean.  I so hope I’m wrong on this one.

9. Comprehensive immigration reform will finally be passed in the U.S. Congress.

10. The Supreme Court of the United States will hear and decide the status of same-sex marriages, ending the odd state-by-state situation.

11. CNN will, for all intent and purposes, collapse, and Wolf Blitzer will be donated to the Smithsonian.

12.  Russia will invade and annex the whole of Ukraine while the United States and Europe protest, but do nothing.

13.  Sadly, and I so very much hope this doesn’t happen, I predict Miley Cyrus will die of a drug overdose or some other dangerous behavior.  Sad.  Very sad.  She needs help–so many of them do.

I would love to know what you are predicting for 2015–be it good or ill.

crystal ball image from nativemobile.com