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The Immortal Nicholas ~ A Capsule Book Review

The Immortal Nicholas

The Immortal Nicholas ~ A Capsule Book Review by Allen Kopp 

(This is a repost.)

The Immortal Nicholas by Glenn Beck is an unusual Christmas-themed novel that never mentions the word “Christmas” and isn’t any traditional Christmas story as we’ve come to know it. The main character is a man named Agios (Ah-GEE-os). He is embittered because his wife dies and then his young son dies through what he believes is his own carelessness while harvesting frankincense from trees growing on a mountainside that he himself has protected from intruders with poisonous snakes. He has no hope in life and wants only to die. When he is forced to leave his home, he encounters in his travels a young man named Krampus who is physically handicapped and who has been tortured by the Romans. He immediately takes up with Krampus and becomes his protector and, in a way, his father. His knowledge of frankincense and his possession of a small amount of the precious substance eventually leads him into the company of three “kings” (Balthazar, Melchior and Caspar) who are following a star that they believe will lead to the foretold Messiah who will save the world.

Agios finds himself in Bethlehem with the three kings at the stable where Jesus lay as a tiny baby. He wholeheartedly believes in the promise of Jesus’ birth and from that moment vows to protect Jesus, Mary and Joseph from those who would do them harm. He and Krampus follow Jesus around through the years, always staying in the background. He loses sight of Jesus until Jesus is a grown man and is going around ministering to the masses. Agios hears of Jesus’ ability to heal the lame and sick and he somehow believes that Jesus can cure Krampus of whatever is wrong with him if Agios can get him close enough to him. Agios and Krampus are present at the Sermon on the Mount but are not able to get very close to Jesus because of all the people. Finally, after all they go through to keep an eye on Jesus while staying always on the fringes of what is going on, they are there to witness the crucifixion. Agios is deeply stirred by the cruel death of the savior and goes away an embittered man. He believes that is the end of the promise that the birth of Jesus Christ gave to the world.

For some reason Agios doesn’t die but lives for centuries, to watch Krampus die and everybody else he ever cared about. While living as a hermit in the mountains centuries after the death of Jesus, he befriends a shepherd boy named Nicholas and learns from him that Jesus arose after his crucifixion, proving that his promise to the world was true and that he overcame death. From that moment on, Agios’ life is different. Despite his desire to not want to be near other people, he and Nicholas become close and Agios becomes a surrogate father to him. As Nicholas grows into adulthood, he becomes a priest with a very generous spirit and out of that the legend of Saint Nicholas grows, with a direct link back, through Agios, to the ministry of Jesus Christ.

The notes on the dust jacket tell us that Glenn Beck expanded The Immortal Nicholas into a novel for adults that started out as a children’s story. It’s simply written but smart and engaging enough for adults. It took a few surprising turns for me. When I started reading it, I didn’t know how a story about a man who lived at the beginning of the Christian Era could have anything to do with Saint Nicholas. I deliberately didn’t want to read any synopsis or summary while reading the book because I wanted to find out for myself where it would lead. Think what you will of Glenn Beck and his conservative principles, he is a very effective fiction writer.

Copyright © 2017 by Allen Kopp

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The Adoration of the Magi ~ A Painting by Sandro Botticelli

The Magi bring gifts to the Christ Child in this 1475 Italian Renaissance painting by Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510).

1936 Dodge Touring Sedan

1936 Dodge Touring Sedan

Darkest Hour ~ A Capsule Movie Review

Darkest Hour ~ A Capsule Movie Review by Allen Kopp

British actor Gary Oldman has played Beethoven and Dracula on the screen and now he plays Winston Churchill in the new movie, Darkest Hour. Winston Churchill became prime minister of Great Britain in May of 1940, almost by default, when the country and its politicians were unhappy with the way the elderly Neville Chamberlain was managing the war with Germany.

As the new British Prime Minister in 1940, Winston Churchill had an almost impossible job on his hands. He had a brusque, bullying manner, and a lot of people, even people in his own political party, didn’t like him. As King George V says to him, “You scare people. You scare me.” Personality problems were the least of his worries, though. Germany had assembled the largest fighting force in the history of the world, they were superior in tanks, air power and weaponry, and they were winning the war against the Allies. They were conquering all of Western Europe and were invading France, only forty miles across the English Channel from Britain’s shores. German invasion seemed inevitable. It seemed the war was already lost. American forces were not able to help at this point because, as President Franklin D. Roosevelt tells Churchill, “my hands are tied” by the Neutrality Act. The U.S. wouldn’t enter the war until the stakes became higher.

Britain could fight it out and almost certainly be crushed. Germany would very likely annihilate the entire country and its culture and then step in and make it its own. The other alternative was a “negotiated peace” with Germany, which “Hitler’s puppet,” that delightful fellow, Benito Mussolini of Italy, would help to facilitate in Venice between Britain and Germany. This amounted to a surrender, which a lot of powerful politicians (including former Prime Minster Neville Chamberlain) advocated. They were unable to understand why Churchill would not even entertain the idea of “peace talks” with Germany.

The best scene in Darkest Hour (or, anyway, my favorite scene) is when Churchill, who has almost decided that capitulation to Germany is the only way to keep Britain from being crushed, goes off on his own and rides the “Underground” (London’s subway). While on the train, he meets and engages in conversation with some of the “common people,” bricklayers and housewives. He asks them what they think about negotiating an end to the war with Germany, mostly on German terms. Would these common people like for their country to become a puppet state of Nazi Germany? Would they like to see a swastika flying from Buckingham Palace? Their answer is clear: We will never surrender!  Churchill then gives his famous speech to Parliament, in which he states irreconcilably: We will go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to rescue and the liberation of the old.

If you, like me, are fascinated by the high drama of World War II, where truth is truly stranger than fiction, you will love Darkest Hour. Gary Oldman dominates the screen every second as Winston Churchill. If those dumbbells in Hollywood don’t award him an Oscar, they might as well fold their tents and go home.

Copyright © 2017 by Allen Kopp

Two Young Men and a Table

Lollipop Party

September 18, 1919. World War I soldiers and nurses watch a parade on Fifth Avenue in New York. They don’t seem very troubled by the war.

 

For Your Boy