Rose Seiler Scott

Rose Seiler Scott, Author

The Rambling Rose

Author: Rose Seiler Scott

I am a work in progress, a believer in God's grace and a recipient of his gifts.
I write, dream, think and share with others.

February 7, 2017
by Rose Scott
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Book Review: Prisoner of Tehran

 

 

In late 1970’s Iran, the Shah’s government was on shaky ground and the relative peace of Marina Nemat’s childhood erupted into unrest and restrictions on freedom,  culminating in the death of her friend. As a young woman and a Christian minority, she dared to participate in protests against the Ayatollah Khomeini and spoke out at her school when the political climate affected her education.

In 1982, at the age of sixteen she was arrested for her political activities, along with several of her friends and taken to Evin prison where she was interrogated and tortured.  She was slated for execution, but at the last minute, a prison guard intervened and her sentence was commuted to mere “life imprisonment.” Little did Nemat realise the price she would have to pay for being allowed to live.

After several months of suffering and watching her friends be sent to their deaths, she is forced to make the most difficult choices of her life. Eventually freedom comes, but at a cost. Her traumatic experiences prove almost impossible to express to others and she recognises that she has changed. It is a prison of another kind.

The narrative is a poignant and emotional journey. Though some have criticised the book for being “movie like” or patently untrue, notwithstanding the slight variations in memory that may exist over time, this memoir has the ring of truth.  The author should only be commended for her courage to write such a raw and painful story.

She comes to discern that her captors, even the Ayatollah himself, are, like all of us, a complex mixture of good and bad.  This understanding of human nature and its shades of grey is impressive, when it is so much easier to paint people as either morally upright or evil. What’s more, though she fully grasps the wrongs done to her, she made the decision to forgive—of this she states, “I knew forgiveness didn’t come at once and complete, beautifully packaged and tied with a red ribbon, but it came little by little. And my forgiving…wasn’t going to erase the pain…but would help me rise above the past and face all that had happened…so I could be free” (p.236).

After many years of silence, Nemat chose to heal by giving voice to her trials and becoming a witness to the egregious errors of political imprisonment. This book was a “Canada Reads” contender in 2012.  A well written and moving story.

September 3, 2016
by Rose Scott
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Ellen Marie Wiseman: What She Left Behind

Izzy is a teenage foster child struggling with loss, abandonment and unwanted change. When her new foster mother offers a challenge involving an old asylum, Izzy joins in with the task of documenting all that was left behind by the former inhabitants. One former patient who lived in the asylum earlier in the century, captures Izzy’s heart and imagination and her efforts to piece together Clara’s life of tragedy leads her on an interesting journey.

Wiseman has done her homework and the haunting atmosphere of the old asylum comes to life with both the past and present characters. I was thoroughly engrossed with the characters and their unique stories and couldn’t wait to see how the plot unfolded.

Though Wiseman uses Clara’s story and not a soapbox to do so, this historical novel reveals the mistakes of the past as something we can and should learn from. What She Left Behind exposes the cruelty that takes place when systems, hierarchies and misplaced ideals take precedence over the individual needs and unique circumstances of human beings. This book reminds us that institutions and caregivers responsible for vulnerable people must always remember their humanity.

whatsheleftbehind

June 15, 2016
by Rose Scott
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“Why are you going to Poland?” my 96 year old Oma asked my father and I. Going back to the old country, even for a visit held no appeal. Considering what she had gone through in the post-war years in Europe, it was not surprising.

I was well into writing my novel Threaten to Undo Us based on those difficult years and had spent hours reading of the turbid history of Poland and its ethnic minorities. Poring over maps, I searched out elusive villages, but the names have changed. The Poland of history no longer exists and its memory is fading from those who once lived there. Still, I feel the need to go and see what I can learn.

Poland 1902

Poland 1902 Public Domain

Piotrowkowska street

Piotrowkowska street

Fortunately my parents were seasoned travellers and in good health so I didn’t have a hard time convincing them to come along.  My Dad made arrangements to meet up with a cousin in Germany who had been to Poland in recent years and would travel with us.

I wondered what I would find. An emerging second world country with impoverished and unemployed people loitering around? Or worse, roving bands of skin-headed criminals ready to steal any vehicle bearing German license plates, such as the one we drove. Based on the cost of the rental, almost equal to purchasing a second hand car, that fear may not have been unfounded.

Like disintegrating sepia photographs, my expectations dissolved as we sped past what had been the border, along a newly paved highway adorned with modern billboards, stores and roadside restaurants. In a mere 25 years, Poland has gone from economic oppression to the expansive umbrella of the European Economic Union.

Our adventure began with lunch; the same meal we would eat on several occasions: cabbage, pork chops and potatoes. Apparently that  hadn’t changed much over the years.

The menu would have been indecipherable, except for Dad and E who had brushed up on their long unused Polish. Here I must digress. I find the rhythms and origins of languages fascinating, though I only speak English and a little German. Much to a neighbour’s surprise, I once figured out most of a recipe written in Romanian. I utilized Latin prefixes, Italian music vocabulary, a German word or two and my cereal box French.

With a little effort, I assume it shouldn’t be that difficult to decipher the gist of simple written phrases in most European languages. But on this, I am very wrong. Polish has Slavic roots and is related to Russian and Czech, definitely not English, Germanic or Latin languages.  The use of the Roman alphabet doesn’t really help English readers when there are six consonants in a row. No clues whatsoever.

Regardless, like most Canadian travellers, I determined to learn at least a few words requisite for politeness: Djin dobre (hello), Dziękuję (thank you) and Do widzenia (goodbye).

Late in the afternoon we arrived in Łódź, but the sultry German voice on our GPS did not guide us to our hotel. In fact, we could not seem to get onto Piotrokowska street at all and ended up in an area of town where you don’t want to be when you don’t speak the language and your travelling companions are senior citizens. But E. didn’t seem worried. We parked by a newsstand and she got out of the vehicle. In broken Polish she asked the proprietor, a beefy looking guy about six feet tall, for directions.

He gestured for us to wait, locked up his kiosk, then came over to the car, insisting that he would ride with us!

I quickly sized up the situation and checked the vehicle exits. Let’s see there was me, an unathletic, arthritic forty-something with no weapons,  my parents and the cousin, in their sixties and seventies. The only help I could see was from above, so I sent up an urgent request to be returned alive at the appropriate interval to my family at home.

Grand_Hotel_old_Lodz

The Grand Hotel

In about 3 minutes we were at our destination. Without pulling a knife or gun, the man jumped out of the car. Barely allowing for our hurried “Dziękuję,” he disappeared without even asking for a ride back.

The reason the GPS had not led us correctly: Piotrkowska Street is reserved for pedestrians. Should have known that from my research!
IMG_1229Like our helpful carjacker, the hotel did not disappoint. Charming and authentic, the Orbis Grande is over 100 years old, its edifices integral to iconic  Piotrkowska street.

Opening the window, I could look down on the cobblestone street below, however the balcony floor was so fractured, I wasn’t about to step out there. I’d had enough adventure for one day!IMG_1230

April 25, 2016
by Rose Scott
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Book Review: In Search of Sticks

 

Hope and her family in Africa are born to a life of suffering. James A. Terrance, with a talent for mimicking accents from Australia to Ireland, lives a life of comparative luxury and simple routine in North America. In reading a newspaper article he begins to wonder about the ease of his life and why people in other parts of the world suffer.

As the story unwinds, the situation in Africa escalates. Violence, disease and starvation loom around every corner. When James decides to do something, a journey of discovery and frustration ensues. Can he make a difference and mobilize others to do so?

This book is both beautiful and heartbreaking with an omniscient writing style unique in today’s narratives. Kaneen pans from all viewpoints; across the world, his characters, their environments and inside the human soul.  With a keen sense of the complexity of the world and the situations we find ourselves in, he paints a philosophically touching picture.

A literary piece, truly moving and well worth reading.

April 15, 2016
by Rose Scott
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Wittenberg Part 2: A Dark Secret

After we visited tower church and took our pictures in front of Martin Luther’s statue (albeit under scaffolding) we carried on further into the town to look at the parish church of St. Mary, where Martin Luther preached much of the time.IMG_2508

Wandering around the building outside to look at the architecture and items of interest, here is something I did not expect to see.

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At the back, carved below the roof and chimney, as if an afterthought to the official architecture and design of the church exterior, is a small relief sculpture depicting pigs and Jews; clearly an anti-Semitic insult.

My heart is sickened as I look on this strange fresco dated from 1305. Who would have thought to put such a thing on a church whose founder, Jesus Christ, was Jewish?

Apparently this “Judensau,” found in other locales in Europe and dating from the Middle ages, is one of the surviving examples of a form of degenerate folk art depicting Jews and pigs.

As a 21st century Christian, I wonder what was going through people’s heads back in those days. It’s impossible to say, so I can only speculate. Besides being evidence of the darkness of human hearts, were these prejudices a backlash for the persecution of early Christians? Was this insulting relief and others like it an ill thought out re-iteration of Biblical judgement on those who reject Jesus as Messiah? Or was it simply an “us” and “them” mentality brought about by ignorance of people who were largely illiterate and whose access to Scripture was limited by the fact that the printing press wasn’t yet invented?

I don’t know, but curious as I am to understand, if I were to dive into the “why” of historic anti-Semitism, I would be opening centuries of  disgusting worms and that would go way beyond the scope of this blog post.

I can only say that over history, there are things the church as an institution, and individuals who claim to be part of the church, have got wrong.

Hatred was never what Jesus intended.

But there is good news in this case: Eventually there was acknowledgement of the wrongs of the past. The fresco has been left intact, probably for historical purposes, but imbedded in the cobblestones below is a new plaque, a response from the congregation, installed in 1988. Between four tiles, a molten substance like gold, presses up – the cross of Christ, a sign of guilt and atonement.

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The inscription around the plaque reads: “The true name of God, the maligned Chem Ha Mphoras, which Jews long before Christianity regarded as almost unutterable holy, this name died with six million Jews, under the sign of the Cross.”

The apology took a long time, but light has been cast on Wittenberg’s dark secret. Unlike their forbears, this congregation got it right.

March 16, 2016
by Rose Scott
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Wittenberg: A Tower of Hope

I’m launching the new cover for Threaten to Undo Us with a blog series highlighting a trip to Europe in 2009. Join me on my adventures as we travel through Poland and the former East Germany!

Ein Feste Burg

Ein Feste Burg

Ein’ feste Burg ist unser Gott,
Ein gute Wehr und Waffen;
Er hilft uns frei aus aller Not,
Die uns jetzt hat betroffen…

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing…

Und wenn die Welt voll Teufel wär
Und wollten uns verschlingen,
So fürchten wir uns nicht so sehr,
Es soll uns doch gelingen.

And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.

Rising above the town of Wittenberg, a wide Gothic tower with a round dome and an ornate spire points to heaven. Below its windows the inscription reads: Ein Feste Burg ist Unser Gott, Ein Gute Wehr und Waffen. These words begin Martin Luther’s famous Reformation hymn, sung for centuries in German and English in churches throughout the western world.

Seeing the tower when I previously had no idea of its existence was a thrill because long before I visited the former German Democratic Republic, the first line of Luther’s hymn had become the working title for my book. Since the family in the story was Lutheran it seemed appropriate, and once decided the theme of a fortress began to weave itself into the book, as symbolic of hope and protection for the family.

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Castle Church tower

I didn’t take a picture of the door that Luther nailed his 95 theses or protests on, because the original door no longer exists–it was destroyed in a fire and I think when we were there the memorial door was under renovation. (More information on the historic site can be found here: http://www.sacred-destinations.com/germany/wittenberg-castle-church )

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Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the All Saints church ( also known as Castle church) and is buried here.

Luther’s story begins before that though, with a profound change that happened in his heart. As a monk at an Augustinian order, Luther studied theology and Scripture extensively. He wrestled in particular with the book of Romans and its contrast with the Roman Catholic church practice of offering partial forgiveness of sins in exchange for money. According to the apostle Paul, faith alone was sufficient for salvation. Luther’s understanding of righteousness by faith was incredibly freeing and has been for millions since.

The certainty of salvation as a fortress of God’s making is expressed in the second verse of the hymn:

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing, were not the right man on our side, the man of God’s own choosing.

God is a fortress of hope when life seems hopeless and a certainty to cling to in uncertain times.

But I discovered Wittenberg has a dark secret…

Stay tuned for Part 2

January 21, 2016
by Rose Scott
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Book Review: In Moonlight’s Shadow by David E. Burnell

Forrester is a brash young pilot, a Canadian, in the Royal Airforce during World War Two. After an error in judgment 31cI++FIt7L._AA160_he is assigned to a short leave, when he meets the Lady Armitage and her attractive but aloof niece Susan Rosebury.

Returning to duty, “one quick mission” to the Continent -a foray into enemy territory to attack the Germans, results in a series of events that will change everything for Forrester. Stranded in occupied France, with only his wits to help him survive he tries to elude the enemy, but encounters an SS officer about to rape a young woman. Forrester saves her from his clutches, but his actions place both his and Jacqueline’s lives in danger.

Back in England, he finds his role in the RAF has changed. He is sworn to secrecy about what he is doing and finds himself torn between the two young women.

An inciting incident causes Forrester to take matters into his own hands, and he inflicts well deserved damage to the Gestapo headquarters. Only problem is he did not have his CO’s approval for this particular junket and the consequences of Forrester’s actions are far- reaching. Caught in a web of intrigue and danger, he is unable to explain to his new girlfriend what he has been up to. Misunderstandings further complicate the relationship, leaving Lady Armitage, his girlfriend and family to wonder what kind of man Forrester is.

This is one of few books that has something for any who likes World War Two fiction. A love story, action and intrigue is woven believably throughout. Aside from characters occasionally shifting point of view, the historic depiction rings true and authentic with detail and description that rarely overwhelms. An enjoyable read.

Available through

http://goo.gl/T93fh9 and on Amazon.ca http://goo.gl/W3kOq7

January 2, 2016
by Rose Scott
2 Comments

Mein Kampf: A struggle and dangerous ideas

Public Domain

Public Domain

Ideas can be dangerous. Books of ideas, even more so. Adolf Hitler’s infamous tome, first published in 1925-26 has just entered the public domain and if there was ever a dangerous book of ideas, Mein Kampf is it.

Fearing that it could incite anti-semitism, especially in Germany, some people want the book to be severely restricted. Others see it as historically significant. As a compromise, the state of Bavaria, which had held the copyright, is releasing an annotated version for study and to shed light on this dark era of history.

For the purposes of providing historical context in my book, I wanted to use a quote from Mein Kampf. Speaking of struggle,  I spent a fair bit of time trying to figure out who actually held the rights to Mannheim’s English translation, but when I finally tracked down the correct publisher my query to use a short quote was bounced back and forth like a ping pong ball. When I finally reached the right department I had to answer pointed questions as to why I wanted to use the quote. Eventually I received permission, but it was only for the US publisher and I would have to make a separate query to the Canadian publisher, which would cost me time and money. With regret I chose to eliminate the quote.

Mein Kampf has been described as disturbing, tedious, confusing, redundant, turgid, repetitious, wandering, illogical and hysterical. After reading a number of quotes from the book I must say I concur. Trying to figure out which of many directions to go with this blog post, was also a tedious struggle!

One idea that occurred to me is that Fascism and communism, when boiled down are really the same thing. While Hitler considered himself vehemently against Marxism and what he considered its Jewish origin, his book reveals that his ideas, when boiled down, aren’t that much different.

Propaganda functioned as a machine in both the communist and fascist states.

Hitler’s thoughts on propaganda and its recipients:

I at once took charge of the propaganda, believing this branch to be far the most important for the time being…The first necessity was to spread our ideas among as many people as possible (chapter 5).  Its chief function is to convince the masses, whose slowness of understanding needs to be given time in order that they may absorb information; and only constant repetition will finally succeed in imprinting an idea on the memory of the crowd (chapter 6).

Like Marx and Lenin, Hitler didn’t think much of the bourgeois or middle class and credited them with a lack of intelligence, especially if they didn’t agree with his ideals of racial superiority.

While the bourgeois blockhead stares with amazed admiration at the notice that tells him how marvellous are the achievements of our modern educational technique, the more cunning Jew sees in this fact a new proof to be utilized for the theory with which he wants to infect the public, namely that all men are equal. It does not dawn on the murky bourgeois mind that the fact which is published for him is a sin against reason itself (chapter 2).

Of course, in the class struggles of Marxism, the wealthy bourgeois were considered the enemies of the state, but Hitler’s brand of fascism pitted races, rather than classes, against one another.

Both regimes thought it important to manage religious belief.

Marx and Lenin managed religion by eliminating God and religion from all public life, equating religion with the despised bourgeois class.  They made the state the new God.

Hitler’s method was perhaps more insidious, twisting Biblical ideas to his own ends, attempting to Nazify the churches, undermine their programs and made the state itself a kind of church, complete with ostentatious ceremonies celebrating Nazism.

While both Neo-Nazis and atheists have tried to brand Hitler as a Christian, his ideas do not mesh with orthodox Christian beliefs.

Original sin, as revealed in the Bible and traditional theology is disobedience. Hitler’s ideas on this doctrine appear to be his own:

… they were simply told that they ought to put an end to this truly original sin of racial corruption which is steadily being passed on from one generation to another (chapter 2).

He also had issues with missionary work:

…they try to convert the Hottentots and the Zulus and the Kaffirs and to bestow on them the blessings of the Church, while our European people… are left to become the victims of moral depravity, the pious missionary goes out to Central Africa and establishes missionary stations for negroes…It would better accord with noble human aspirations if our two Christian denominations would cease to bother the negroes with their preaching, which the negroes neither desire nor understand (Chapter 2).

Marx and Stalin are well known for advocating terror to impose communism and Hitler also advocated the use of force to impose his ideas:

Only in the steady and constant application of force lies the very first prerequisite for success (Chapter 5).

Though considered opposite poles of the political spectrum, the outcomes of both Nazi ideology and Marxist ideology has been the same; heartlessly depraved leaders, economic ruin and most significantly the inhumane treatment and murder of millions of innocent people.

My point is that, evil is evil no matter what side of the political spectrum it falls on. In Mein Kampf, the ideas espoused are not only repugnant but just plain morally wrong.

It would be a struggle on many levels for me to read the entire book, so I don’t think I’ll bother.

I’ll stick with a different controversial book that has been restricted or banned in dozens of countries. Is the Bible dangerous? Yes, but for entirely different reasons. Reading the Bible with an open heart to its message can change people from the inside, no matter what race, culture or class they are.

Of course, the central character is Jewish.

Perhaps Hitler should have given it a more careful read…

Quotes from Mein Kampf are from the Murphy translation- Creative Commons

 

November 10, 2015
by Rose Scott
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Opposites

 

11986372_10153618028166672_822015880527799676_nTalk about opposites!

Earlier this year, my first novel, THREATEN TO UNDO US was published. It is a war story, and though I tried to write it as hopeful as possible, you can imagine it was heavy and difficult to write.

While I was waiting for the publication process (these things don’t happen overnight), I submitted a few lighter short pieces of writing to the editors of the popular Hot Apple Cider Series. Out of the three pieces I submitted, they chose two for the third book HOT APPLE CIDER WITH CINNAMON. Yay!

You’ll love this book! Not just the part I wrote, which I hope you will enjoy, but all the stories! Some are heart-warming, some funny, others might make you cry. We all have those times in life when we feel discouraged, ill or exhausted and need a little cheer. Or perhaps we are just too busy to get through a novel. This book is perfect for those times. Or maybe after you’ve read THREATEN TO UNDO US.

The book is a compilation of 61 Christian authors from across Canada.

If you are in the Greater Vancouver area and would like to purchase your copy from me,  here are the upcoming events:

I will have copies on hand of all the Hot Apple Cider books, including a gift pack of all three.

North Langley Community Church Women’s Breakaway November 18th 9:15 (pre-register with Breakaway)

Christmas Event with Carola “Bethea” Meerkerk November 27th 7: 00 PM (please contact myself or Carola to RSVP)

Book Launch Christmas Open House and Christmas shopping at my House: November 28th  6:30-10:00 RVSP via contact form or Rose Seiler Scott FB author page

 Langely Evangelical Free Breakaway December 2 8:45 (pre-register with Breakaway)

Fort Langley “Christmas in the Village” Market December 19th – details TBA

For further information or to purchase online see link below:

HACConesheetHiResColourNov2 HACConesheetHiResColourNov2015 (1)

September 10, 2015
by Rose Scott
0 comments

View from an airplane

From theIMG_0116adust2 window of the airplane, the earth below is a random collection of rugged snow-topped peaks. The Rockies give way to placid lakes scattered like pearls over the snowy landscape, strung together unevenly by meandering streams, rivers and forests.

We descend into the lowlands where the marks of human habitation are easy to spot. Rectangular fields furrowed in straight lines. Barns and houses, situated neatly in a corner; the lines between properties delineated clearly with fences and hedges. A ribbon of highway cuts along the valley towards the suburbs. The patterns of vast parking lots, vehicles, uniform box stores and rhythmic subdivisions are the marks of civilization as I know it.

It occurs to me that humans like order. The farmer ploughs a straight line. The builder uses squares and rectangles for his measure.  We operate according to clock, calendar and schedule, meting out our minutes as if we were in charge of them. Our plan, on any given day, is to get from Point A to point B along the smooth and efficient highway with no traffic or accidents.

 

We want to know our children will come home from school. That our parents will live a long and happy life and die peacefully in their sleep. We want the security of knowing we have a job tomorrow with its accompanying paycheque.

Like Job in the Bible, we don’t appreciate the disruption of devastating illness, random violence or the collapse of financial security. When relationships break,  when a loved one falls ill and dies, our desires for predictability and order are shattered. We want our plans to work out.

When viewing the chaos of life from an earthly perspective, some refuse to acknowledge a God who allows such apparent disorder. Others cry out to the God of the universe, asking Him to re-order our lives, to make the crooked straight and to restore what is broken and lost. To make everything to how. It. Should. Be. According to our straight and limited designs.

But God’s order is not like ours. His designs are subtle and yet profoundly beautiful. As viewed from the airplane, I do not first notice the design etched upon the crags of the mountains where the snow has collected or the perfection of individual snowflakes. I cannot fathom the fractal placement of each tree branch and the measured out tributaries of the snaking river which follow this same pattern. The Fibonacci sequence which is the numerical blueprint for flower petals and pinecones is a complex mystery to my mind. The Creator whispers His mysteries in the secrets of nature down the side roads, along the winding forest trail and even out the window of an airplane.

That same God reveals beauty in other unexpected places. The smile of a child with Down’s syndrome. The vision of heaven experienced by a woman on her deathbed. The sorrow of a prison inmate who repents from his past life and begins anew.

I don’t like to be told “everything happens for a reason.” It is such a clumsy attempt to sum up God’s plan when things go awry. We might naively think we should find a reason or even think we know it. But if we are honest we realize it will rarely be in this life. Humanly speaking, we are incapable of seeing it, just as the intricacies of a snowflake can barely be discerned without a magnifying glass.

The patterns of nature are not immediately visible, but they are there for those who would observe. Life in this world may seem haphazard and unfair, but when we reflect on God’s creation, study His character and take note of His workings throughout the kaleidoscope of history, glimpses of a pattern will emerge.  The rest will be revealed. In God’s own time and way.