The author of The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just Before the Storm, constructs a window into life 100 years ago, so we may glimpse the aristocracy and commoners; artists, writers, politicians, suffragettes, and laborers living through the great British heat wave. (Book review) Throughout her anecdotal album of how the rich and famous coped, and how the not so well-off suffered, Juliet Nicholson draws from the news but, writes as if drawing from prominent people’s diaries. The reader may savor the gossip Ms Nicholson dispenses. Yet, the reader who knows how the lives of all these people will be irretrievably altered weeps. How important would the distress of heat and drought seem, if people knew what August 1914 would bring? She describes the young men attending parties and balls as unaware how soon they would be canon fodder.
I was vexed reading how carelessly those with wealth and privilege chose to live; Some of my vexation was tinged with jealousy. All things being equal, would I have been so different?
Where was the church in 1911? Parts of her were battling Islam in British Guiana the New York Time reported in the fall of 1911.But Ms. Nicholson did not report this. She reports very little of the church – visible or invisible. A remnant is not always so easy to spot among such glittery social fabrics – or bolts of social misery.
Where is the church today? – Where am I? The upheaval in Egypt shows an ongoing battle with Islam. (more info) I pray this generation’s remnant will be clearly visible – wherever we are! And I pray my courage will not slide either.
The summer of 2011 is a few months off; will a heat wave try us as it did the Brits a century ago? One hundred years ago, some warned – but none could imagine the coming carnage and chaos. We have more access to news of world events – events that might alter our comfortable world. So, in one sense, we are more aware – but how well do we understand our times?
" . . . If you grasp and cling to life on your terms, you'll lose it, but if you let that life go, you'll get life on God's terms. (Luke 17:27-37 The Message)
Lord, I believe – Help Thou, my unbelief!