Hitler’s infamous Beer Hall Putsch

The Trial of Adolf Hitler: The Beer Hall Putsch and the Rise of Nazi Germany
By David King
W.W. Norton & Co., 2017, 455 pp.

5 Stars

There’s been a lot in the news this past year about the attempted insurrection in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021. There was another foiled insurrection, in interwar Europe, ninety-nine years ago.

During one of our trips to Germany to visit our grandson, his other Oma and Opa took us on a car trip to Munich (about 250 miles from their village). As we were walking the streets of the city we entered into a plaza/square with a large, foreboding-looking memorial structure at one end. I asked Opa what the significance of the place was and he had no clue. After we returned to the States, I did some research and discovered the plaza in question was the Odeonsplatz and the memorial was the Feldherrnhalle (Field Marshals’ Hall, completed in 1844). I learned that Adolf Hitler’s failed Beer Hall Putsch on November 8-9, 1923 (an attempt to overthrow the Weimar German government) was crushed by Bavarian state police at the Odeonsplatz immediately next to the Feldherrnhalle. After Hitler was appointed chancellor in 1933, he transformed the Feldherrnhalle into a shrine to his 16 followers killed by police in the quelling of the putsch. The Odeonsplatz and Feldherrnhalle were subsequently used by Hitler and the Nazis in their rites, rituals, and ceremonies (e.g., Schutzstaffel-SS recruits were regularly sworn-in at a midnight ceremony at the site). Anyway, my curiosity was piqued regarding the Beer Hall Putsch and I finally got around to reading this excellent book about the aborted insurrection.

David King does an excellent job documenting the events leading up to the putsch (Swiss-German: “push, thrust, blow”) and describing the two-day rebellion and the subsequent arrest and trial of Hitler.

This was a fascinating read and I highly recommend it to history buffs and general readers. Some interesting information I picked up from the book:

  • Foreign news correspondents at the time derided Hitler for his seemingly clownish and laughable “beer hall putsch,” which commenced at the Bürgerbräukeller beer hall, two miles from the Odeonsplatz. Actually, Munich had several large beer halls, which were very acceptable venues in München (“home of the monks”) society for all types of gatherings. The Bürgerbräukeller was one of the largest beer halls in the city, seating 3000.
  • Some of the most infamous members of the subsequent Nazi regime participated in the 1923 putsch including Hermann Göring, Martin Bormann, Rudolph Hess, and Heinrich Himmler.
  • Hitler led 2000 of his followers on the two-mile march from the Bürgerbräukeller to the Odeonsplatz where they were met by only 130 state police. The narrowness of the Residenzstrasse leading into the plaza rendered the Nazi marchers sitting ducks.
  • The politically-conservative judges at the trial of the putsch insurrectionists were sympathetic to the Nazi cause. Hitler was sentenced to only five years in Landsberg prison (in the soft-time, celebrity section), but was released after only eight months. During that period he wrote Mein Kampf.
  • Although Hitler was initially depressed by the failure of the Beer Hall Putsch, his resolve was steeled by the enthusiastic support of his followers and admirers.

Postscript: Hitler exploited the anguish of the German people. The Weimar Republic was collapsing economically under the heavy restrictions imposed by the victorious Entente/Allied powers. The German people were desperate and turned to political extremists on the Right and on the Left for deliverance. Adolf Hitler and his willing followers exemplify the sinful depravity of mankind. Hitler was raised Catholic by his “devoutly Catholic” German-Austrian mother, but was later influenced by his atheist father. Biographer, Fritz Redich, wrote, “In his childhood, Hitler was enthralled by the pomp and ritual of the Catholic Church. Allegedly, for a while he even considered becoming a priest.” Hitler lost interest in Catholicism in his teen years and had no involvement with the RCC as an adult (although he did sign a secret treaty with pope Pius XII in 1939, see here).

Above: The imposing Feldherrnhalle monument sits at the southern end of the Odeonsplatz plaza. Hitler and his 2000 followers marched up the narrow Residenzstrasse street, to the left of the Feldherrnhalle, where they were met by a small phalanx of state police. The Feldherrnhalle was stripped of all of its Nazi regalia by the occupying American forces.
Above: Twenty-years after the Beer Hall Putsch, Schutzstaffel-SS recruits stand at attention while swearing absolute allegiance to Adolf Hitler in a midnight ceremony in front of the Feldherrnhalle.
Above: A painting showing Adolf Hitler leading his 2000 followers towards the Odeonsplatz where they were fired upon by the state police. The Feldherrnhalle is to the right.

American Warsaw?

American Warsaw: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of Polish Chicago
By Dominic A. Pacyga
University of Chicago Press, 2021, 329 pp.

5 Stars

This book is a fascinating history of the large Polish diaspora in Chicago, Illinois. Polish immigrants came to the city in droves as part of the Za Chlebem “for bread” migration in the years 1860-1918. These immigrants of partitioned Poland were mainly poor peasant stock seeking better opportunities in the United States. They were attracted to Chicago because the city was a growing industrial center that required many low-skill, manual laborers. Next to Warsaw, Chicago would eventually become home to the world’s second largest Polish population.

The Catholic church, the repository of Polish nationalism in partitioned Poland, played a leading role in the establishment of Polish immigrant neighborhoods. Tensions arose as Poles challenged the dominance of Irish Americans in the American Catholic hierarchy, leading to the splinter Polish National Catholic church and the rivalry between the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America and the more secular Polish National Alliance fraternals. Many Poles intended to return to their homeland if Poland were ever re-established as a nation (that happened in 1918), but those dreams faded over time. The relationship between the Chicago Polish diaspora and Poland, with its struggle for independence and subsequent trials and tribulations under Nazi and Soviet domination, is a fascinating story.

Subsequent waves of Polish migration to the city occurred following World War II and during the Solidarność (Solidarity) opposition to the Soviet Polish government, 1980-1989. There were often tensions between the new arrivals and the Americanized Poles over Polskość (Polishness) or who is really Polish?

Following World War II, returning Polish American vets and their families began moving out of the city to the suburbs. Some Polish institutions remain within the city proper, but many of the old Polish neighborhoods with their modest houses are now home to African Americans and Hispanics. In Greater Chicago, generational assimilation continues to grind away at Polish ethnic identification.

“American Warsaw: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of Polish Chicago” is a thoroughly enjoyable read for Polish Americans and for others interested in the history of immigration to the United States. This book would have been even better if the author had given some focus to a particular Za Chlebem immigrant family or two and their generational journey through assimilation and acculturation.

Postscript: Roman Catholicism is so interconnected with Polskość (Polishness) that a Pole who is not Catholic, like myself, is considered by many to not be a “true Pole.” For a believer, while our ethnic, racial, or national identity can be a positive and enjoyable aspect of who we are, it’s (very) subordinate to our identity in Jesus Christ.

Postscript 2: While reading this book, I could not help but think of the millions of Ukrainian refugees currently fleeing Putin’s genocide. Local news has reported that a few of the refugees have already made their way to the Ukrainian diaspora community here in Rochester.

The Twilight Zone: The hazy divide between reality and the supernatural?

Stories from the Twilight Zone
By Rod Serling
Bantam Pathfinder, 1970 (22nd printing), 151 pp.

3 Stars

The Twilight Zone was a successful television series, which ran five seasons on CBS from 1959 to 1964. Rod Serling (many mistakenly thought his name was “Sterling”) served as executive producer and head writer. The stories always involved some type of bizarre supernatural circumstance that put the characters in a tense quandary. I remember watching the show as a young child and being creeped out and fascinated at the same time. Sixty-years later, Twilight Zone reruns still play on cable television and via streaming.

I bought and read this book as a thirteen-year-old and recently purchased a slightly dog-eared used copy from an Amazon third-party used bookseller as a lark. It presents five Twilight Zone episodes from the early years of the show in short-story format:

  • The Mighty Casey – A robot pitcher turns the cellar-dwelling Brooklyn Dodgers into a contender.
  • Escape Clause – Hypochondriac, Walter Bedeker, makes a deal with the devil to gain near-immortality, but immediately regrets it.
  • Walking Distance – A stressed-out, Madison Avenue advertising executive travels back in time to his idyllic childhood hometown, but gradually realizes you can’t go home again.
  • The Fever – A male version of the “uptight church lady” catches gambling fever in Las Vegas and becomes completely unhinged.
  • Where Is Everybody? – An Air Force sergeant is part of an isolation experiment and nearly loses his mind, or were his “imagined” experiences real?
  • The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street – Neighbors suspect an alien invasion and gradually succumb to paranoia, turning against each other.

Science fiction was at its peak in the early-1960s. People were trying to make sense of life in a culture where technology was rapidly advancing. It was all part of an empty search for “spiritual meaning” outside of God’s Word and Jesus Christ. People are still fascinated with the “paranormal” and “supernatural,” but scoff at true spirituality in Christ. The search for genuine spirituality begins with trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone. The closer a Christian walks with the Lord, the more the spiritual/eternal overtakes the natural/temporal.

The Twilight Zone joins my small collection of books that sat on my bookshelf when I was a kid in 1970: CIA – The Inside Story, Bump and Run (San Diego Chargers football), The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (fiction), Arundel and Rabble in Arms (both Am Rev historical fiction), Uncle Tom’s Cabin (my grandfather’s copy), First NFL-AFL Illustrated Digest, We Came of Age (AFL football), and The Other League (AFL football).

“Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes #2″

Last month, the re-formed, future-state Legion tracked down former-member, Element Lad, who was apparently responsible for raining-down destruction and chaos upon the entire galaxy. Let’s pick up the action in…

Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes #2 [of 2]
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Pencils and Inks: Riley Rossmo, Colors: Ivan Plascencia
DC Comics, February 23, 2021

3 Stars


A large contingent of Legionnaires, including Blok, Bouncing Boy, Brainiac 7, Chameleon Lad, Colossal Boy, Duo Damsel, Ferro Lad, Lightning Lass, Monster Boy, Saturn Girl, Shadow Lass, Shrinking Violet, Superboy, and Ultra Boy, arrives on Trom and captures Jan Arrah/Element Lad. Saturn Girl examines Arrah with her telepathic powers (as Brainiac 7, Gold Lantern, and Ultra Boy look on) and discovers that he was not responsible for the galactic onslaught after all. She sends Chameleon Boy to Daxam to persuade a bitter Cosmic Boy to return to New Earth to learn the truth and to lead the Legion in “avenging the entire galaxy.” With Cosmic Boy present, Imra reveals what she had discovered. The elders of Titan, Imra’s home planet (actually a moon of Saturn), used her to infiltrate the Legion and to eventually manipulate Element Lad and his fellow Tromites into attacking the entire United Planets. Their motive? The Titians viewed the galaxy’s other inhabitants as “impure of thought” and radically inferior.

Saturn Girl returns to Titan to inform her mother that the moon has been removed from its position in the galaxy and “encased in a prison sphere for the rest of time” as punishment. After returning to New Earth, Saturn Girl and the other Legionnaires resolve to continue the Legion and “make a new normal where all feel protected and safe.”


This Legion Future State two-issue series was a semi-entertaining ride, with Element Lad starting out as the bad guy, but ending up being merely a puppet of the malevolent Titians. A decent twist, but overall, this series was not compelling reading with far too much plot awkwardly squeezed into forty-four pages. Writer Bendis had previously hinted at a surprising development involving Jon Kent that never materialized. To go along with the ungainly storyline, Riley Rossmo’s pencils are nowhere near the caliber of those of regular LSH artist, Ryan Sook.

Many have conjectured that this Future State series would be the Legion’s last gasp, although Bendis promises more (see here). The reality is there’s no sign of the Legion in DC’s March, April, or, just checked, May solicitations. In DC’s frazzled state, it’s difficult to imagine the LSH franchise being resurrected after such a lengthy hiatus.

Postscript A: The Legion of Super-Heroes is supposed to be a team of 31st Century, crime-fighting TEENAGERS with unusual powers, however, following the Silver Age era, writers and artists tended to portray the characters as being much older. In this issue, Rossmo presents Cosmic “Boy” as bigger and thicker than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Jon “Superboy” Kent has a Zorro-like, manicured mustache. Ridiculous.

Postscript B: Uh-oh. The day after I wrote the above, I stumbled upon a review of “Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman #2,” which describes how the entire Future State Legion was wiped out by something called, “the Undoing.” Of course, the end of the Future State Legion doesn’t mean Bendis & Co. couldn’t continue with tales from the pre-Future State Legion.

These Truths?

These Truths: A History of the United States
Jill Lepore
W.W. Norton & Company, 2018, 933 pp.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. – from The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

I’m a bit of a history buff and I’ve read a good number of history books over the decades. Histories of the United States tended toward heavily-varnished hagiography with men like Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, and Lincoln reverenced in almost-religious terms. Of course, those men were products of their times. Jefferson could write the above words with the widely-understood qualification that Native American “Indians,” Blacks, and women did not share in “these truths.” The hypocrisy and inconsistency are glaring from our vantage point today, but also consider that only eighty-years ago, millions of American G.I.s were sent to Europe to defend the world from Nazi tyranny and persecution at the same time that Black Americans in the South lived under the tyranny of Jim Crow.

Harvard professor, Jill Lepore, wrote “These Truths” partially from the perspective of the oppressed and disenfranchised and some might dismiss it as a “woke” version of U.S. history. However, the book is necessary because most hagiographical U.S. histories of the past neglected or skimmed over the stories of the oppressed, voiceless, marginalized groups. Lepore isn’t shrill and angry (as I recently encountered with Kristin Kobes Du Mez in her critique of American Christian Nationalism, “Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation,” see here), but presents the material in a “mostly” objective manner that’s worthy of consideration. Lepore’s last several chapters that examine the increasing polarization of American society along the Red vs. Blue divide are informative and very well done.

Because of its size, “These Truths” was a major effort to get through and it occupied much more of my reading time than I like to devote to a single book. It deserves a longer review, but my time is more limited these days. A couple of closing thoughts:

  • Washington, Jefferson, et al, were certainly fallible men and products of their times. I imagine that if Lepore had been brought up in the Antebellum South of the 1840s and 1850s there would have been an extremely good chance that she would have aligned with the societal mores of the region and times as well.
  • The conflation of faith and nationalism has been the predominant paradigm among Christians living in America since the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth in 1620. Deconstructionist examinations of U.S. history are not well-received by many. But great wrongs were done and deserve examination. Christians know from God’s Word that all men are sinners and there’s abundant evidence of that in America’s unvarnished history. Deist Thomas Jefferson’s “truths” were laudable, although certainly not applied fairly. However, Christians know of the infinitely greater Truths of Jesus Christ and the Gospel that are not restricted by national boundaries, times, or societal mores. Jefferson is memorialized in a manner that approaches idolatry, but he was a spiritually lost soul who aligned himself with humanistic “enlightenment” (including some glaring inconsistencies as a slaveowner) rather than with Jesus Christ and the Gospel.

“Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes #1″ (and some possible good news)

No, my friends, I’m NOT turning this blog into the Legion of Super-Heroes frivolity blog. Yes, I realize I reviewed LSH #12 only last week, but there’s a good reason for this latest installment. DC Comics just launched its three-month-long, “Future State” reconfiguration with this two-part LSH tie-in. It’s been rumored that several titles won’t emerge from Future State intact, including the Legion of Super-Heroes, which just completed a one-year, twelve-issue relaunch. With that in mind, let’s go ahead and see what DC and Bendis have in mind for what many (including myself) thought might be the Legion’s final tale.

Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes #1 [of 2]
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Pencils and Inks: Riley Rossmo, Colors: Ivan Plascencia
DC Comics, January 26th, 2021


At some indeterminate point in the 31st Century following the events described in LSH #12, former Legion leader, Ultra Boy, arrives on Planet Gotham to rendezvous with Shadow Lass, Saturn Girl, Brainiac 7, and Colossal Boy. We learn that the Legion had previously disbanded and that the United Planets are in almost total chaos. On Planet Daxam, the only remaining U.P. stronghold, Chameleon Boy is brought before a council comprised of former Legionnaires Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lass, Mon-El, Polar Boy (see postscript below), Princess Projectra, Shrinking Violet, Star Boy, Superboy, Sun Boy, and Timber Wolf in an effort to ascertain the whereabouts of Jan Arrah, the former Legionnaire, Element Lad, who is responsible for an “incident”/”event” that precipitated the current crisis. On Planet Winath, a group of newly-empowered beings (who refer to the previous cataclysm as the “elemental rapture”) bands together as a pseudo, rogue Legion to exploit the chaos and also oppose Arrah and the crippled U.P., but are thwarted by the former Triplicate Girl (one of her identities was killed in the crisis) who is searching for Element Lad. She is joined by Blok who is on a similar mission. Brainiac 7 invites the duo/trio to join the reconstituted Legion and capture Arrah and also recruits a reluctant Bouncing Boy. On one of Planet Trom’s moons, Arrah interrogates his prisoner, Lightning Lad, who had attempted to kill the traitorous ex-Legionnaire. The proceedings are suddenly interrupted by Lightning Lass along with a contingent of Legionnaires including Blok, Bouncing Boy, Brainiac 7, Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Duo Damsel, Ferro Lad, (see postscript below), Monster Boy, Saturn Girl, Shadow Lass, Superboy, and Timber Wolf. Argh! We must wait one month for the results of this showdown!


Bendis doesn’t provide a lot of information about the cataclysmic attack upon the galaxy and the Legion orchestrated by the traitorous Jan Arrah. I’m expecting more details in “Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes #2 [of 2].” All of the Legionnaires are presented in different permutations including alternate uniforms and different physical characteristics, with a reconstituted Brainiac 5/7 being the most radical. Rossmo’s pencils are nowhere near the caliber of regular LSH artist, Ryan Sook. A redesigned Superboy stays noticeably in the background in this book. I counted a few Legionnaires in the mix who I could not identify. Silver Age Legion fans will note that the death of one of the triplicates hearkens back to similar grim circumstances in “Computo the Conquerer” in Adventure Comics #340 (January 1966). It was sad to read the first issue of this two-part Future State series knowing DC is probably going to pull the plug on the Legion following the second installment.


After writing the above, I came across a very recent interview with LSH writer, Brian Michael Bendis, in which he reveals some of the unidentifiable characters in this issue as being members of the Legion of Substitute Heroes and that the black-suited character on the cover with a laser sword is Ferro Lad. Okay. I had thought the character on page 8 in silver and red was Ferro Lad when it’s actually Polar Boy of the Subs. The writer hints that Superboy will play more of a major role in issue #2. To my great surprise, Bendis also reveals that DC definitely plans on continuing the Legion at some point after Future State despite the title’s notable absence in the publisher’s April solicitations. See the interview here.

Legion of Super-Heroes #12

It’s time once again for our monthly, LSH frivolity break (in fact, we’re three weeks past due because of DC’s ongoing publishing issues), so let’s climb aboard our time cube and travel to the 31st Century for another LSH adventure in…

Legion of Super-Heroes #12:
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Pencils: Ryan Sook, Inks: Ryan Sook and Wade Von Grawbadger, Colors: Jordie Bellaire
DC Comics, January 19, 2021


At the end of LSH #11, Superboy and Saturn Girl arrived on New Krypton and confronted planet-destroyer, Rogol Zaar, as all of the other Legionnaires lay strewn about on the battlefield, bloodied and vanquished. As we pick up the action in #12, Superboy engages Rogol Zaar, but he too is subdued. Saturn Girl uses her mind powers to “psychically wake” the entire battered Legion corps, who then engage Rogol Zaar. Just as the Legion appears to be gaining the upper hand, Mordru the Sorcerer appears along with a large contingent of Horraz pirates and a full-scale battle ensues with multiple vignettes highlighting individual Legionnaires and their unique powers. The combined forces of Rogol Zaar and Mordru prove too much for the heroes and defeat looms. Mon-El suddenly appears, returning from his self-imposed exile, to buy the Legion a little more time. Saturn Girl, Dream Girl, and White Witch then confront Mordru with their combined powers, but the showdown is interrupted by Dr. Fate who easily subdues the evil sorcerer. A defeated Rogol Zaar is then returned to the Phantom Zone. As Element Lad leads the effort to rebuild New Krypton, a few Legionnaires ponder whether the preceding battle was the “Great Darkness” that had been foretold and conclude that was not the case. Gold Lantern returns to Earth to retrieve Brainiac 5 for the victory celebration, only to learn that his ring is NOT a Green Lantern ring (gasp!) and that those who issued it to him are not elders of Oa (double gasp!).


Writer Bendis did a nice job with this showdown between the Legion and Rogol Zaar and Mordru and he tied up some dangling loose ends with the return of Mon-El, Dr. Fate, and Blok. Ryan Sook’s pencils are top-notch as usual. The entire 34-person Legion roster was included in this issue with appearances by Bouncing Boy, Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy, Dawn Star, Ferro Lad, Invisible Kid, Karate Kid, Lightning Lad, Lightning Lass, Matter-Eater Lad, Monster Boy, Phantom Girl, Princess Projectra, Rose Forrest, Shadow Lass, Shrinking Violet, Star Boy, Sun Boy, Timber Wolf, Triplicate Girl, Ultra Boy, and Wild Fire. The as-of-yet-unidentified-skeleton-in-a-containment-suit character was also present. The fact that Bendis has not identified this anonymous hero after twelve issues must be his idea of an insider joke.

Well, folks, this issue wraps up the first year of the Legion’s comeback. My hat is off to DC and the creative team of Bendis, Sook, Von Grawbadger, and Bellaire for a very entertaining ride. There was some speculation on the web that DC was pulling the plug on the LSH after this issue, however, a full-page “Future State Checklist” at the end of this book lists “Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes #1 [of 2]” on sale, tomorrow, January 26th and “Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes #2 [of 2]” on sale February 23rd. That doesn’t necessarily guarantee that DC will be continuing the LSH franchise after “Future State.” No titles are safe given the publisher’s severe financial troubles except for its flagship Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman franchises.

Jesus and John Wayne?

Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation
By Kristin Kobes Du Mez
Liveright Publishing, 2020, 356 pp.

2 Stars

Readers of this blog know I’m not a supporter of the still-popular “America the Christian Nation” paradigm. The conflation of faith and fervent nationalism by American Christians has led to a multitude of wrong turns, errors, and abuses ever since the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth in 1620.

The unusual title of this book caught my attention, so I borrowed a copy from the library. The author documents the preliminary origins and rise of militant Falwellian Christian nationalism in the 1970s, which has continued in various permutations into the Trump presidency. Where does Hollywood actor, John Wayne,* fit in? The author posits that post-WWII-era Christians substituted Wayne, or rather the über-masculine and nationalistic ethos that the actor symbolized, for Jesus Christ and the genuine Gospel. The main propagators of Christian nationalism receive plenty of mention, including Pat Buchanan, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell Sr., Jerry Falwell Jr., Bill Gothard, Billy Graham, Franklin Graham, Robert Jeffress, D. James Kennedy, Al Mohler, Oliver North, Tony Perkins, Doug Phillips, Pat Robertson, Rousas Rushdoony, Phyllis Schlafly, and Doug Wilson, among others.

The author, Kristin Kobes Du Mez, a professor of history at Calvin University** (Grand Rapids, MI) and a self-described “Christian feminist,” is at the opposite end of the spectrum of the Christian nationalists she critiques. Throughout the entire book, the reader must endure her shrill rants against “white patriarchalism.” I’m definitely not a supporter of Christian nationalism or inflated machismo, but Kobes Du Mez also frequently takes aim at doctrines that are basic to Biblical Christianity. According to her view, evangelical Christian nationalists are also misguided because they preach against homosexuality, desire to evangelize Muslims, and believe the Bible is the inspired and inerrant Word of God.

I would have awarded this book only 1-star due to its theological heterodoxy, however I bumped it up to two stars because I did appreciate the author’s critical examination of the history of Falwellian Christian nationalism. Evangelical scholars are not apt to tackle this subject material either because (A) they’re sympathetic to Christian nationalism themselves or (B) they don’t want to alienate the bulk of American Christians who still hold to that paradigm in some form or fashion. However, the author’s own ax grinding on behalf Christian feminism and theological liberalism draws its own abundant criticisms.

I’ll be focusing on a very recent example of misguided Christian nationalism in the upcoming Weekend Roundup.

*John Wayne was a nominal Presbyterian before “converting” to Roman Catholicism two days before his death.

**Christian parents send their teens off to some “Christian” colleges such as Calvin University mistakenly assuming the faculty believes and teaches Biblical orthodoxy.

An Unlikely Spy

A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II
By Sonia Purnell
Viking, 2019, 352 pp.

Just about everybody loves a good spy story, right? What can be more dangerous and nerve-racking than someone going “incognito” behind enemy lines to obtain intelligence and/or wreak havoc? This book recounts the exploits of Virginia Hall, one of the most improbably effective Allied spies of World War II.

In 1931, at the age of twenty-five, Parkton, Maryland native, Virginia Hall, entered into service at the State Department, holding various lower-level positions, but desiring a post in the diplomatic corps. She lost a lower-leg from complications due to a hunting accident while on assignment in Turkey. When Nazi Germany invaded France in 1940, Virginia desired to assist in the war effort and volunteered with the United Kingdom’s Special Operations Executive (SOE), the clandestine organization created to gather intelligence and to assist and direct resistance groups within France and other occupied territories

In 1941, Virginia was assigned to the city of Lyons in the unoccupied Vichy zone, where she developed an effective resistance network. Virginia encountered much push-back from French resistance operatives because of her gender, but she overcame misgivings through her intelligence and steely resolve. With Virginia’s help, the Lyons-area underground constantly harassed the Vichy quislings and German forces. At one point, Virginia even orchestrated the bold escape of twelve Maquis/resistance fighters from a Vichy prison.

As a defensive response to the Allied invasion of Northern Africa in November, 1942, the German military forces flooded into previously-unoccupied Vichy, and the Gestapo and Abwehr (German military intelligence) were on the hunt for the female they were convinced coordinated the resistance forces in the region. Gestapo officer, Klaus Barbie, the infamous “Butcher of Lyons,” was hot on Virginia’s trail. She barely escaped by walking 50 miles on her artificial lower-leg prosthesis, dubbed “Cuthbert,” through the Pyrenees Mountains to “neutral” Spain.

Because the Germans had come so close to apprehending Virginia, the Brits were reluctant to send her back to France, despite her pleas, so she signed up with the newly-formed U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Her most notable assignment was in the mountainous Haute-Loire region in south-central France where she coordinated resistance/espionage efforts in 1944.

Following the war, Virginia joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1947, but was largely relegated to mid-level desk jobs despite her impressive war-time resumé. She retired in 1966 and died in 1982. Virginia’s outstanding service was recognized posthumously by France, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Where the tire meets the road: The spy game is highly romanticized in fictional books and films (e.g., James Bond, Agent 007), but the author reveals that Virginia and other agents battled the overwhelming and unrelenting anxiety involved with their duties with the regular use of sedatives and alcohol.

Postscript: In reading this book, I was struck by the dedication and sacrifice of Virginia Hall and others of that era to the cause of temporal political liberty. Are we believers as dedicated to the cause of Jesus Christ and His eternal Kingdom?

Legion of Super-Heroes #10

It’s time for our monthly, LSH frivolity break, so let’s climb aboard our time cube once again and travel to the 31st Century for another LSH adventure in…

Legion of Super-Heroes #10: First Kiss
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Pencils: Ryan Sook, Inks: Wade Von Grawbadger, Colors: Jordie Bellaire
DC Comics, October 27, 2020

5 Stars


Via vignettes on various planets, we see the Legion pick up the pieces after its long “Aquaman Trident” saga and the subsequent trial before the United Planets Council:

  • On Gotham Planet, Superboy and Saturn Girl become better acquainted while on a date and discuss the escape of Mordru with GP Police Commissioner, Sevenbergen. Dr. Fate is summoned and he determines Mordru is on the planet, Xanthu.
  • Gold Lantern, Brainiac 5, and Blok deliver prisoner, Crav the General Nah, to the Elders of Oa and we hear discussion once again of a looming Great Darkness.
  • The Legion contingent of Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Karate Kid, Phantom Girl, Shadow Lass, and Wildfire arrive on New Krypton in search of Mon-El and are greeted by Zod who takes them to their teammate. After the contingent learns from Mon-El that he has three daughters, he beats an angry retreat when he finds out his rival, Superboy, is still a member of the Legion.
  • Ultra Boy leads a team of Legionnaires (Bouncing Boy, Dawnstar, Lightning Lad, Monster Boy, and Timber Wolf) to Rimbor in an attempt to return his home world back to normalcy, only to be chosen as leader of the planet.
  • Back in Metropolis on Earth, Brainiac 5 attempts to encourage reluctant Legionnaire, Lightning Lass, to remain on the team.
  • On Xanthu, Mordru the fugitive meets up with…uh-oh…(gulp)…planet destroyer, Rogal Zaar!


Writer Bendis does a nice job of intermixing the various sub-plots in the march towards the ominous Great Darkness. Knowledgeable DC fans will appreciate all the ramifications and tie-ins involved with a 31st-Century New Krypton much more than I can. It’s a bit disconcerting to learn teenager Mon-El already has three children! Say what?!?!?! While it’s entertaining to see Bendis introduce new twists to the Legion’s lore, that’s definitely an over-step. I’m already looking forward to issue #11. The deadly tag-team of Mordru and Rogal Zaar will present a serious challenge for the Legion in the immediate future.

I enjoyed Bendis’ usual snappy dialogue and after the revolving-door, guest artistry of issues #s 8 & 9, it’s great to once again settle back and savor the masterful pencils and pens of the Legion’s regular artists, Sook and Von Grawbadger.