Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Catholic Book Club: Church of Spies, chapters 6 - Epilogue

Happy book club Wednesday everyone! I hope that you are feeling bright eyed and bushy tailed this midweek day. I wouldn't say that I am particularly, ;-) but I am hanging in there!

I've been doing a LOT of reading lately. Well, I'm still not exactly moving at the speed of sound, but I am trying. This is a summer for reading, to be sure! I finished Church of Spies last week, and am working on the Late Summer Book Club now, as well as a few other books that I'll talk about soon (dystopian YA with a Catholic twist, oooooo).

I like how we've been breaking up and staggering the book club this spring/summer. I suggest we do this again in the fall, yay! More on that to come.

So, the last we spoke about Church of Spies, we had embarked on the first five chapters. Up to that point, I was having a bit of difficulty following along with names, and feeling like some of the content was quite shocking in such a way that it almost felt unreal (though of course I know that it isn't!). Then, on I dove into chapter 6 and beyond.

The book moved MUCH faster for me at this point, and I started to at least be able to associate which side, if you will, each of the names were a part of. That really helped me to be able to follow along with the action. Eventually, we got to events leading up to the 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler, and then the story became somewhat more familiar to me, since I had heard about that when the movie Valkyrie came out eight years ago. So much of what happened in WWII has that sense of surrealness to it, because it was so incredibly disturbing. Having that tie-in to the events of 1944, along with some previous knowledge, helped to really drive home for me what the Pope (and so many others) were involved in back then with the German Resistance.

Evil was so very manifest at that time, and one person was spearheading so much of it. Eliminating him would alleviate the suffering and death of so many.

And goodness, the poignancy of some of the stories. The mother who lost her two children for propagating anti-Nazi materials. The torture and death of many of the men involved in the plots to oust Hitler. The knowledge of what was happening in concentration camps nearby this whole time. It was hard to read. It is the reason I have never seen Schindler's List, though truly, I I need to toughen up. It is SO IMPORTANT to remember and keep at the forefront the suffering of our fellow human beings during this time period. The pain that I feel in seeing that suffering relayed inspires a passion in me to do whatever I can to help others, no matter how small an act it may be.

When I finished, I thought to myself how glad I was that I read this book. I found the beginning a bit difficult to follow, but that improved, and in the end the story is so incredibly important. I was on pins and needles to see what happened to all of the players in the plot from the Pope's circle.

What did you think? I would LOVE to hear your thoughts in the comments! Let's definitely do this again, yes? I'll put up a poll sometime in August, and we'll vote on something to read during the fall. What are you in the mood for, in terms of options? More non-fiction? A jump over to fiction? If so, what sub-genre? Romance, historical, contemporary, suspense? Please chime in with your thoughts!


  1. Never seen Schindler's List?!! I taped it from television when they had it on for some commemoration thingy back in the day including the periodic warnings about it being disturbing and unsuitable for children.

    I'm a little obsessed about Holocaust history. I assume you were talking about the White Rose (mother with two college students). There's a made-for-tv movie about them. Very big deal.

    I think maybe my obsession is the fact that I'm part Polish and so some of my extended family members were there at the time. The Nazi's pretty much had it out for anyone of Slav descent sending mass numbers to the concentration camps. There were a number of Pols who realized that Hitler had it out for their country men and despite the danger hid Jews.

    It's also important to understand this stuff because it repeats itself. Hitler didn't suddenly come into power over night. He was able to feed off people's biases and quash descent. This is something we should all rally against here in our own country and abroad. Sadly I see that anti-Catholic bias- the kind the Know-Nothing Party would be proud of- is rearing it's head. I am most disturbed that the Supreme Court refused to even hear the pharmacists' case from Washington State. Very ominous. All the more important in an election year to pay attention to these type bias things and to watch how the politicians and the public respond. Hitler was elected before he destroyed the German government.

    This is probably why I like Star Wars too. I believe Lucas used elements in the overall plot from the rise of Nazism and Ancient Roman history. And the book was also interesting. I had no idea that the Pope knew and planned as much as he did.

  2. I'm about 70 pages from the end. The book was interesting and I'm glad we read it. It is something I would not have read without encouragement. On the one hand it is inspiring to read about people taking a stand for good in the face of evil and certain torture and death if caught. On the other hand it can be distressing to read about that.

    I'd like to read another book with the Catholic Librarian community but I vote for something more light hearted this time.

    On a related note, this weekend I visited the Vatican Splendors exhibit at the Reagan Library. It was fabulous. There were a few things there from the excavations of St. Peter's tomb. It reminded me of the book club since Church of Spies talked about meetings taking place near where the excavations were happening at one point.

  3. Delta, thank you SO much for sending in your comments! I agree with you 100% about history repeating itself. That's why it is so incredibly crucial for books and films like these to be made, and for us and our children to see them, despite the pain it causes to watch. Henry watched the episode of "Band of Brothers" with Mike in which they liberate a concentration camp, and it really packs a punch.

    It makes perfect sense for you to be so passionate about this given your heritage. Thank you again for sharing this with us! <3

  4. Melanie, thanks so much for reading along and commenting, gal! I had the same exact thoughts as you. It was a heavier read than I would pick for myself, but I'm really glad we read it. For the fall, we'll likely be choosing between fiction and non-fiction that is focused on spirituality. What do you think?

  5. I like the idea of spirituality focused books for the fall book club. I thought Love & Salt from the Planned Not Scripted book club voting sounded really interesting. Perhaps it could be a fall option.

  6. Melanie, oooooooo, I LOVE that idea! I'll include Love and Salt! I know Cristina was really rooting for that one!


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