Fall Issue 12
Meditation on Snow in The Census at Bethlehem
By Jolene Nolte
Looking at Pieter Brueghel the Elder’s The Census at Bethlehem, the snow first caught my attention. (See image above.) There is something luminous about the snow. It creates contrast, sets the tall, bare trees into relief as well as the darkly dressed people bearing their loads and setting about their business. In places, it is dark, and in the foreground it bears the stain of dirt and animal droppings. Towards the center and on the barrels, however, it is pristine and carries the light. Observing that first brought my attention to Mary and Joseph.
Snow both reflects the light and is pure, but it is also easily sullied. There are many Christological resonances with the snow—white as lamb’s wool but also has connotations of death and hardship. It serves the purpose of translating the scene to Brueghel’s Flemish context. It binds the scene together, and whether it’s the holy family, the leper, or the children, it is common to everyone. Jesus does not enter the world apart from its simultaneous beauty and hardship but is right there, unobtrusively in the midst of it.
Righteous Legacy, Part 6
By Peter Cheung
Righteous Legacy is my attempt to tell the story of Dr. Ho Feng-shan, better known as the Chinese Schindler, on stage. Last week, two Gestapo officers took Mr. Roseuburg away for questioning. Mrs. Roseuburg called Dr. Ho for help. Written during Advent and Hanukkah 2018.
11 | Shanghai
Shan walks to the area outside of the house, knocks on the door. Mrs. Roseuburg opens the broken door.
SHAN: What happened?
MRS. ROSEUBURG: They came, I think they want to kick us out of here, we were packing to leave Germany anyways. Then they started to threaten us!
SHAN: Do you think your husband is in danger?
MRS. ROSEUBURG: I don’t know . . .
MAIDSERVANT: Well, some of local Nazi supporters work for Mr. Roseuburg. He treats his staff with kindness, so maybe they will be kind to him in return this time? I think he will be back after they question him.
MRS. ROSEUBURG: I am still concerned about those Gestapo officers, though . . . Dr. Ho, may I get you some tea?
SHAN: Thank you, if you don’t mind. Well then, let’s wait for his return. (Shan sits, Mrs. Roseuburg exits to kitchen, maidservant resumes packing.)
Lights fade out. Two persons walk toward the house. They ring the bell.
MAIDSERVANT: (still in the dark) Maybe it’s him! (Opens the door) God bless you!
Lights on, revealing the two Gestapo officers.
GESTAPO OFFICER 2: God? What God? Heil Hitler! (Gestapo Officer 1 follows suit). I told you someone else is here other than that Jew we dropped off earlier!
MRS. ROSEUBURG: Good day, officers. I didn’t have a chance to greet you earlier. Is there something you want? May I get you some tea?
GESTAPO OFFICER 2: We are here to inspect the place, again!
Shan is still sitting in the living room, thinking how to deal with the two Gestapo officers. Officer 1 spots him.
OFFICER 1: Who are you?
SHAN: A friend of this house’s owner, I am here to visit him.
OFFICER 1: Show me your identification.
SHAN: Sure. But, who exactly are you? Please first show me your identification.
Gestapo Officer 1 is angered, staring at Shan, sizing him. Officer 2 puts his hand into his pocket, as if he is planning to draw his gun to threatening Shan. Shan notices this but still keeps his calm.
OFFICER 1: Who – are – you?
SHAN: I have told you, and you can easily find out who I am, but the proper process is that you must first identify who you are!
The Gestapo officers sense that Shan is someone with a background; they decide to switch their approach.
OFFICER 1: Our Führer said you foreigners should have no privileges in Germany. Don’t act so cocky when you are no one special!
OFFICER 2: That’s right. You foreigners are nothing in our country. Our leader will soon have you kicked out!
Shan continues to sit calmly. The Gestapo officers recognize that provoking doesn’t work either.
OFFICER 1: Let’s go. No point staying here.
They leave the house. Mrs. Roseuburg approaches the door to close it.
OFFICER 2: You! Who on earth is that man?
MRS. ROSEUBURG: Sir, that’s the consulate general from the Republic of China.
OFFICER 2: What the! Why didn’t you say that earlier! (Slams the door, hard)
The Gestapo officers exit.
MRS. ROSEUBURG: Thank you, Dr. Ho.
SHAN: It’s nothing. I think with that your husband can return soon. You should prepare to leave the country as soon as possible. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do for you.
MRS. ROSEUBURG: Dr. Ho, do you know the diplomats from the United States? My husband and I want to go there, but even though we want to leave Europe, and he even works for a big American company, they don’t want to receive us because we are Jews! Maybe you can get their diplomats to help us? Without a visa, at this rate, we can’t even leave the country!
SHAN: I am sorry about your situation. Not too long ago, at the Evian conference, the United States asked the whole world to accept more Jewish refugees, but other than the Dominican Republic, no one eased their restrictions on immigration. Not even the United States themselves.
MRS. ROSEUBURG: What about China?
SHAN: We didn’t ease our restrictions either, but, as always, anyone can come to Shanghai. I shall get you there.
MRS. ROSEUBURG: Anyone?
12 | Visa for Life
Christmas 1938. At the new, smaller site of the Republic of China Consulate. Shan is working at his desk with piles of paper everywhere.
Mr. Roseuburg enters.
SHAN: Mr. Roseuburg!
MR. ROSEUBURG: Oh, Dr. Ho! How are you? How’s work at the consulate?
SHAN: Well (helps Mr. Roseuburg to recognize the piles of paper), thank you. I guess everyone is off now, but not myself. It’s an important time, after all, difficult, but every visa counts.
MR. ROSEUBURG: Thank you.
SHAN: I pray that the Almighty blesses your people in your struggle, just as I pray for mine.
MR. ROSEUBURG: (Nods) I appreciate your prayers, Dr. Ho.
SHAN: Welcome. And of course, I have these for you and your family (opens drawer, takes out two visas, hands them to Mr. Roseuburg). Technically, you don’t need a visa to go to Shanghai. But with these, you should be able to leave Austria.
MR. ROSEUBURG: (receives the visas) Thank you. You heading home to celebrate tonight?
SHAN: Well, yes. But I will make one more batch of these visas first. Each person should have one.
MR. ROSEUBURG: Dr. Ho, we Jews are celebrating tonight. It’s the last day of the Hanukkah.
SHAN: I see. I understand that is the Festival of Lights.
MR. ROSEUBURG: Indeed. And we will leave after the sun goes down. Dr. Ho, thank you again, I want to say goodbye. And I wish you and your family… Merry Christmas. (offers to shake hands)
SHAN: (shake hands with Roseuburg) Merry Christmas.
How to Get the Most out of Your Bus Experience
By Lorna Taylor
Cold. Rain. Wind. Brisk walk. Umbrella. Upside down umbrella. Right way round umbrella. No. 4. Run. Tupperware in hand. Must put umbrella down. Must get bus card out. Tupperware between the knees. Umbrella between the chin and shoulder. Card. Success. Fold up umbrella. Grab Tupperware. Einsteigen.* Swipe the phone. Phone away. Success. Winning! En vor en toe.* Not holding on. Bump. Sippy-cup goes flying. Cramped bus. Dafydd to the rescue. Oh, hi! Hands sippy-cup back. No. Puts sippy-cup in backpack pocket. Cramped bus. Moving bus. Stopped holding on. Open umbrella. Close, no open, no CLOSED umbrella. Cramped bus. Moving bus. Holding on.
Good impression on fellow bus riders: 0
Entertainment factor: 10
Embarrassment factor, for me: 0
for onlookers, on my behalf: (probably) 10
Care factor: 0
*‘einsteigen’ German for ‘to get into’
* ‘en vor en toe’ Afrikaans for ‘and onwards/forwards’
Write in next semester with your most memorable bus experience. We'd love to hear it.
Gloria in Profundis
By GK Chesterton
There has fallen on earth for a token
A god too great for the sky.
He has burst out of all things and broken
The bounds of eternity:
Into time and the terminal land
He has strayed like a thief or a lover,
For the wine of the world brims over,
Its splendour is split on the sand.
Who is proud when the heavens are humble,
Who mounts if the mountains fall,
If the fixed stars topple and tumble
And a deluge of love drowns all-
Who rears up his head for a crown,
Who holds up his will for a warrant,
Who strives with the starry torrent,
When all that is good goes down?
For in dread of such falling and failing
The fallen angels fell
Inverted in insolence, scaling
The hanging mountain of hell:
But unmeasured of plummet and rod
Too deep for their sight to scan,
Outrushing the fall of man
Is the height of the fall of God.
Glory to God in the Lowest
The spout of the stars in spate-
Where thunderbolt thinks to be slowest
And the lightning fears to be late:
As men dive for sunken gem
Pursuing, we hunt and hound it,
The fallen star has found it
In the cavern of Bethlehem.
Solution to Last Week’s Crossword
Crossword by Embolus
1. Sounds easy! Key will shortly open up for prophet. (7)
5. A claim hard to justify for one with foresight. (7)
10. First casualty of incompetent spelling of competent. (4)
11. Such stoical reaction without turn for a different type of philosopher. (10)
12. Ancient episcopate under Bede’s sanctification? (6)
13. Rhymes and sonnets assonant with Keats’ woodlands. (8)
14. Hem and belt he stitched into royal seat. (9)
16. Patriarch had some hesitation about backward child. (5)
17. Brief letter about good umpire (5)
19. Loyal followers are glad he rents out residential properties. (9)
23. The props in drama become characters with prescience (8)
24. To consume intoxicating mixture, Bacchus intruded beyond expected introductions (6)
26. Fellow before long time, fellows before short time, running things. (10)
27. Hot tub at home lodging (4)
28. Formatted by kind group (7)
29. Lee rang up? (7)
2. Venerable chap in last letter was left minding the boat (7)
3. Links overheated places (5)
4. Leaven’s restricted to oppress workforce (7)
6. Did Adam’s condition elapse perhaps while Eve was getting made up? (6)
7. Will confidence trick cure an ass? (9)
8. She received their essential investment after Mummy and Daddy went home (7)
9. He presses shed into use for Rachel and Zipporah (13)
15. Elevated position or somewhere to get stoned? (4,5)
18. Not prepared for day rune is interpreted (7)
20. Worship from clergyman always (6)
21. Orientals split over communique (7)
22.Running bill hit a problem for seamstress. (7)
25. Library abandoned literature about clocks needing seconds (5)