Sunday, February 12, 2006

king leopold's ghost

I just finished reading King Leopold's Ghost by Adam Hochschild. This was a great follow up to the last book I read, A Continent for the Taking by Howard French, though I'm kind of going backwards through history, I realize. After learning much about the past 10-20 years in the Congo and west Africa, I now have the context of King Leopold and his terrifying reign over the Congo at the end of the 19th century...and I can see how it has moved from generation to generation. He wanted to make a name for Belgium in the age of colonialism, and found the perfect place. It is indeed a story of terror, greed, and heroic acts, as the subtitle offers.

I am in awe that probably 10 million people lost their lives during his 10-15 year reign in the Congo; that he made such a fortune and was able to keep it from others, even after he was exposed; that the furnace in his palace raged for 7 or 8 days straight, burning any official records that may have information regarding the Congo; that today he is still mostly regarded as a pretty amazing king with brilliant tactics; that this story is only one of many regarding the "struggles" between the natives across Africa and the rest of the world at the height of colonialism. No matter how the wrong actions were, they have occurred for generations and will continue to take place this side of Christ's return.

We live in a messy world, a sick world, a beautiful world, a difficult world...and we have purpose and place in it, made in the image of our Creator and with the ability to glorify Him. To that end we must live.


At 8:41 AM, Blogger Jena said...

Amen, Aaron. Glad you got into the book. Messy stuff, indeed!


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