the last enemy and the reigning Lord

Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim:

“There are many shades in the danger of adventures and gales, and it is only now and then that there appears on the face of facts a sinister violence of intention – that indefinable something which forces it upon the mind and the heart of a man, that this complication of accidents or these elemental furies are coming at him with a purpose of malice, with a strength beyond control, with an unbridled cruelty that means to tear out of him his hope and fear, the pain of his fatigue and the longing for rest: which means to smash, to destroy, to annihilate all he has seen, known, loved, enjoyed, or hated; all that is priceless and necessary – the sunshine, the memories, the future; which means to sweep the whole precious world utterly away from his sight by the simple and appalling act of taking his life.

I Corinthians 15:20, 25 – 26, 57 – 58:
“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
“For he (Christ) must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”
“thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm.”

The voice of history

Erik Larson beautifully describes the Tiergarten of old Berlin, “Berlin’s equivalent of Central Park”. He writes that it was “630 acres of trees, walkways, riding paths and statuary that spread west from the Brandenburg Gate to the wealthy residential and shopping district of Charlottenburg.” He quotes a British diplomat’s description of the enchantment of the well used park in the evening: “In the Tiergarten, the little lamps flicker among the little trees, and the grass is starred with the fireflies of a thousand cigarettes.” [pages 49 – 50]

This is, of course, before WWII; before the German blitzkrieg decimated cities and before the bombing and destruction came ultimately back to Berlin itself.

At the very end of the book, after the index, is a single quote from Christopher Isherwood, describing the state of the Tiergarten at the close of the war:

“I walked across the snowy plain of the Tiergarten – a smashed statue here, a newly planted sapling there; the Brandenburger Tor, with its red flag flapping against the blue winter sky; and on the horizon, the great ribs of a gutted railway station, like the skeleton of a whale. In the morning light it was all as raw and frank as the voice of history which tells you not to fool yourself; this can happen to any city, to anyone, to you.”