Books Ring Mah Bell's Reviews > Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust

Left to Tell by Immaculée Ilibagiza
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Oct 15, 2007

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bookshelves: memo-auto-bio, religion-or-not

Faith can be defined as:
1. confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another's ability.
2. belief that is not based on proof
3. belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion
4. belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.

How Immaculee Ilibagiza's faith was not shattered and completely destroyed after her ordeal in the Rwandan holocaust is astonishing. Tribal tensions between the Hutus and the Tutsis escalate and the Hutus set about destroying any Tutsi - from infants to elders, no one is spared, except for those that are hidden away. Immaculee manages to survive by being secretly stashed in a tiny bathroom for 3 months with several other women. Her family is murdered - her grandparents, parents, brothers, aunts, uncles, and cousins (including an 8 month old baby.) They are only a small portion of the million lives lost in the genocide.

At one point, she hears screaming, then silence, then a baby crying. The baby is left for dead, and Immaculee has to hear the baby cry all night until the crying is replaced by the sound of snarling dogs. She prays for the child's soul and asks God, "How can I forgive people who would do such a thing to an infant?" He responds to her, "You are ALL my children... and the baby is with me now."

This comforts her and she manages to go into "forgive them they know not what they do" mode.

I go into "If we are ALL your children, I think you need to mix in a time-out. And maybe throw in some birth control while you are at it" mode.

I read way too many books like this, Night, The Rape of Nanking, and I am repeatedly horrified by how these atrocities can occur. (maybe if I stop reading I can throw away my Paxil!!!)
How someone is able to get to the point that they think it's okay, necessary even, to chop babies in half or throw hundreds of people into a fire because they are ethnically different is incomprehensible.

What the hell goes wrong in your head that makes murder okay?!?!

I get self-preservation. I get self-defense. I do. If someone comes into my home intending to do my family harm, then it's on. I will put my life on the line to protect, no questions asked.

So is what happens with genocide a preemptive thing? Get them before they get us/taint the gene pool/ whatever??? Or is it driven by pure hatred? Is it the devil? I hate to go there, but I really can't wrap my mind around all these unspeakable evils without thinking there's a huge evil force behind it all. Which then gets me thinking, "where the hell is goodness/love and God" while this is going on?
We don't want to go there, not now. (do we?)

All I know, is that my faith, which most days is weak to non-existent, would certainly be gone after enduring what Immaculee endured.

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Reading Progress

October 15, 2007 – Shelved
February 8, 2008 – Shelved as: memo-auto-bio
April 6, 2010 – Started Reading
April 6, 2010 – Shelved as: religion-or-not
April 7, 2010 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Kim (new)

Kim ((Bells))

I felt the same way reading Night and Anne Frank, it's mind numbing... literally. I don't think that our brain can handle that much evil. How can people like this author survive and still feel--- I guess... feel

Books Ring Mah Bell I hear ya, Kim.

I'd go mad. Pretty sure.

james incredible book.

i could NEVER do what she did.

thought this was amazing. surprised you only gave it 3 stars.


Books Ring Mah Bell Anthony? Did you forget I'm cold and heartless?

I mean, I'm really, really unfeeling.

She's an amazing woman, really. I give her 10 stars... and I should give the book a four... but in addition to being cold, I'm stubborn.

james no bellsy-

i'll NEVER forget THAT review.

still swallowing grenades with your cocktails?

Books Ring Mah Bell I always wash down my grenades with some whiskey.


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