Sunday, July 22, 2018

I would die for a good man

After Romans 5:6-11

I would die for a good man
for sure, I think, or so I tell myself,
I guess I would, maybe,
a good person accused unfairly or
plotted against or betrayed or treated
unjustly. I would do that, I think,
surely we would do that.

But to die for an evil man? A murderer.
a thief, a rapist, a child abuser,
a wife beater, a terrorist, or even worse,
someone who votes differently? Would
I die for any of them, any of those people?
I think not.
I think not.
But he did.

Photograph by Ian Espinosa via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Saturday Good Reads

I’m finding myself spending less and less time on Facebook, and the reason is politics. Any discussion involving politics seems to start from the viewpoint of outrage, with extreme language and sentiments. It doesn’t matter which side of the aisle you sit on. When outrage is your starting point, your post is simply inviting others of like mind to share your outrage, taunt people who believe differently, or both. And no one’s mind is being changed. Scott Adams is right: we Americans are seeing the exact same events unfold, but we’re watching two entirely different movies.  The Atlantic did a survey, and discovered that, for all our talk about the desperate need for civil discourse in America, we’re sticking to our political bubbles and our confirmation biases. 

J.D. Guesing describes who’s buried in a small, relatively unknown cemetery in London. David Henndendorf writes on Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native and Wendell Berry’s Jayber Crow. A 26-year-old from India meets an 87-year-old in Dublin, and two lives are changed; the BBC has the story. A Clerk of Oxford explore a 10thcentury Old English poem. The New Yorker has what I’d call a “calmly horrible” story on the 19thcentury slave trade; the calmness with which the author writes adds to the horror of what’s being written.

And more.

British Stuff

To Catch a Thief – Sarah Rayne at English Historical Fiction Authors.

Reader, If You Seek a Monument, Look Around – J.G. Duesing at Footnotes.


Historical Markers – Benjamin Myers at First Things Magazine.

Some Small Bone – Hailey Leithauser at Image Journal.

On Remembering – Elizabeth Marshall.

Life and Culture

The Disappearing Newsroom – Wallace Stroby at CrimeReads.

The wise words that changed my life – Awanthi Vardaraj at BBC. 

My Great-Grandfather, the Nigerian Slave Trader – Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani at The New Yorker.

One Country, Two Radically Different Narratives – Emma Green at The Atlantic.

Writing and Literature

Owen Barfield on C.S. Lewis – Bradley Birzer at The Imaginative Conservative.

The Cost of Knowing One’s Place – David Heddendorf at Front Porch Republic.

The World of Raymond Chandler and The Big Sleep – Pamela Jackson and Anthony Rizzutto at CrimeReads.


Choosing to be Different in the Workplace – Jeff Klick at Biblical Leadership.

Friendly Theological Liberalism: A Threat in Every Age – Dan Doriani at The Gospel Coalition.

Is the Wall of Separation “Bad History”? – Thomas Kidd at The Gospel Coalition.

Awkward Saint Crazy – Adam Whipple at The Rabbit Room.

Art and Photography

The Serious Charm of Edward Bawden – Jenny Uglow at The New York Review of Books.

Summer at Sugar Creek – Tim Good at Photography by Tiwago.

The Inspector Morse Theme (Morse code)

Painting: Interior with Woman Reading, oil on canvas by Carl Vilhelm Holsoe (1863-1935).

Friday, July 20, 2018

The fig tree

After Mark 11:1-14

Hungry, he spies a tree,
a fig tree in full leaf,
suggestive of branches
hanging heavy with fruit.
He searches, but the tree
offers nothing, yields nothing
but leaves, an appearance only,
an invitation without substance,
a mirage, a fraud

and so the curse.

From the cursed fig
to the temple, with its appearance
of wealth and wisdom and worship
but nothing but appearance, a fraud,
a mirage,
and so it joins its brother,
the fig tree.

Photograph by Lynn Greyling via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

"Dead Water" by Ann Cleeves

Jerry Markham, born and raised in Shetland, took himself off to London as soon as he could. He’s a journalist, gradually making a name for himself, although in Shetland he’s something of a celebrity already. But people generally don’t like him; he was the spoiled only child of the owners of Ravenscroft Hotel, he made something of a pest of himself when he reported for the Shetland Times, and he got a local girl, Evie Watt, pregnant when she worked at the hotel. That was another reason for hightailing it to London.

Jerry comes back to Shetland for a visit, although it may be something more than that, like a story. He’s back barely a day when he’s murdered. His body is found floating in a racing scull, and it’s found by Inspector Jimmy Perez’s boss, Rhona Laing. Because Perez is still recovering from the death of his fiancĂ©e, a detective inspector is sent from Scotland to manage the case. And what becomes clear is that Rhona knows more about Jerry Markham than she wants to say. So do a lot of other people.

Dead Water by Ann Cleeves is the fifth Jimmy Perez detective novel, and it’s as consistently high-0caliber and entertaining as its predecessors. Cleeves continues to develop the story and character of Perez, who almost against his will is drawn into the investigation. He always knows the right questions to ask, and it’s largely because he pays close attention to what few other investigating officers pay attention to – the personal details.

Ann Cleeves
Cleeves has published seven mysteries in the Jimmy Perez / Shetland series, including Raven Black (2008), Red Bones (2009), White Nights (2010), Blue Lightning (2011), Dead Water (2014), Thin Air (2015), and Cold Air (2017). She’s also published eight mystery novels in the Vera Stanhope series (also a television series), six Inspector Stephen Ramsay mysteries, and several others works and short stories. The Jimmy Perez novels are the basis for the BBC television series “Shetland.” Cleeves lives in northeastern England.

There will be a second murder, with more in the offing unless Perez and his fellow police officers can delve deeply into the past to find answers and motives. Dead Water is a fine mystery, gripping to the end, and has the reader almost cheering to see Jimmy Perez managing to recover from his own personal tragedy.


Top photograph: A view of the Shetland coast, via