Saturday, July 2, 2022

Saturday Good Reads - July 2, 2022

We live in a time when people who should know better are trying to tear away at the foundations of culture and society. One would think that the man most identified with the end of slavery in the United States, for example, might be given a break. But, no, he, too, must be toppled and carted to the trash heap. Ralph Lerner at American Enterprise Institute National Affairs offers a defense of Abraham Lincoln with “Re-imagining the Great Emancipator.” 

My youngest son was a Harry Potter fan, or fanatic. When the first book came out, we heard all the warnings about “promotion of witchcraft.” So, before we okayed the book for our son, I read it, and discovered it was nothing like people were saying. In fact, it was a pretty engaging story. David Mathis at Desiring God read the stories to his sons, and he offers a reflection on Harry Potter at 25


Another anniversary: The 1982 movie Blade Runner turns 40 this year. Tom Ward at Esquire writes about why he considers the movie the great science-fiction film of all time


A word about the links below on the Dobbs decision by the Supreme Court. I make no apology for being pro-life. It comes from my faith. The news media, as expected, has offered an avalanche of outrage about the decision. I can’t look at any secular literary or cultural site without more of the same. The stories below offer a tiny droplet against the tidal wave of our media, and they’re all worth reading.


More Good Reads




A Conflict of Visions: Comparing Rick Warren’s SBC Speech and Juan Sanchez’s Convention Sermon – Alex DiPrima at 9 Marks.


Handel’s Messiah: Sing Hallelujah! – Clint Archer at The Cripplegate.


The Dobbs Decision


60 Questions for Pro-Choice Christians – Jamie Wilder at Mere Orthodoxy.


When the Mob Shows Up the Monday After Roe – Michael Lawrence at The Gospel Coalition.


Understanding Dobbs: The Unbearable Wrongness of Roe and Casey – O. Carter Snead at Church Life Journal.




‘Upon These Boughs that Shake Against the Cold’ – Cynthia Erlandson at Society of Classical Poets.


Czesław Miłosz's Theological Two-Step – Cynthia Haven at Church Life Journal.


American Stuff


Why National Honor Matters – John Hood at American Purpose.


Writing and Literature


In praise of (very) small independent publishers – Micah Mattix at The Spectator.


Tell Your Story – Millie Sweeny at Story Warren.


From aardvark to woke: inside the Oxford English Dictionary – Pippa Bailey at The New Statesman.


Life and Culture


A Woke Globe – Dwight Longenecker at The Imaginative Conservative.


Planting and Tending the Lost Seeds of Learning – Jeremy Larson at Front Porch Republic.


Small-Town USA: The mythical place that stifles and nourishes – Phil Christman at The Hedgehog Review.


Accountability and Authority: The case for well-run institutions – Arnold Kling at In My Tribe.


News Media


For print newspapers, one Florida retirement community is a better market than Atlanta, St. Louis, or Portland – Joshua Benton at Nieman Lab.


Looking for real news coverage of crisis pregnancy centers? This isn't it ... – Terry Mattingly at Get Religion.




Ukraine war is not an example of “toxic masculinity” – Sam Ashworth-Hayes at The Critic Magazine.


“The Sky is Innocent” – Poet Ostap Slyvynsky at Literary Hub.


Africa – Toto x Peter Bence

 Painting: The Latest News, oil on canvas by Charles Spencelayh (1865-1958)

Friday, July 1, 2022

On its head

After Matthew 5:43-48

Once again, you turn culture

on its head. Love my enemies?

Pray for my persecutors? Seriously?

Maybe you don’t know who

These people really are. They’re

Evil. They want to throw me

in prison, and worse. They

stay awake at night plotting

my destruction. They devise

news ways to destroy children

and call it education. They

dress up evil intentions and

evil acts with somber,

pious murmurs of equality

and equity. Like corporate CEOs

and other Pharisees, they love

to signal their virtues, implying

how sinful and ignorant the rest

of us are.

Pray for them?

Love them?

Are you kidding me?


Photograph by Bodisanal Boogie via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

"Death by Dark Waters" by Jo Allen

The weather in Cumbria has been dry – ideal for grassfires, both natural and set. After one fire, which engulfed part of an old, abandoned farm, a body is found. But it doesn’t appear to be a victim of the fire – the coroner determines the victim was dead before the fire.  

The victim is the 12-year-old son of a wealthy app developer, known for his online dating sites.


Detective Chief Inspector Jude Satterthwaite of the Cumbria Police investigates with his team, including a new (and very attractive) detective sergeant. Satterthwaite is three years out from his divorce, and it doesn’t help that his ex-wife lives next door to his mother.


Jo Allen

The victim’s father has no use for the police; he’d almost been framed for a crime he didn’t commit by a former police officer in another part of England. He has his own security force at his mansion, which obviously didn’t help protect his family. But the family has secrets, and those secrets will send Satterthwaite and his officers down rabbit holes before they find they right one.


But before that, a second murder happens, and the suspects are getting increasingly few on the ground..


Death by Dark Waters is the first of eight DCI Satterthwaite mystery novels by British author Jo Allen. It’s a dark tale of passion, betrayal, and utterly ruthless business competition, one with innocent victims suffering the consequences. 


Allen is a native of Wolverhampton, England, and has graduate and postgraduate degrees in geography and earth science. After a career as an economic consultant, he began writing short stories, romance, and romantic suspense under the pen name of Jennifer Young. She began writing the DCI Satterthwaite crime novels in 2017. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Encounter in the Woods : A Story

Sam woke with a crick in his neck and a sore backside. He stretched, trying to ease the hurt in his muscles. In the past two years, he’d slept more nights with a tree canopy for a roof than anything manmade, and he still wasn’t used to it.  

With a group of soldiers bound for South Carolina, he’d followed the main road into Chatham, a small Southern town typical of its kind a day’s walk from Appomattox. The smithy and stable, the general store, and a few other establishments lined the town’s main street. Also lining the street had been townspeople with rifles and pistols.


“Just keep on moving through,” said a large man in clothes worn but still presentable. “We don’t mean to be inhospitable, but we’ve had too much trouble with soldiers and others. Keep moving and we’ll all get along just fine.”


A few soldiers had looked as if they were ready to be less than accommodating but were stopped by others. Sam kept walking, wondering if this is what returning soldiers would find everywhere – frightened people trying to protect what little they had left.

To continue reading, please see my post today at Dancing Priest.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Poets and Poems: Sara Eddy and “Tell the Bees” and “Full Mouth”

I will admit having talked with family pets over the years as if they were human. I’ve even projected conversations into their mouths. When my children were young, I wrote hand-illustrated stories about their pets. Judging by what I’ve seen in books and social media, I am not alone.  

When it comes to food, I’m more utilitarian; some might say cretinous. I don’t get excited into flights of rhetorical fancy over food, with one possible exception: Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream. It’s the Texas-based company’s most popular flavor – and with good reason. They should market it as “heaven on earth.” Blue Bell ice cream is not sold in St. Louis, but I have a friend who makes runs to Rolla, Missouri, where it is sold, just to buy the ice cream.


Poet Sara Eddy is a beekeeper. She talks with her bees. She projects conversations and thoughts into the mouths and minds of her bees. And judging by her poetry, Eddy also enjoys food – each jam, truffles, honeycake, oysters, cantaloupe, dumplings, muffins, raspberries, donuts, olives, and burritos, to cite a few.


But in her hands, bees and food are something more than humorous stories or tributes to favorite things to eat. They are metaphors for life and its experiences, and she writes about both bees and food in ways both original and profound. 


Eddy has published two chapbooks, or short collections, Tell the Bees (2019) and Full Mouth (2020). Published by Writing MapsTell the Bees is a short collection of eight poems, published as a type of pamphlet with color photographs of her own beehives. Full Mouth, part of the New Women’s Voices Series of Finishing Line Press, includes 30 poems, published in a more traditional short book format.

To continue reading, please see my post today at Tweetspeak Poetry.

Monday, June 27, 2022

“Hell Itself: The Battle of the Wilderness, May 5-7, 1864” by Chris Mackowski

Once Ulysses S. Grant became commander of all the Union’s armies, he undertook two efforts that ultimately helped defeat the Confederacy. First, he coordinated the campaigns of all of the Northern armies, and not only those forces under his immediate command. Second, he made a concerted effort to capture the Confederate capital of Richmond.  

In 1864, the campaign against Richmond was renewed in earnest. Grant was attempting to avoid a frontal assault and instead sweep around and back. To do that, he had to move his Army of the Potomac through 70 square miles of densely wooded terrain known as the Wilderness. The area was inhabited, if sparsely. Moving an army through it, with its artillery and supply wagons, would be difficult, but Grant was determined.


So was Robert E. Lee. He understood what Grant was attempting, and he was just as determined to stop him. Two steel wills clashed – and the Wilderness exploded. Literally.


In Hell Itself: The Battle of the Wilderness, May 5-7, 1864Chris Mackowski does two things. He tells the story of the main points of the battle, and he provides detailed directions for a tour of the battlefield by automobile. (“Battlefield” is a limiting term here; there was no one field or area of open terrain where everything happened.) The book is part of the Emerging Civil War Series


Chris Markowski

In addition to writing some of the volumes, Mackowski serves as editor for the entire effort. A professor at St. Bonaventure University, he has B.A., M.A., M.F.A., and Ph.D. degrees in communication, English, and creative writing. The author of some nine books, he’s written extensively on the Civil War for a number of publications. He also worked for the National Park Service and gave tours of the Civil War battlefields at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness, and Spotsylvania. 


The Wilderness was a horrific battle, deserving of the name given by one its participants, “Hell Itself.” The terrain and denseness of the forest often meant hand-to-hand combat. Artillery fire often resulted in the woods catching fire, and soldiers on both sides were burned to death. 


Hell Itself brings the battle to life, making the reader feel almost a first-hand observer. You wonder, as did many who fought there, how anyone made it out of those woods alive.




Attack at Daylight and Whip Them: The Battle of Shiloh, April 6-7, 1862 by Gregory Mertz.


The Last Road North: A Guide to the Gettysburg Campaign, 1863 by Robert Orrison and Dan Welch.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Love your enemies

After Matthew 5:43-48

Republicans, pray for Democrats.

Democrats, love Republicans.

Hamas, love Israel.

Israel, pray for Hamas.

Progressives, pray for conservatives.

Conservatives, love progressives.

Everyone, pray for China.

Trumpers, pray for Hillary and Joe.

Hillary and Joe, pray for the Donald,

and love the deplorables.

Congressmen, love rioters and insurrectionists.

Rioters and insurrectionists, pray for congressmen.

Everyone, pray for Adam Schiff.

Everyone, pray for Hollywood.

Red states, pray for your blue cities.

Blue cities, love your red states.

Cardinal fans, love the Cubs.

Cub fans, pray for the Cardinals.

Everyone pray for journalists.


Photograph by Clay Banks via Unsplash. Used with permission.