Sunday, July 31, 2022

A choice of treasures

After Matthew 6:19-21

We have a choice, it seems,

a choice of treasures,

of which there are 

two distinct kinds. 

On we know well:

the treasures of earth:

money, stocks and

bonds, real estate,

jewels, precious metals,

great works of art, all

of those earthly delights

the provide wealth,

power, ease, security,

obedience, control.

The other is the treasures

of heaven, the ones that

last and endure, the ones

moths cannot destroy,

nor rust corrode, nor

thieves steal, nor hackers

grab and ransom. And it is

a choice, one we can

freely make, a choice that

explains and demonstrates

what matters, where

our heart is.


Photograph by Immo Wegmann via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Saturday Good Reads - July 30, 2022

Some years back, KFUO-FM, the last classical radio channel in St. Louis, was sold by the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. It was a blow to classical music in the region. But it affected mostly our own metropolitan area. Recently, the BBC in Britain made a similar announcement. The BBC operates a number of different television and radio channels. The organization’s director general, Tim Davie, announced the termination of BBC Four, which carries music of a number of symphony orchestras in Britain as well as the Proms. And that may be the end of a major British institution.   

Anika Prather and Angel Adams Parham have a new idea for education in the United States, one that focuses on all students but also highlights the Black experience in the United States. It’s classical Christian education – the same kind my grandsons are getting. (Prediction: the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers will not be impressed.) Mere Orthodoxy has a review of the book.


I’ve added a new category for Good Reads, one I’ve entitled “Follow the Science!” The first two entries concern ruling paradigms that were upset – two in the same week. One concerns the long-held belief that depression resulted from a chemical imbalance in the brain. The other is about the accepted orthodoxy about plaque contributing to or causing Alzheimer’s. The first turns out to be wrong; the second may have been fabricated. See the story links below.


More Good Reads


Writing and Literature


On the Loneliness and Insecurity of Writing – Samuel D. James at Digital Liturgies.


A warning to professional writers who would lean on AI content tools – David Murray at Writing Boots.


Beowulf: A Horror Show – Eleanor Johnson at Public Books.




We Need More Holy Fools – Scott Hubbard at Desiring God.


From Vanity Fair to “Well Done” – Henry Anderson at The Cripplegate.


British Stuff


England’s New Conservative Superstar – Zoe Strimpel at Common Sense.


Life and Culture


Baseball – Millie Sweeney at Story Warren. 


Dr. Rigby’s Ugly Cry – Daniel Ray at Front Porch Republic.


Dobbs vs. Roe: See How They Love One Another – Tara Ann Thieke at Front Porch Republic. 


Follow the Science!


Blots on a Field? A neuroscience image sleuth finds signs of fabrication in scores of Alzheimer’s articles, threatening a reigning theory of the disease – Charles Piller at Science Magazine.


Scientists Find No Evidence That Depression Is Caused by “Chemical Imbalance” or Low Serotonin Levels – SciTechDaily.




London in Those Times – Estill Pollock at The High Window.


Cordelia’s Choice – Brian Yapko at Society of Classical Poets.




Ukraine in Black and White: Recalling the moral clarity of Lillian Hellman’s The North Star – Timothy Jacobson at The Spectator


Volodymyr Zelenskyy Presented the Sir Winston Churchill Leadership Award 2022 by Boris Johnson – International Churchill Centre.


I Once Wrote—and Spoke, and Thought—in Russian… No More – Volodymyr Rafeenko at Literary Hub. 


News Media


The Future of the Daily Newspaper: As newspapers cut print editions, lines blur between dailies and weeklies – Greg Burns at Northwestern University’s Local News Initiative.


I Love You – RIOPY

 Painting: An Old Man Reading, oil on canvas by Hendrick Bloemaert (1601-1672), Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest. 

Friday, July 29, 2022

The age in which we live

After I Corinthians 3:18-4:5

We live in an age where 

all claim wisdom, as if wisdom

was genetic and a birthright,

an age of foolishness counted

foolishly as wisdom, at least

according to the latest poll.

Yet it is folly, all folly, mud

drying to dust, dispersed and

blown and scattered even

by the weakest wind.


Slyness, passing itself off

as wisdom, is chased by,

and chases, the wind.


We are buffeted and blown

by the world, but we stand

firm, unmoved, knowing 

that it is not ours to judge,

but only to stand, even if

struck down, stand firm 

in knowing that the wisdom

of the world, its big data, 

is a transient thing, dying

even as it’s born.


Photograph by David Vines via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

"The Curious Case of the Templeton-Swifts" by Benedict Brown

It’s the spring of 1926. Christopher Prentiss is staring at his final (and imminent) school exams. He’s had a number of recent adventures with his grandfather, Lord Edgington, investigating murders, and now he’s focused on getting through exams to – do what exactly? His parents expect him to go on to university like his older brother, but Christopher is at somewhat loose ends about his future. 

And then his grandfather arrives, orders him into the car, and off they go, this time to investigate a murder before it happens. Lord Edgington has received a letter from a reclusive financier living at his country estate, asking for help because he’s convinced “she’s going to kill me.” The “she” in this case is supposedly the man’s considerably younger wife. 


For a change, Christopher’s mother is with them; she had shared a few adventures with her father back in the day, and her father thinks she might be able to help them with the possible suspects. They soon arrive at the estate of the Templeton-Swifts. In addition to the wife (whom Christopher gets something of a crush on), in attendance are the man’s two sons and daughter, a rather unskilled cook, her husband the gardener, and their daughter, a maid. 


Benedict Brown

Lord Edgington had been asked to come to prevent a murder, but the ailing older man is soon found dead, smothered in his bed. Or was he given an overdose of morphine?


The Curious Case of the Templeton-Swifts is the sixth of the Lord Edgington mystery novels by British author Benedict Brown. It’s a fun mystery, full of period information. And it’s also the story of Christopher trying to determine his future – and his grandfather thinks he would make a fine detective.


In addition to the six published Lord Edgington stories, Brown has written seven Izzy Palmer mystery novels and three novellas. A native of south London, he lives with his family in Spain. The Lord Edgington mysteries are likely aimed at both the general reader as well as the young adult audience. And they’re well-researched stories, full of information about the mid-1920s.




Murder at the Spring Ball by Benedict Brown.


A Body at a Boarding School by Benedict Brown.


The Mystery of Mistletoe Hall by Benedict Brown.


 Death on a Summer’s Day by Benedict Brown.


The Tangled Treasure Trail by Benedict Brown.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

The Passing of a Friend

My mother, who died in 2014, graduated from John McDonough High School in New Orleans in 1940. At the time, it was an all-girls public high school. She remained close to many of the girls who graduated with her, and she never missed a high school reunion for the next 60+ years. And then the reunions stopped. The time came when the number of the 1940 graduates still living had dwindled to less than five. My mother said that they decided that reunions had become too depressing, too much of a reminder of what, and who, was gone. 

I thought of my mother when I read a Facebook post last week. It almost seemed nonsensical. A friend posted a short item of the passing of a mutual friend, Paul Stolwyck. It was a shock. I didn’t know he’d been ill. Over the next few hours, I learned what had happened. He died from a brain aneurysm. No warning, no sign, just a collapse. 

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

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

"Shaking Hands" by Glenn McGoldrick

John Baxter is a debt collector, not for a bank or loan company but for some unnamed private lender. He has to collect 300 pounds owed by Kevin Hitchcock, who’s been avoiding Baxter for weeks. And then Baxter finds his quarry fishing along the riverbank.  

“It’s only three hundred quid,” Hitchcock tells him. They fight, and Hitchcock dies. And now Baxter has a worse problem than collecting an old debt.


Glenn McGoldrick

Shaking Hands
is a new Dark Teesside story by British author Glenn McGoldrick. Set where all the Dark Teesside stories are set, in northeastern England, it’s a story about what happens when something relatively straightforward – collecting a debt – goes seriously awry. The death is only the starting point, the precipitating action; the story comes in what follows.


Writing since 2013, McGoldrick specializes in short stories with a twist, and usually a dark and often a deadly twist. He worked for both land-based casinos and cruise ships for a time, basing many of his stories on those experiences. His stories are gritty, and his characters run the gamut of good, bad, and something in between. They often find themselves moving far beyond the boundaries of acceptable behavior. McGoldrick lives in northeastern England (which I’m assuming is not as dark as his stories might imply). 


“Shaking Hands” explores the human psyche of a man whose life unravels after a single unanticipated yet precipitous act.




Idle Hands by Glenn McGoldrick.


“The Moor Road” by Glenn McGoldrick.


“Yellow Feet” by Glenn McGoldrick.


Three New Dark Stories by Glenn McGoldrick.


“Six Down,” “Somewhere in England,” and “Dark Progresion” by Glenn McGoldrick.


 4 Stories by Glenn McGoldrick.


3+ Stories by Glenn McGoldrick.


Five Mysteries: 2 Short Stories, 2 Novellas, and a Long Story.


The Dark Stories of Glenn McGoldrick.


Watching Crows by Glenn McGoldrick.


Some Light and Dark Holiday Reading.

Monday, July 25, 2022

"Savage Gods" by Paul Kingsnorth

Some writers never get over writer’s block. Paul Kingsnorth turned into a personal, high readable memoir. 

Savage Gods, published in 2019, is a memoir, a meditation, a search for understanding, a discussion of writing and words, and a reflection about a father, concisely presented in a 2 126-page book. But don’t let the short length mislead you. Thinking I might read it in a day, I was surprised to find myself rereading, reading slowly and carefully, and thinking about the other writers and thinkers Kingsworth was quoting and discussing. The expected one day gave way to four days.


But for a writer, it’s time worth spending.


Kingsnorth and his family moved from England to the west of Ireland. He considers the move part of the compelled restlessness he’s maintained in his adult life, a restlessness that is more like a hunger for place, and belonging to a place. He’s brutally honest about himself; he understands that the desire to disrupt his own life is somehow intrinsic to his writing, He considers what it is that writers do, this appropriation of words to create something. And he considers how words, those “savage gods,” as he calls them, have directed his life.


And then he experiences the time when the words stop, even when they’re not supposed to. And that leads to a meditation upon silence. 


Paul Kingsnorth

He draws upon thinkers and writers as diverse as Russell Means, the Native American activist; the culture of the highlands in Papua New Guinea; mythologist Colin Campbell; the poet R.S. Thomas; cultural ecologist David Abram; D.H. Lawrence; Rainer Maria Rilke; and many others. Kingsnorth is searching here, and he mines the experiences and words of other writers and thinkers to understand what is happening in his own life.


Kingsnorth is the author of three novels, The Wake (2015), Beast (2017), and Alexandria (2020), and a collection of poems, Kidland: And Other Poems (2011). He’s also the author of three non-fiction works: One No, Many Yeses: A Journey to the Heart of the Global Resistance Movement (2003); Real England: The Battle Against the Bland (2009); and Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist and Other Essays (2017). He blogs at The Abbey of Misrule. He and his family live in Ireland.


Savage Gods tells a story, the story of a writer experiencing a struggle. It may be a struggle ostensibly about writer’s block, but it is really a larger struggle, and a larger story, of self-understanding.




Beast by Paul Kingsnorth.


Paul Kingsnorth: The Poetry of the Future Landscape.


Alexandria by Paul Kingsnorth.

Sunday, July 24, 2022


After Matthew 6:16-18

An act that is supposed

to be a kind of worship

becomes an act in a play,

the important replaced

by the theatrical. To draw

the scene larger than life,

which I what you do

in a play, you wear

your makeup, you project

your voice, you assume 

a role, you wander the stage

so as to be seen. Here,

however, the goal isn’t

entertainment; the goal is

being noticed, being caught

doing something good, being

respected, being bowed to,

making the self to be

the object of fasting, another

kind of idolatry. A suggestion:

don’t let anyone know when

you fast. Disguise yourself

to look normal, if you have to.

Keep the fast a secret between

you and the purpose, the objective

of your fast. Do it so that God

only knows.


Photograph by Julia Caesar via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Saturday Good Reads - July 23, 2022

I’ve been reading a lot about the Civil War lately, trying to decide if I’m going to write about my great-grandfather or not. A benefit (and sometimes a curse) of the period is how much has been written about it. To do it right, I have to read a fair amount of what’s out there to try to understand the period, how people lived through it, what some of the key battles were like, and what happened afterward. With historical fiction, the devil is in the details. Rebecca Scott at Literary Hub describes what it’s like when research on the era is almost non-existent.  

If you follow journalism sites on the web, you’ll (sooner rather than later) discover the considerable amount of handwringing that goes on about the public not trusting the news media. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch occasionally indulges in this as well, forgetting that its editorial page (and much of its news coverage) resembles an echo chamber. Gallup did a recent survey on trust in the media, finding – surprise! – the public’s confidence in the media is at record lows. More handwringing to follow. 


If you visit Parliament Square in London, one statue you immediately notice is that of Winston Churchill, facing the Houses of Parliament. Walk around the space, and you’ll discover, as did American historian Neil Chatelain, another statue facing Parliament – that of Abraham Lincoln


More Good Reads


Writing and Literature


The Perfection of Jane Austen – Eva Brann at The Imaginative Conservative.


Ten Reasons to Believe We’re Living in the Golden Age of Texas Fiction – Texas Monthly.


Past Lives of the Paragraph – Richard Hughes Gibson at The Hedgehog Review.


The Bookseller Who Helped Transform Oxford, Mississippi – Casey Cep at The New Yorker.




The Uselessness of “Christian Nationalism” – Miles Smith at Mere Orthodoxy.


Religion Goes Off the Rails – Greg Doles at Chasing Light.


Jesus Shall Reign: The Remarkable Story of the First Missionary Hymn – Scott Hubbard at Desiring God.




Ukrainian Christians Recall 51 Days Huddled in Church Building as City Was Destroyed – Erik Tryggestad at Religion Unplugged.


A Ukrainian priest splits Sundays between church and the front lines – Steve Hendrix and Serhii Korolchuk at Washington Post.


Famed Ukrainian medic describes ‘hell’ of Russian captivity – Lori Hinnant and Vasilisa Stepanenko at Associated Press.


A return to duty - Campaign Diary: Bedbound reflections on the ongoing brutality of war in Ukraine – Patrick Caddick-Adams at The Critic Magazine.


Life and Culture


Why Woke Organizations All Sound the Same – Gabriel Rossman at City Journal.


When Pro-Choice Stops Being Pro-Choice – Aaron Earls at The Wardrobe Door.


'It Has to Change': Small Business Owners Sound Off on Crushing Inflation – Nancy Rommelmann at Common Sense.


American Stuff


Religious liberty has a long and messy history – and there is a reason Americans feel strongly about it – Stacy Morford at The Conversation.


Horror of the Hedgerows: Thankless, Miserable, Disheartening – Francis Sempa at Real Clear History.


The End of the All-Volunteer Force? – Edward Chang at American Conservative.




On the Anniversary of My Father’s Death – Jeffrey Essmann at Society of Classical Poets.


Never Enough (from The Greatest Showman) – Karl Loxley

 Painting: A Girl Reading, oil on canvas (1884) by Frank Huddlestone Potter (1845-1887).

Friday, July 22, 2022

How to pray (part 2)

After Matthew 6:9-15

First, the focus:

to whom, for whom,

about whom. Then:

the needs to be 

expressed, including

basic stuff (like

bread). Then:


of the debts we owe

to others, thinking

debts in the broadest

sense. Then: avoidance

of temptation and

deliverance from evil.

Simply, short, direct.

But to punch home

the point, he emphasizes

forgiveness, that if you

want to be forgiven,

the lead the way,

be the example, just 

do it, yourself.


Photograph by Ben White via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

"Carnival Blues" by Damien Boyd

The Somerset Carnivals are the largest illuminated processions in the world. Detective Chief Inspector Nick Dixon of the Avon and Somerset is meeting his pregnant wife-to-be, Detective Sergeant Jane Winter, and good friend the coroner, Dr. Roger Poland. He arrives almost too late; a good part of the procession in Bridgewater has already paraded.  

Then comes the procession of a small carnival club, with members carrying squibs, fireworks attached to broom-like devices. One of the club members ignites his and is suddenly engulfed in flames, right in front of Dixon and his party. Dixon uses his coat to smother the flames; the man survives but is badly burned.


As it turns out, this was attempted murder; an accelerant was used. The man is an estate agent (what Americans would call a real estate agent). As Dixon and his police team investigate, they discover the victim was involved in a number of shady deals that cheated landowners – and providing a lengthy list of suspects. A second agent is killed, and a third disappears. Just as the police are making headway, Dixon is suspended, pending an investigation that he may have actually murdered a criminal who’d invaded his home. (It may sound like a case of arresting the victim that happens in places like New York City.)


Damien Boyd

But this is DCI Nick Dixon, and he’s not going to let something like an Internal Affairs review get in his way of solving the crimes.


Carnival Blues is the 12th mystery in the DCI Nick Dixon series by British author Damien Boyd, and it bears all the trademarks of its predecessors – solid plotting, thrilling episodes, and police bureaucrats who seem more interested in stopping than helping investigations.


Boyd uses his own experience as a legal solicitor and a member of the Crown Prosecution Service to frame his stories, and then infuses considerable research in just the right way. In the novels, Dixon had been a promising young barrister, until he chucked it all and joined the police. As it is, he’s one of the youngest detective inspectors in the Avon and Somerset police force; he’s also the most brilliant at solving cases which look unsolvable. 


Carnival Blues is one entertaining mystery.



My review of Damien Boyd’s As the Crow Flies


My review of Damien Boyd’s Head in the Sand.


My review of Damien Boyd’s Kickback.


My review of Damien Boyd’s Swansong.

My review of Damien Boyd's Dead Level.


My review of Damien Boyd’s Death Sentence.


My review of Damien Boyd’s Heads or Tails.


My review of Damien Boyd’s Dead Lock.


My review of Damien Boyd’s Beyond the Point.


My review of Down Among the Dead by Damien Boyd.


My review of Dying Inside by Damien Boyd.