Wednesday, August 31, 2022

"The Way is Made by Walking" by Arthur Paul Boers

Sometime about 2005, Arthur Paul Boers went on a hike. Not just any hike, but the 500-mile-long Camino de Santiago in northern Spain. Already an experienced hiker, he made the journey in 31 days. And he wrote about his experience. 

But he didn’t simply write a travel diary of what he saw and where he stayed. Instead, The Way is Made by Walking: A Pilgrimage Along the Camino de Santiago is about the experience of pilgrimage itself, what it means and signifies, and what the idea of pilgrimage suggests for the Christian life. It isn’t a primer on pilgrimage, or even a step-by-step guide to the Camino de Santiago. This is the Christian life as a pilgrimage.


Boers explains why he was drawn to pilgrimage, its Christian roots, and its lessons for spirituality. Like the pack he carried on his back, a pilgrimage is always about the need to simplify, carrying with us only what’s vital and necessary. (He became such a stickler on this point that he tore out sections of the book he read along the way as soon as he finished reading them. The book was Don Quixote.) 


He goes on to consider the challenges of faithful pilgrimage, the opportunities for hospitality, what happens even to secular seekers along the way, and how to put pilgrimage into daily practice. And he sees walking as a spiritual practice.


Arthur Paul Boers

Just so you know, Boers also wrote about the blisters on his feet, the good and bad food, and some nice places to sleep along with those he’d rather forget about. And four appendices discuss recovering and reclaiming Christian pilgrimage, planning a pilgrimage, some well-known pilgrimage destinations, and resources specific to the Camino itself. 


The book, first published in 2007, so impressed the late Eugene Peterson that he wrote the foreword. 


Boers is an ordained minister and Benedictine oblate, and he served for many years as a pastor in rural, urban, and church-planting settings.  He served for six years he held the R.J. Bernardo Family Chair of Leadership at Tyndale Seminary in Toronto, Canada, and taught pastoral theology at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana. He’s also published Our Work, God’s WorldLiving into Focus: Choosing What Matters in an Age of Distraction; and Servants and Fools: A Biblical Theology of Leadership.  He received his D. Min, degree with distinction from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, and he also holds degrees in pastoral counseling and peace studies.


You don’t have to travel to Spain and walk the Camino de Santiago to appreciate The Way is Made by Walking. You can practice the idea of pilgrimage in your own neighborhood or town. And while the 500-mile Camino might be too challenging, I’m thinking about the 120-mile path from Winchester to Canterbury. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

The Jacobson Center at Smith College – Making the most of Students’ Education

When she was 15, Joan Leiman Jacobson entered Smith College at the age of 15. She graduated in 1947. A native of New York, Mrs. Jacobson spent more of her life in New York City. She also spent most of her life as a passionate promoter of writing and poetry.  

We became interested in Mrs. Jacobson in a roundabout way. She and her husband endowed the Jacobson Center for Writing, Teaching and Learning at Smith CollegeSara Eddy, Tweetspeak Poetry’s Summer Lights Poet this year, works at the center as the assistant director and Writing Enriched Curriculum Specialist. 


The members of the center’s staff are drawn from the college’s faculty. Several of them are lecturers in English language and literature. They specialize in specific areas of writing – science writing, technology, general writing, public speaking, and multilingual writing. 

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

Photograph by Aaron Burden via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Monday, August 29, 2022

"Five Decembers" by James Kestrel

Yes, it is one lurid cover, suitable for a noir novel of the 1940s or 1950s.  

But that’s what Five Decembers by James Kestrel is – a noir novel of the 1940s. It’s also a great mystery, winner of the 2022 Edgar Award for Best Novel by the mystery Writers of America. And it’s a flat-out great story, escaping the mystery genre and taking the reader to the real-life days of World War II in the Pacific.


Joe McGrady is a police detective in Honolulu. It’s late November 1941, right before Thanksgiving. Joe is a military veteran and not your “come-up-through-the-department’ policeman. He doesn’t like how some cops get confessions, but he keeps his head down.


He’s called to a murder, a particularly gruesome one involving a college student and a young woman. Both have been tortured before being killed. The college student turns out to be the nephew of the commanding admiral at Honolulu. The girl is of Japanese heritage. How they came together, and how they managed to get tortured and killed, is a mystery. 


Kames Kestrel

Joe is given the case, with the blessing of the admiral, who wants to know who killed his nephew. He also wants the killer or killers brought to justice, inside or outside a courtroom. Joe’s commanding officer at the police department would just as soon seen the case filed away. But because of the pressure from the admiral, and clues left behind by one of the killers, Joe begins a journey, island hopping across the western Pacific to track the killer. He ends up in Hong Kong, and in a jail, no less, on Dec, 8, 1941, which across the International Date Line is Dec. 7, 1941 in Hawaii. Hong Kong is under siege by the Japanese. And soon Joe finds himself on a slow boat – bound for Tokyo.


It's the kind of story that’s difficult to put down, for things like sleep and eating. Joe will return to Honolulu at war’s end, but what happens in between makes him determined to solve his case. And for good measure, Kestrel throws in two possible love stories. 


James Kestrel is the pen name for author Jonathan Moore. He’s led a rather eclectic professional life – bar owner, criminal defense investigator, and now an attorney practicing throughout the Pacific. He’s lived in Taiwan, New Orleans, and West Texas, and currently lives in Volcano, on the big island of Hawaii. 


If you’re looking for an exciting, riveting, noir novel about World War II, read Five Decembers, lurid cover and all. Even if you’re not, read it anyway. It’s that good of a story.

Sunday, August 28, 2022

The log and the speck

After Matthew 7:1-6

You see it; it’s obvious,

the speech in his eye,

the flaw in his character,

the behavior so objectionable,

the preference so distasteful,

the affinity so obnoxious,

the comment so ignorant,

the belief so ridiculous,

the choice so misguided,

the heresy so malignant,

the lie so obvious,

the politics so deplorable.

So much to criticize,

and so little time.


But that speck, that mite,

is insignificant compared

to the attitude that judges

first and asks questions

later, that log of prejudice

that comes from the unjustified

sense of superiority, that log

that blinds your eyes

and closes your heart.


Photograph by Alex Kadrow via Unsplash. Used with permission.


Saturday, August 27, 2022

Saturday Good Reads - Aug. 27, 2022

Years ago, when I was writing executive speeches, I would get the correspondence to the CEO that no one was quite sure what to do with. Like the letters from the members of an eighth-grade class in San Francisco protesting something the company might or might not have done. Reading the letters, which had been sent by the teacher in a batch in one large envelope, I could see it was an assignment from an English class. The letters were handwritten, most of them in block print with spelling often so bad that you couldn’t understand the words. I thought back to my own eight-grade English class, where we were learning how to diagram sentences, reading The Old Man and the Sea and The Great Gatsby, and debating literary topics. At Athwart Magazine, Mark Bauerlein remembers what it was like before the teaching of English and literature became politicized.  

Tim Challies, a widely popular writer on Reformed Christianity, lives and works in Toronto. He’s always worth reading. He has kept his children in public schools; the two oldest graduated from the public school system. His youngest, a daughter, is beginning her junior year in high school. Suddenly, Tim and his wife discovered they were now homeschoolers, and it wasn’t their decision


Israeli and American archaeologists working near the sea of Galilee were excavating a fourth-century basilica, and discovered an inscription. The basilica, built during the reign of Constantine, the first Christian emperor of Rome, may have been constructed over the home of the Apostles Peter and Andrew.


I’d also direct your attention to this week’s highlighted video, not only for the singer’s amazing voice but also for how the video transforms the song.


More Good Reads




On Rainy Nights – Janice Canerdy at Society of Classical Poets.


Found – poem by Frederick Buechner at Kingdom Poets (D.S. Martin).


Life and Culture


David McCullough, America’s Storyteller – Hans Zeiger at Real Clear History.


August 22, 1969: The Beatles Final Photo Shoot – Maria Popova at The Marginalian.


Just Us, Again: A Day in the Life of the Quiet House – David Murray at Writing Boots.


Saturday Night Lights – Jake Meador at Mere Orthodoxy.


Reality’s Bite: Responding to the Reality Privilege Argument – Joshua Pauling at Front Porch Republic.




Do Not Be Ashamed (a poem by Wendell Berry) – Andrew Wilson at Think Theology.


Adopt a Different Platform Growth Strategy – Katie Blackburn at The Gospel Coalition. 




Ukrainian Clergy Say Russian Occupiers Target Them with Threats, Violence – Ian Lovett at Wall Street Journal.


Church in the Trenches: 6 Months of Wartime Ministry in Ukraine – Jamie Dean at The Gospel Coalition.


Ukraine is the first streaming service war – Matt Purple at The Spectator.


Writing and Literature


The Ironies and Absurdities of Vladimir Sorokin – Arya Roshanian at Gawker.


A cautionary tale: The lot of the writer today is one of insecurity, wounded pride and dwindling returns – The Secret Author at The Spectator.


How Many Errorrs Are in This Essay? – Ed Simon at The Millions.


I Don’t Think You Should Publish Your Book on Substack – Samuel D. James at Digital Liturgies.


On Writing a Novel Set During WWII-Era France to Honor Family History – Mark Pryor at CrimeReads.


Empty Chairs at Empty Tables’ from ‘Les Miserables’ – Cormac Thompson

 Painting: A Woman Reading a Newspaper, oil on canvas (1891) by Norman Garstin (1847-1926).

Friday, August 26, 2022

A simple question

After Matthew 7:1-6

A simple question, really,

a question of judgment,

specifically, our own. It is

not understanding or

discernment we’re talking

about here, but something

harder, something carrying

more potential damage,

implying a combination

of suspicion, belief, 

accusation, determination,

sentence, and execution,

everything rolled up

together into a unit

of destruction. For those

of us prone to this,

i.e. all of us, it becomes

the standard by which

we, too, will be measured.

Through some strange quirk,

the standard by which we

judge becomes the standard

by which we are judged. It’s

no wonder that ostriches stick

their heads in the ground.


Photograph by Bill Oxford via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

"Murder at the University" by Faith Martin

A young woman student is found dead in her room at St. Anselm’s College in Oxford. She was a scholarship student from France; her father as a pharmacist and could never have afforded the college cost.  

But to DI Hillary Greene and her team, some things look downright odd. It’s not a drugs-related death; only one pinprick is found on her arm and the girl was known to hate drugs. Her closets and drawers are filled with high-priced clothes, way too expensive for a scholarship student. And her key ring contains two keys that don’t seem to fit anything.


When the medical examiner reports that there’s bruising on her back consistent with being held down and an injection forced, and death was due to crack laced with an experimental version of warfarin, a rat poison, Greene knows they’re dealing with murder. 


Faith Martin

Murder at the University
 by Faith Martin is the second novel in the DI Hillary Greene series, and it’s a story of nothing being what it looks like. The victim will turn out to have a significant course of income that almost no one knew about, the head of a local prostitution ring may be involved, and floating in the background is a raid by activists on an animal lab. Greene herself is still dealing with the fallout of her now-dead former husband being a bent cop. And the policeman who investigated her as part of the Internal Affairs probe is being transferred to the Kidlington police force, and he may have more than a professional interest in DI Greene.


In addition to the DI Hillary Greene novels, Martin (a pen name for Jacquie Walton) has also published the Ryder and Loveday novels as well as the Jenny Sterling mysteries. Under the name Joyce Cato, she has published several non-series detective stories. Both Cato and Martin are also pen names for Walton. (Walton has another pen name as well – Maxine Barry, under which she wrote 14 romance novels.) A native of Oxford, she lives in a village in Oxfordshire.




Murder on the Oxford Canal by Faith Martin.


A Fatal Obsession by Faith Martin.


A Fatal Mistake by Faith Martin.


A Fatal Flaw by Faith Martin.


A Fatal Secret by Faith Martin.


A Fatal Truth by Faith Martin.


A Fatal Affair by Faith Martin.


A Fatal Night by Faith Martin.


A Fatal End by Faith Martin.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

How Research Fills the Gaps in a Family Story

The idea has been in my head for years – a story about my great-grandfather. But I knew only a few facts about him, passed down by my father. Research has filled it in – a little bit. 

Too young to enlist as a regular soldier, he’d been a messenger boy in the Civil War. He’d lost two brothers and a brother-in-law in the war, leaving him the youngest and surviving son. When the war ended in 1865, he had been “someplace east,” likely North Carolina rather than Appomattox. He had to walk home to southern Mississippi. When he arrived, he discovered his family was gone, having fled to Texas.


That was as much as I knew. When I finally decided to consider a story about him, I turned first to the family Bible, with its records of births, deaths, and marriages.  The records, written over a period of 50 years, were in the same hand – my great-grandfather’s. They proved more revealing that I’d realized.


To continue reading, please see my post today at the ACFW blog


Photograph hy by Anne Nygard via Unsplash. Used with permission.


Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Poets and Poems: Colm Tóibín and “Vinegar Hill”

Vinegar Hill is two places representing two things. It’s the site of a battle in 1798 during the Irish Rebellion, in which Irishmen battled against, and lost to, the troops of George III. The site of the battle is just north of Wexford in Ireland, where Colm Tóibín would be born in 1955. And Vinegar Hill is the name of a neighborhood in Brooklyn, next to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, that had a large Irish American population (so large that New Yorkers referred to it as Irishtown).  

The title poem of the poetry collection Vinegar Hill published by Tóibín refers to the site of the battle. “We can see the hill from our house. /” he writes. “It is solid rock in the mornings / As the sun appears from just behind it. / It changes as the day does.” His mother, taking art classes, is trying to paint the hill, but the hill keeps changing. And Tóibín, trying to describe the color, decides there’s no point in invoking history.

The collection has so many American-set poems, and the poet has so many American connections, that the title easily shares connections to that Brooklyn neighborhood. What the two Vinegar Hills share is the hopes and dreams of the Irish people.

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

Monday, August 22, 2022

"Signal Moon" by Kate Quinn

Lily Baines is a Y Station Girl, based at Withernsea on the Yorkshire coast. Her job is maddingly boring – to listen for transmissions in German from ships in the North Sea. Most of what she hears is static, but occasionally she hears German sailors and officers passing information. Mostly boring, yes, but what she and all the other Y Station girls hear is fed into Bletchley Park, where codes are being cracked in the effort to defeat the Germans in World War II. 

Lily happens to have an old radio transmitter, courtesy of her father. It’s illegal to possess one; she could get into serious trouble if it’s discovered. Except one night in 1943, she hears a very different kind of transmission. The voice is American; a ship is reported to be missing and they’re searching. And then comes the biggest shock of all. The transmission is coming from 2023, 80 years into the future.


Kate Quinn

She makes a connection with the owner of the voice, one Matt Jackson who works in radio transmissions about the USS Colin Powell. Eventually overcoming mutual shock at the years separating them, they come to realize that Lily may be able to help determine what happened with the missing ship – and prevent another world war.


Signal Moon is a short story by author Kate Quinn. Based on historical events (there were indeed Y Station girls who monitored German ships), it is a delightful, fast-paced story, filled with historical information about the period and completely realistic. And it’s also something of a love story, with hero and heroine separated by 80 years in time.


Quinn is the author of several novels in the historical fiction genre. She’s published four books in the Empress of Rome Saga, two in the Italian Renaissance, and four set in the 20th century. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Classical Voice from Boston University. She lives with her family in San Diego.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Seek first

After Matthew 6:25-34

Before food, before drink,

before clothes, before shelter,

before happiness, before comfort,

seek first the kingdom,

seek first the righteousness,

seek first the kingdom,

seek first the righteousness,

and all these other, lesser things

will be added. You are 

the treasure; seek and you 

will find; seek and you

will be found.


Photograph by Noah Windler via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Saturday Good Reads - Aug. 20, 2022

The famed Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins (the stereotype of every author’s favorite editor) once said that out of all the authors he worked with – F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe, and more), only one never needed editing. That was Willard Huntington Wright, aka S.S. Van Dine, creator of the Philo Vance mysteries. Ragnar Jonasson at CrimeReads takes a look at the author, creator of one of the most famous fictional detectives of the Golden Age of Mystery.  

Imperial Russia, for the last 30 years of its life, experienced a rather curious reality: as terrorism and sadistic murder of government officials and citizens escalated, the country’s elites were increasingly supporter of the terrorists. When the collapse finally arrived during World War I, the elites soon discovered what 30 years of adulation and support really meant. Read Gary Saul Morson at First Things Magazine on “Suicide of the Liberals.” 


If I kept a list of favorite authors, Frederick Buechner would be way up high on it. The author of the novels Brendan,Godric, and The Storm, and non-fiction like The Magnificent DefeatA Room Called RememberNow and Then, and so many more, died this past week at age 96. Buechner told great stories, both real and fictional. At Faith & Leadership, L. Roger Owens describes what he learned about storytelling from Buechner.


More Good Reads




Whistler in the East End – Spitalfields Life.


Writing and Literature


Middlemarch Marriages: The fraught marriages of George Eliot’s novel point to a better definition of love and sainthood – Sarah Clarkson at Plough Quarterly.


Piers Plowman and the Possibilities of Poetry – Andrew Roycroft at The Rabbit Room.


Life and Culture


The West is homeless: We're no longer willing to sacrifice our desires – Paul Kingsnorth at UnHerd.


The Most Elusive Knowledge: Knowing What You Don’t Know – Aaron Earls at The Wardrobe Door.


The Elite Panic of 2022 – Martin Gurri at CityJournal.


Salman Rushdie and the Social Media Fatwa – Carl Trueman at First Things Magazine.


Why I Left Academia (Since You Were Wondering) – William Deresiewicz at Quillette.




Scallop Shell – Grace Schulman at Literary Matters.




“No freedom in these ruins:” Four poems of war – Marianna Kiyanovska at Literary Hub.


Ukraine is convinced that time is on its side. So is Russia – Daniel DePetris at The Spectator.


Ukrainian Seminary President: 400 Baptist Churches Gone – Diana Chandler at Christianity Today Magazine.


A young Russian soldier has written a scathing account of Putin’s inept war – Jonny Diamond at Literary Hub.




7 Reasons Why the Gospel of John is So Special – Michael Kruger at Canon Fodder. 


Never Shop on an Empty Soul – D. Eaton at Fight of Faith.


Your Love – Dulce Pontes, Once Upon a Time in the West by Ennio Morricone

Illustration: An Old Man Reading, etching and drypoint on laid paper (1642) by Ferdinand Bol (1616-1680)

Friday, August 19, 2022

The flowers

After Matthew 6:25-34

Consider the lily, perhaps the rose.

Nothing made by human hand

is so beautiful, so intricately 

designed and wrought as a lily

or a rose. Nothing. Flowers

serve as dinner tables, and yet

no dinner table was as elaborately

designed as a flower. They sway

in the breeze, their beauty

shimmering and often startling,

unmatched by anything we

humans put our hands to.


And you are loved

more than flowers.

You are cared for

more than flowers.

Let tomorrow worry

about tomorrow;

consider the flower.


Photograph by Mikael Garcia via Unsplash, Used with permission.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

"The Mazaroff Murder" by J.S. Fletcher

Mervyn Hoyt is a former army officer in World War I. He’s drifting a bit, not sure what he’ll do next. The war has been over for more than three years when a friend encourages him to answer an advertisement. Salim Mazeroff, a wealthy man from South Africa, is in Britain and seeking a traveling companion around the country. Hundreds of people apply, but Hoyt is the one selected. 

Mazaroff is obviously and almost naively wealthy. He peels money from a wad he carries in his pocket. He’s known to carry loose diamonds, the business where he made his fortune. In fact, one of the reasons he’s in Britain is to sell a pair of blue diamonds, and he’s carrying one of them around with him. 


They reach northern England, not far from the Scottish border. While staying a few days at a country inn, Mazaroff tells his traveling companion than his real name is Merchion, that he grew up in the area, and that, 20 years before, he abruptly left his wife after only a month of marriage because neither of them really loved the other. And there’s a daughter. 


J.S. Fletcher

A might later, Mazaroff goes for a walk, and he doesn’t return. Search parties are sent out, and his body is found. All of his valuables – cash, loose diamonds, watch – are missing, presumably stolen. It takes a day or two to learn, but Mazaroff was also carrying his last completed will. It’s also missing.


The Mazaroff Murder by J.S. Fletcher was first published in 1922. It’s a fast-paced, something-is-always-happening kind of story, with each chapter surprising the reader with something new and unexpected. The second half of the book moves the narrative to London, with even more surprises in store. And for good measure, Fletcher throws in a budding romance between Hoyt and the daughter Mazaroff never knew he had.


Fletcher (1863-1935) was a British journalist who began writing detective novels in 1914. Over the next 20 years, he wrote more than 100 of them, and is considered today one of the great writers of the Golden Age of the mystery and detective novel (roughly 1920s to the 1940s). He also wrote more than 130 other works, including poetry and non-fiction, but he is best remembered for his mysteries.




My review of J.S. Fletcher’s The Middle of Things.


My review of The Middle Temple Murder by J.S. Fletcher.