Friday, September 29, 2023

Saturday Good Reads - Sept. 30, 2023

The event in question happened during the Bush Administration, was litigated during the Obama Administration, and continued through the Trump and Biden Administrations. It’s hard to get more bipartisan than that. The vent is the long-sought extradition of Julian Assange, for publishing in WikiLeaks the information provided by Chelsea Manning. Assange’s wife, Stella Assange, published an article in the London Evening Standard, and it’s worth reading to see the Assanges’ side of the story.

Author Mike Duran is publishing a second edition of his non-fiction book Christian Horror. It’s a fiction genre that has a growing body of readers, and Mike explains what’s behind the new edition.


Back in the 1980s, I discovered science fiction. I was captivated by authors like Robert Silverberg, Arthur Clarke, Jerry Pournelle, and a lot of others. I found my way to Frank Herbert and the Dune novels, and they were a marvelous read (I never thought of cinnamon in quite the same way after reading them). Ryan Britt at Literary Hub writes about how the Dune novels came to be


More Good Reads


Life and Culture


Flapper Economics – Philip Jeffrey at American Compass.


The wellspring of woke – Laurie Wastell at The Critic Magazine.


Michael Gambon was so much more than Professor Dumbledore – Alexander Larman at The Spectator.


American Stuff

Missed America: Attacking the right without asking about the left – Johann Neem at The Hedgehog Review. 

William Faulkner’s Last Words & the American Dilemma – M.E. Bradford at The Imaginative Conservative.

News Media

Forget collusion, Was “interference” also fake news? And Timeline: DARPA and the DNC Hack – Matt Taibbi at Racket News.

Writing and Literature


George Orwell: Terrific Writer, Terrible Husband – Joel Miller at Miller’s Book Review.


A Dazzling Dozen – Joseph Pearce at The Imaginative Conservative.


“To Be a Writer, You Must Write:” How Joan Didion Became Joan Didion – Evelyn McDonnell at Literary Hub




The elephant in the avant-garde – James Steven Curl at The Critic Magazine.




Crowned – Kristin Couch at The Palest Ink.


New “Gospel” Manuscript Discovered? – Michael Kruger at The Gospel Coalition.


What Smaller Churches Get Wrong When They Look at Bigger Churches – Tim Wilson at Affinity.


3 Times You Should Disobey Authority – Jonathan Leeman at Crossway.


Lives of the Wild Saints – Paul Kingsnorth at The Abbey of Misrule.




Nazi-linked veteran received ovation during Zelenskyy’s Canadian visit – Kyle Duggan at Politico. 


Crown Him with Many Crowns – Michael W. Smith

Photograph by David Lezcano via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Bread of life

After John 6:1-15. 24-40

Fed, and fed 

well, they follow 

as he walks

down the mountain, 

down to the lake. 

They find him 

on the shore

opposite, and, 

surprised he's 

there, they question

him, seeking the bread

he spoke about. 

the bread he offered, 

wanting it

always. I am 

the bread,

he says; I am 

here to feed you, 

to sustain all 

I’ve been given 

and to raise it up. 

Eat this bread, and 

you live forever.


Photograph by Sergio Contreras via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Some Friday Readings


A Pastoral Prayer About Labor and Rest – Tim Challies.


Ark – poem and artwork by Sonja Benskin Mesher.


Looking Out for Number Two – Seth Lewis.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Westminster morning

Westminster morning

The palest light, and the city

slowly wakes to the cleaner

scratching leaves raked from 

barracks' sidewalks,

the guardsmen still asleep.

A street sweeper glides by,

following the rumbles

of the trash truck. Gardeners

at the park tend to flowers

and the windy flutters 

of trash that missed the bins.

It’s been dry; the green

of the trees is graying.

Big Ben in its tower

presides in gleaming,

golden splendor, eyeing

the departure of the PM

from the rear of Downing

Street or the perhaps the fox 

startled by the revving

of police escorts. Bikers are

flying past in their lanes. 

The flag atop the palace 

stands at full mast;

the king is in residence,

and all is well.

Photograph: Big Ben in the Elizabeth Tower, viewed from the corner of Birdcage Walk and Horse Guards Palace Road, London.

Some Thursday Readings


Cloak Lane Police Station – A London Inheritance.


Walter Crane’s Windows in Clapton – Spitalfields Life.


War Memorial, St. Cuthbert’s RC Church, Durham – Barb Drummond at Curious Historian.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Some Wednesday Readings

The Grand Narrative – poem by A.F. Moritz at Kingdom Poets (D.S. Martin).  

Storms & Light at Winchester National Cemetery – Sarah Kay Bierle at Emerging Civil War.


Recovering the Sacred in Music – Robert Reilly at The Imaginative Conservative.

Painting: Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, oil on canvas (ca, 1870) by Honore Daumier (18081979), Courtaulds Museum, London.

Do You Remember the First Poetry Book You Bought?

My mother was a great one for reading aloud to her young children. Some of my earliest memories, notwithstanding putting the dog in the oven or pouring shoe polish on the sofa, are of my mother reading to me. I learned many Mother Goose nursery rhymes sitting next to her on the (repaired) sofa. Story time involved a big green book entitled Stories Children Love by Watty Piper, first published in the 1920s with the kinds of illustrations popular for children at the time. 

I still have that book. I loved the stories filled big bad wolves, evil stepmothers, giants, and ogres. The binding is now wearing thin, but it’s still intact. You can find the listing on Amazon, but it’s “currently unavailable.” 


I was the middle child, with fairly large gaps between me and my two brothers. Mother read to all three of us, but for whatever reason, I turned out to be the major reader in the family. That became a lifelong habit, and I give full credit to my mother for instilling a love of reading and books in me. 

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

Some Tuesday Readings


Light rain – poem and artwork by Sonja Benskin Mesher.


More of this, please: Ilya Kaminsky writes a poetic response to Giacometti – Janet Manley at Literary Hub.


A salvaged word – Kelly Belmonte at All Nine.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Walking this path

After Ephesians 4:1-16

Walking this path, disparate people

being knitted together into one,

one garment, one body, a body

that works as an intention

of the Lord, the body of the Lord,

pierced, a body with a purpose,

a body with a presence.


Disparate people, walking this path,

learning the way, teaching each other

the way forward, the older serving

the younger serving the older serving

the child serving the parent serving 

the sick serving the ailing serving

the aging serving the despondent

serving the strong serving the mother

serving the father serving the child

serving the older.


Disparate people walking a path,

walking in humility, walking

in gentleness, walking in patience,

walking in love for others,

walking in unity, walking

in peace, walking as one body

and one spirit and one hope

with one Lord and one baptism

and one God and one Father

of all.


The people endure the journey

as they endure each other, loving

one another. Enduring one another

makes them one.


Photograph by Iswanto Arif via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Some Monday Readings


The Death of the Literary Feud – Willian Fear at The Critic Magazine.


The Mosaic Makers of Hackney – Spitalfields Life.


The Two-Parent Advantage – W. Bradford Wilcox at CityJournal. 


Do We Need Regime Change of a Change in Heart? – John Horvat at The Imaginative Conservative.

They follow him

After John 6:1-15, 24-40

They follow him,

the thousands, from

the sea, climbing up

the mountain. His men,

knowing the feast is

at hand, are distressed:

how to feed thousands,

with almost nothing

to feed them with, except

for what a boy carries

with him, likely for 

his own meal: five loaves,

two fishes. 

He has them sit,

he has the thousands sit,

and he feeds them,

fully, with leftovers.


Photograph by Pablo Merchรกn Montes via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Some Sunday Readings


Places I Can’t Go – Karen Wade Hayes.


The Battle for the Body – Carl Trueman at First Things Magazine.


David Hoffman at St. Botolph’s Aldgate – Spitalfields Life.


The One, True, Imaginative Vision – T. Renee Kozinski at The Imaginative Conservative.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Saturday Good Reads - Sept. 23, 2023

It’s that time of the year: literary prize season. I used to follow, rather avidly, the lists of various prizes for literature, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and reporting. But times change, and so do lists. Literary lists are supposed to be about quality, and I would review whatever would win the Eliot Prize, the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and others.  Now they seem to be more about checking various political boxes. It’s unfortunate, but our literary culture is suffused with this stuff now. If you’re interested, six works made the Booker Short List, and four made the 2023 Dos Passos Prize short list. The T.S. Eliot Poetry Prize short list will be announced in a few weeks.

 Each day in October, Paul Brookes is posting a video of him reading a sonnet from his collection As Folktaletellerand inviting people to submit their own poems. 


We might moan and groan about it, but the fact is that we love the culture war. We can hanf]g out with our tribes and point out how ignorant the other side is. Pierre d’Alancaisez at The Critic Magazine argues that the culture war has become the culture


More Good Reads


Life and Culture


5 myths about mental illness – Tom Karel at Crossway.


Now is the Time to Renew History Departments – David Randall at James Martin Center.


The Woman Who Stood Up to the Porn Industry—and Won – Nancy Rommelmann at The Free Press.




Thirteen-Hour Days: Did Jonathan Edwards Neglect His Family? – Don Whitney at Desiring God. 


The Living Water: An Introduction to 50 Holy Wells – Paul Kingsnorth at The Abbey of Misrule. 


Something Flimsy as Stone – Tim Challies.


Marriage is a Steel Trap – Darryl Dash at DashHouse.


American Stuff


The Last of the Romans: Charles Carroll of Carrollton – Bradley Birzer at The Imaginative Conservative.


How Bleeding Kansas Led to the Civil War – Nadra Kareen Nittle at History.


The Heartbreaking Civil War Ballad of “Paddy’s Lament” (Part I) and Part II– Tonya McQuade at Emerging Civil War.


British Stuff


An architect for the centuries – how to share in events marking 300 years since the death of Christopher Wren– Louis Jebb at The Art Newspaper.


Northwick Church, South Gloucestershire – Barb Drummond at Curious Histories.


Writing and Literature


How much of Dickens’ London is fiction? – A.N. Wilson at The Spectator.




Night Bird Singing – Louis Groarke at Society of Classical Poets.




Exploring Grieg’s Exquisite Piano Concerto – Terez Rose at The Imaginative Conservative.




Change – Sonja Benskin Mesher.


Before the Throne of God Above – Joseph Bradshaw & Sandra McCracken

Photograph by Viktor Forgacs via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Friday, September 22, 2023

The woman weeps

After Luke 7:24-50

In the crowd, curious,

she hears him speak,

his words cutting into

her heart, burning

like hot coals, and she

stumbles away, tears

streaming, wandering

the streets, ignoring or

not hearing the usual

taunts and insults

hurled at her. She hears

nothing but his words,

burning words. She sees

him again, at the table

in the house of the Pharisee,

and she defies convention

and enters, kneeling

before the man who spoke

the words. She lets down 

her hair in submission and

love, and anoints his feet

with her tears.


Photograph by Stephany Lorena via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Some Friday Readings


Guilt, Grief, & “Metanoia” – Joseph Mussoneli at The Imaginative Conservative.


Taste and See: A Review of Christian Poetry in America Since 1940 – Eric Potter at Front Porch Republic.


From The Five Quintets – poem by Micheal O’Siadhall. 


Making the most of things: time and trajectory – Andrew Roycroft at Thinking Pastorally.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

"Murder of a Lover" by Faith Martin

Former DI Hillary Greene is continuing her work with the cold case squad at the Oxford / Kidlington Police Station. Having solved her first cold case, a 20-year-old murder, she’s now handed one that looks almost unsolvable – a 10-year-old case of an Oxford student found stabbed to death with a pair of scissors in his flat near the university. 

The detective investigating the crime at the time focused his efforts on two other students, one the victim’s girlfriend. Both also rented flats in the building. As Hillary and her team slowly peel back the layers of the past, they discover a victim who saw himself as something of a sexual athlete and with a considerable number of people, women and men, who had been hurt and might have a motive for murder. But was any of these motives strong enough for murder?


Hillary’s stalker, whom we me in the previous novel, Murder Never Retires, starts becoming more aggressive. The reader knows who he is from the start; what we learn now is that he had previously stalked other women. When the relationships didn’t go as the stalker expected, they ended very badly indeed for the women being stalked. And the stalking of Hillary is taking a turn for the dark. She and her new boss decide to fake a relationship and force the stalker into the open, except there’s very little faked from the beginning.


Faith Martin

Murder of a Lover
 is the 13th DI Hillary Greene mystery novel by Faith Martin. As with its predecessors, it’s fascinating to watch Hillary solve cases other detectives can’t, looking at facts, speculation, and motives in a completely different light. And so far, she’s solved everything handed to her. Her teams has its strengths and weaknesses – a retired police detective, a young man who’s eager to learn police work, and another student who’s less interested in the work at hand and more interested in pursuing Hillary’s boss.


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.


Murder at the University by Faith Martin


Murder of the Bride by Faith Martin.


Murder in the Village by Faith Martin.


Murder in the Family by Faith Martin.


Murder at Home by Faith Martin.


Murder in the Meadow by Faith Martin.


Murder in the Mansion by Faith Martin.


Murder by Fire by Faith Martin.


Murder at Work by Faith Martin.


Murder Never Retires by Faith Martin.

Some Thursday Readings


Myths and Legends of the London Stone – A London Inheritance.


The Generative Joys of Bookbinding – Jennifer Savran Kelly at The Millions.

How Subplots and Plot Filaments Lend Texture and Depth to Any Novel – Michael Craft at CrimeReads.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

"From Western Virginia with Jackson to Spotsyvania with Lee” by Peter Luebke

St. Joseph Tucker Randolph was 17 when the Civil War began in April 1861. He did what most young Virginians did and immediately signed up with a newly formed regiment. For a time, he participated in drills and preparations, but he also had time to continue working in the bookstore operated by his father. 

The Randolphs had a storied heritage, one of Virginia’s first families with the Lees, Carters, and Tuckers. By the time of the Civil War, however, they had fallen on harder times, operating stores and other middle-class endeavors. Perhaps it was the influence of his father’s bookstore, or his own solid education, but Tucker, as he was called in the family, began keeping a diary from April 9 through about 1863. He also wrote letters to his parents and other family letters, and he showed himself a fairly astute observer of military operations, battles, officers, and his fellow soldiers.

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

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Poets and Poems: Yvor Winters and "Selected Poems"

It was the Roaring Twenties, the age of the Lost Generation, T.S. Eliot’s poetry modernism, the Harlem Renaissance, Hemingway and Fitzgerald, speakeasies, Art Deco, keeping cool with Coolidge, and Expressionism. Everything in art and literature was fair game and often was. And young poets like Yvor Winters fit right into the moment. 

In Yvor Winters: Selected Poems, poet and critic Thomas Gunn tells us that Winters (1900-1968) began his poetry career when he was 20, and was something of a maverick, or avant garde poet. He published his first (and very short) collection, The Immobile Wind, in 1921, and followed it a year later with another short collection, The Magpie’s Shadow. He invented a poetic form, a single six-syllable line; his description of spring rain being “My doorframe smells of leaves.”

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

Some Tuesday Readings


Christina Rosetti: A Woman for All Seasons – Tessa Carman at Acton Institute. 


The Cook’s Second Tale, from The ‘Lost” Canterbury Tales – Paul Freeman at Society of Classical Poets. 


A Hobbit’s Journey Home: Crossing the Atlantic and the Tiber – Joseph Pearce at The Imaginative Conservative. 

10 Great Medieval Vibes Photos to Inspire Your Writing – Tweetspeak Poetry.

Monday, September 18, 2023

“Mining the Bright Birds: Poems” by Jody Lee Collins

In her first poetry collection, Living the Season Well, Jody Lee Collins challenged readers to consider the season of Christmas in a different way. Her second collection, Hearts on Pilgrimage, used the four seasons as metaphors for living a faithful life.  

In her third and new collection, Mining the Bright Birds, Collins considers the eternal. You reach an age when the rush and tumult of marriage-job-children-career calm down, or at least move into more serene waters. And the eternal, because it’s the eternal that’s drawing closer, becomes more important. 


She divides the collections 45 poems into four sections: Waiting Spaces, Tuning, Seasons, and Wayfinding. She uses the physical, the seasonal, the natural world, the everyday, and the spiritual as metaphors or guideposts to point the way. 


The poems reflect the time of life when most (if not all) of the shouting is over. They’re less about what you want to do with your life and more about reflection of a life lived and what lies ahead. She’s connecting, or re-connecting, to the natural world, looking to it as a compass for thinking and moving forward. And like the collection’s title indicates, the birds have much to tell us.


Avian Chorus


This shady place, shrouded

with the shushing of trees,

cathedral of water-sounds

borne on leaves.

Here is worship in the wind

bending carillon chimes,

blowing clouds, leaving blue.

Praises lift in birdsong

echoing, asking

Do you hear him?

Is He not wonderful,

our Creator God?

I concur and continue to

catch the small cacophony—

an anthem to His presence—

without any words, save those

written within me. 


Jody Lee Collins

These poems are a joy to read. They’ll resonate if you’re more along in years. They’ll encourage if you’re younger. No matter age you might be, they’ll still your spirit and your soul.


Collins retired from elementary education after a 25-year career and has written non-fiction and poetry for numerous online sites, including Altarwork, Jennifer Dukes-Lee, Grace Table, and (in)courage. She serves on the worship team at her church, and she and her family live in the Seattle area. What she has included in this compact book has been distilled from lessons she learned from her students, her children, and her grandchildren.




Living the Season Well by Jody Collins.

Some Monday Readings


East End Women at Work – Spitalfields Life.


Wind turbines may be killing whales. Why won’t Greenpeace admit it? – Matt Ridley at The Spectator.


Yesterday – artwork by Sonja Benskin Mesher.