Sunday, June 30, 2024

The voice that shakes


After Hebrews 12:18-29
 

His is the voice

that shakes the earth,

his is the voice

that shakes the heavens,

the shaking removing

what is made so that

only the unshaken

remains. The temporal

passes, crumbling into dust.

Only the true, the eternal

remains, the kingdom

that remains unshaken,

the kingdom of the one

who is the consuming

fire.

 

Photograph by Brandon Morgan via Unsplash. Used with permission.


Some Sunday Reading

 

30 Pieces of Writing Advice from C.S. Lewis – Barnabas Piper.

 

Neil Postman on Words and Images: An Antidote to Truth Decay – Douglas Groothuis at Christ Over All.

 

“Methought I Saw My Late Espoused Saint,” poem by John Milton – Joseph Bottum at Poems Ancient and Modern.

 

Some Stories Read Us: Why Jesus Spoke in Parables – Matthew Harmon at Desiring God.

 

How to Hate the Vulnerable – Samuel D. James at Digital Liturgies.

Saturday, June 29, 2024

Saturday Good Reads - June 29, 2024


Last week, I linked to an article by British historian Niall Ferguson. In his debut column for The Free Press, he made a case for the increasing Sovietization of American society. Helen Andrews at The American Conservative begs to disagree, making her own case that Ferguson seriously understated what the situation really is.  

For about five years in the early 2000s, I left corporate communications. When I returned in 2004, I discovered something really odd: PR people weren’t talking to reporters anymore. Instead, responses to reporters’ questions were provided by email, usually laden with so many corporate talking points that they were almost nonsensical. And it wasn’t only my company; something had fundamentally shifted broadly. “Could not be reached for comment” or “declined to comment” has been growing as responses as well. Paul Farhi at Columbia Journalism Review takes a look at what’s been happening, but he doesn’t really dig into why. 

 

The first bridge across the Mississippi River was the Eads Bridge, opened in 1874 and named for the engineer who designed it. It was a marvel of its time – people said it would never work and soon collapse. Which never happened. Ayn Rand, in her famous novel Atlas Shrugged, used the Eads Bridge (under another name) and all its naysayers. The Missouri History Museum is celebrating the edifice’s 150th anniversary in a video, noting that the man behind it also built ironclads for the Union during the Civil War. 

 

I will also be the only person in the Western world who declines to comment on Thursday’s presidential debate.

 

More Good Reads

 

Poetry

 

Emerson’s Grief – David Bannon at Front Porch Republic.

 

“In Summer” by Paul Laurence Dunbar – Sally Thomas at Poems Ancient and Modern.

 

Life Without Internet – Liz Snell at Rabbit Room Poetry.

 

Faith

 

Publishing Epistles: How the Apostles Wrote Their Letters – Benjamin Laird at Desiring God.

 

Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and God’s Beautiful Providence – David Prince at The Gospel Coalition.

 

Longing for Home with C.S. Lewis and Tyler Childers – Casey McCall at Remembrance of Former Days.

 

Israel, Gaza, and Anti-Semitism

 

The Pogrom on Pico Boulevard – Noah Pollak at The Free Press.

 

Israel’s Double-Edged Sword, Part III – Michael Oren at Clarity with Michael Oren.

 

American Stuff

 

History, memory and the Semiquincentennial: Musings & Reflections – Denis Brennan at The Daily Gazette.

 

The Loves of Theodore Roosevelt – Chuck Chalberg at The Imaginative Conservative.

 

Fourteen Union Heroes from a Forgotten Battle – Nigel Lambert at Emerging Civil War. 

 

Life and Culture

 

Bring Back Capitalism – Matt Taibbi at Racket News. 

 

Suppression of Dissent – Madeleine Rowley via Christopher Rufo. 

 

The Enduring American Car – Mark Mills at City Journal. 

 

The Supreme Court Punts on Censorship – Matt Taibbi at Racket News.

 

News Media

 

Assange is Free, But Never Forget How the Press Turned on Him – Matt Taibbi at Racket News.

 

Writing and Literature

 

The Literary Power of Hobbits: How JRR Tolkien Shaped Modern Fantasy – Verlyn Flieger at Literary Hub. 

 

Art 

 

The Crossing – Sonja Benskin Mesher.

 

An exclusive visit to Van Gogh’s asylum to track down the scenes he painted – Martin Bailey at The Art Newspaper.

 

You Raise Me Up – Secret Garden



 
Painting: Candlemas Day, oil on canvas (1901) by Marianne Stokes (1855-1927).

 

Friday, June 28, 2024

Two kingdoms


After Hebrews 12:18-29
 

It inspired terror,

this kingdom of fire,

a blazing fire and

billowing darkness

and gloom, a storm

of trumpet sound and

a voice so terrible

that they begged

for silence. That is

not your kingdom. 

 

Your kingdom is alive,

pulsating with hope

and life, accompanied

by angels singing

with the firstborn

singing to the Father,

singing to the Son,

singing with the righteous

made stainless, singing

of the blood sprinkled,

cleansing. That is

your kingdom.

 

Photograph by Genevieve Perron-Migneron via Unsplash. Used with permission.


Some Friday Readings

 

Older – poem by Luci Shaw at Kingdom Poets (D.S. Martin). 

 

Don’t Confuse NEW with BETTER – Michael Kelley at Forward Progress.

 

The Wandering Friar of the Appalachian Trail – Daniel Sundahl at The Imaginative Conservative. 

Thursday, June 27, 2024

"Taking Boston" by J. Steven Butler


A horrific car crash leads Pastor Jake Wilson to becoming the guardian to a nine-year-old girl. And it will eventually lead to much more – love and an attempt to disrupt his ministry. 

Wilson is 35, single, and the pastor of a large church in small-town Georgia. When his best friends from college are killed in a car accident, he becomes the guardian for their daughter, Boston. Overnight, he has to begin learning how to be a girl-dad for a child severely traumatized by the accident – she was in the back seat, and she spent hours with her parents’ dead bodies while rescuers reached the car and cut away the mangled frame to reach her.

 

The child’s life is utterly transformed. So is Jake’s. Jessica Maracle, a Sunday School teacher, reaches out to the little girl, sand she is soon reaching Jake’s heart as well. But she has a past, one she can’t seem to break free from, and she’s determined not get Jake involved in her life.

 

J. Steven Butler

It’s not like Jake doesn’t have enough problems. A growing one is the wealthiest member of the church, the man who seems to own a good chunk of the time, is used to getting his way, and decides Jake is standing in the way. Dewey Knapp becomes a bottomless pit of increasingly l=malicious actions directed against his pastor.

 

J. Steven Butler takes these threads and sews them into a compelling story in Taking Boston. It’s an engaging tale, with characters life Jake, Boston, and Jessica drawn true-to-life (even if the awful Dewey Knapp seems almost too villainous). 

 

Butler has previously published four novels in the Sweeper sci fi/fantasy/apocalypse series and is currently writing a sequel to Taking Boston. He lives with his family in Georgia.

 

Some Thursday Readings

 

Whistler in Limehouse & Wapping – Spitalfields Life. 

 

To Read a Poem Quickly & Easily – Zina Gomez-Liss at The Beauty of Things.

 

Fatty Bolger, A Local Hero – Paul Schweigl at Front Porch Republic.

 

“You Are Old, Father William,” poem by Lewis Carroll – Sally Thomas at Poems Ancient and Modern.

 

Russian Roulette: The Woman Who Bet on Dostoevsky – Joel Miller at Miller’s Book Review.


Wednesday, June 26, 2024

A Year Away from Twitter / X


Twitter was the first social media platform I joined, way back in 2008. I was far from being an early adopter, but I was one of the first people at work to sign up. 

Even that early, you could see the enormous potential for good and bad that a social media platform like Twitter could have. What we know as cancel culture developed early.

 

From 2008 to 2023, I had a consistent strategy in how I used the platform. I tweeted positive stuff. I didn’t engage in politics or controversies. I highlighted good things people were doing or writing. And I have to say I was steadfast from the beginning to the end.


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


Photograph by David Paschke via Unsplash. Used with permission.


Some Wednesday Readings

 

Failure to Thrive – Brian Miller at A South Roane Agrarian.

 

The Previous Lives of Used Books – Thea Rosenberg at Story Warren.

 

Buckner, Jr. at Gettysburg 1913 – Chris Kolakowski at Emerging Civil War.

 

Why Are the Classics Necessary? – Louise Cowan at Th imaginative Conservative.

 

In Search of the Rarest Book in American Literature: Edgar Allen Poe’s Tamarlane – Bradford Morrow at Literary Hub.

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Honeybees, Death, Grief, and Life: “The Honey Field” by Laura Boggess


Years ago, my company hired an expert on bees. Concern had been expressed about one of our product’s effect on bees and bee colony collapse was a general issue. I spent considerable time with this expert on work projects, and I learned, among many other things, that honeybees came from Europe, that Missouri is home to some 75 different kinds of bees, that most bees live in the ground, that commercial beekeepers transport hives for pollination of crops like almonds in California, and what I should plant in my home garden that bees would like. 
 

Our beekeeper expert became a good friend. And I was inspired to plant Monarda, commonly known as bee balm. It’s a member of the mint family, and it spreads like mint, so you have to manage it. And I found myself spending considerable time watching it attract bees – four different kinds, in fact, two of which were easy to identify – bumble bees and honeybees. The other two were small, almost tiny, and you had to get close to see that they were indeed bees, not gnats.

 

The Honey Field by Laura Boggess is about bees, too, but it’s also about much more. Of novella-like length, it’s a story of death and grief, illness and healing, and life and love. And food, including a few recipes. And bees, honeybees to be precise, occupying several hives in a semi-rural area.

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

Some Tuesday Readings

 

“Hyla Brook” by Robert Frost – Sally Thomas at Poems Ancient and Modern.

 

Wordsworth’s “Excursion”: 1 and Wordsworth’s “Excursion” 2: The Ruined Cottage – Adam Roberts at Adam’s Notebook.

 

Reaching for Something Beyond: Father Ian Ker and The Catholic Revival in English Literature 1845-1961 – Dermot Quinn at The Imaginative Conservative.

 

A pair of sonnets for St. John the Baptist – Malcolm Guite.

 

The Poetry Club: Bookmark It – Tweetspeak Poetry. 

I Shall Return – poem by Claude McKay at Every Day Poems.

Monday, June 24, 2024

Some Monday Readings - July 24, 2024


A Brief History of Bedlam Hospital – Robert Lloyd at CrimeReads. 

Initially – poem and artwork by Sonja Benskin Mesher.

 

The life you save may be your own – Jon Schaff at Current Magazine.

 

1 Mom, 2 Boys, and a Big, Classic Novel – Joel Miller at Miller’s Book Review.

 

Remnant Rubens – Michael Prodger at The Critic Magazine on the British folk artist George Smart. 

 

The Man in the Arena – Douglas Murray at The Free Press on the speech by Theodore Roosevelt.

 

Two Tree Island – the Last Standing Place on the Thames – A London Inheritance.

 

Saturday Wanderings – Pamela Steiner at Closed Doors, Open Windows. 

 

See Something and Say Something – Terry Whalin at The Writing Life.

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Instructions for the race


After Hebrews 12:1-17
 

Listen, runners: here are

instructions for the race.

Lift your drooping heads.

Strengthen those weak knees.

Make straight paths.

Strive for peace with all.

Strive for the holiness

known only to the Lord.

Share the grace.

Avoid bitterness.

Know your birthright is

worth more than a meal.

Accept the discipline

meant for your good.

Endure.

Endure to the end.

 

Photograph by Steve Lelham via Unsplash. Used with permission.


Some Sunday Readings

 

When Christian Groups Subvert Religious Liberty of Christians – Joe Carter at The Gospel Coalition.

 

Summer Reading for G.K. Chesterton – Joseph Pearce at The Imaginative Conservative.

 

Female Faith Poets: Where to Begin – Jody Collins at Poetry & Made Things. 

 

You’re Useless – Br. Gerard Rosario DeAngelis at The Imaginative Conservative.

 

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Saturday Good Reads - June 22, 2024


Hell hath no fury like the federal government scorned – or caught doing something embarrassing. The U.S. government has sought the extradition of Julian Assange since the Obama Administration. His crime: committing journalism. Had The New York Times done the same thing (and did, back in Daniel Ellsberg days), no federal agents would come banging at the door. But times change.  

Conservative journalist Christopher Rufo learned that Texas Children’s Hospital was doing what had been outlawed by the state legislature. He was given chapter and verse, with names blanked out, of children still being operated on for transgender purposes. He wrote about it, and wrote about it again. And the feds have now come for the young doctor who was his source, with a 10-count indictment. A legal defense fund has now been set up for the doctor.

 

“A government with a permanent deficit and a bloated military. A bogus ideology pushed by elites. Poor health among ordinary people. Senescent leaders. Sound familiar?” Historian Niall Ferguson explains how we’re all soviets now.

 

In 1861, Missouri stayed in the Union – barely. The governor tried to lead the state into secession. The move to join the Confederacy was stopped with bloodshed, and it happened here in St. Louis. Tonya McQuade at Emerging Civil War describes how the “Wide Awakes” helped keep Missouri in the Union. 

 

More Good Reads

 

Life and Culture

 

Speaking Responsibly about Religion and Politics: A Review of Who’s Afraid of Christian Nationalism? – Paul Kruse at Front Porch Republic.

 

Techno-Terror: If It Drives You to Drink, Have a Drink with Me – David Murray at Writing Boots.

 

News Media

 

Washington Post Foreign Desk, Accused of Pro-Hamas Bias, Teems with Al Jazeera Veterans – Joseph Simonson at the Washington Free Beacon.

 

Israel

 

Israel’s Double-Edged Sword (Part II) – Michael Oren at Clarity with Michael Oren.

 

Faith

 

Let’s Hear It for the Second Parents – Tim Challies.

 

O, Brother – Sean Dietrick at Sean of the South.

 

Observations on Exvangelicals and Deconstructing – Jake Meador at Mere Orthodoxy.

 

The Man Who Introduced Evangelicals to C.S. Lewis – Justin Taylor at The Gospel Coalition.

 

Writing and Literature

 

Shakespeare Wrote Shakespeare – Henry Oliver at The Common Reader.

 

Reading War and Peace in Both War and Peace – Joel Miller at Miller’s Book Review.

 

The Taste of Strawberries: Tolkien’s Imagination of the Good – Jeffrey Bilbro at The Imaginative Conservative.

 

Metaphor Magic: Wield Your Pen Like a Wand – Ann Kroeker, Writing Coach.

 

British Stuff

 

The Markets of Old London – Spitalfields Life.

 

Defend Christian private schools – Steve Beegoo at The Critic Magazine.

 

Poetry

 

"Telling the Bees" by John Greenleaf Whittier – Sally Thomas at Poems Ancient and Modern.

 

The Lord is by My Side – CityAlight



Painting: A Good Read, oil on canvas by Theodoros Ralli (1852-1909).

Friday, June 21, 2024

Discipline has a purpose


After Hebrews 12:1-17
 

We are children, learning;

we are children inevitably

wayward, choosing the wrong,

ignoring the right. Because

we are loved, we are

disciplined.

 

It is sons who are disciplined,

sons and daughters, heirs,

disciplined to be trained

to endure the race,

the discipline running

with us in the race, keeping

in our lanes, propelling

us forward, training

us all the way, training

us because he loves

us.

 

Photograph by Candra Winata via Unsplash. Used with permission.


Some Friday Readings

 

Entropy of the Modern Mind – Greg Doles at Chasing Light.

 

From The Finding of the True Cross – hymn by Yared at Kingdom Poets (D.S. Martin). 

 

Fisher of Men – poem by Chris Slaten at Rabbit Room Poetry.

 

The Uselessness of Prayer – Trevin Wax at The Gospel Coalition.

 

Sacred Heart – artwork by Jack Baumgartner at The School for the Transfer of Energy. 


A Taste of Honey, Poetry & Love: An Interview with Laura Boggess - T.S. Poetry.

Thursday, June 20, 2024

"From the Ashes" by Damien Boyd


An elderly widow has been found dead in her home. The attending doctor diagnoses natural causes, but a rather clever young policewoman tells her partner that they’re to report any death of an elderly person, according to a note on the Avon and Somerset Police Department’s intranet. They do, and soon enough, Detective Chief Inspector Nick Dixon visits the scene. And he quickly sees that the woman has been strangled.  

A similar case had been reported in a neighboring police jurisdiction, that of an elderly man initially believed to have died of natural causes. It turned out that he, too, had been strangled. A regional task force is created, and Dixon is made an Acting Superintendent so that Avon and Somerset can keep control.

 

Both victims were teachers from the same seaside community. They taught at different schools but likely knew each other. But Dixon and his team, which includes his partner Jane Winters now six-months pregnant with their child, can’t find anything else that might be a connecting point or a reason for their deaths. That is, until there’s a third murder, and a chance remark leads to the first breakthrough in the case.

 

Damien Boyd

The victims played for the same bridge club team. And, 20 years before, they were all in Torquay for a tournament the night the tournament hotel burned down, killing three people. And it’s that discovery from which Dixon moves the investigation forward. 

 

From the Ashes is the 14th DCI Nick Dixon mystery by British writer Damien Boyd, and it’s a clear winner in the series. Boyd keeps Dixon (and the reader) guessing as he builds the tension and then brings the story together in a thrilling conclusion.

 

Boyd uses his own experience as a legal solicitor and a member of the Crown Prosecution Service to frame his stories. And that knowledge and experience is telling. He understands how policemen do their work, how prosecutions operate, and what happens when a former tax lawyer (Dixon) brings his very unorthodox thinking to police work. 

 

Boyd has to do a 15th entry in the series; we want to find out about Nick and Jane’s wedding, the baby, the politics at police headquarters. And we want another cracking good tale.

 

Related:


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.

 

My review of Carnival Blues by Damien Boyd.

 

My review of Death Message by Damien Boyd

 

Some Thursday Readings

 

Nicholas Kristoff tries to figure out who destroyed the West Coast – Stephen Miller at The Spectator.

 

Yesterday’s Men: The death of the mythical method – Alan Jacobs at Harper’s Magazine.

 

The odd couple: Evelyn Waugh and Graham Greene – Jeffrey Meyers at The Critic Magazine.

 

Red Marks, a Dark Teesside short story by Glenn McGoldrick, is free on Amazon today.

 

What Comes After Liberalism? – John Horvat at The Imaginative Conservative. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

The Unexpected Ballerina


The summer issue of Cultivating Oaks Press is live online, and the theme is courage. It includes a short story I wrote, "The Unexpected Ballerina." The issue is chock full of articles, poems, photography, and more by Annie Nardone, Junius Johnson, Maribeth Barber Albritton, Amelia Friedline, Kris Comely, Justin Lee Parker, Amy Wevodau Malskeit, Rob Jones, and more, under the general editorship of Lancia Smith. It's a wonderful issue.

How I Came to Social Media


It was work that originally led me to sign up for Twitter and other social media platforms. For a number of years, social media became my work. Even when I retired, I was still managing the company’s social media platforms. 

From 2003 to 2004, I spent nine months working in communications for St. Louis Public Schools, which was in dire straits. Enrollment had declined to an official 40,000 from a peak of about 100,000, and the district was still operating school buildings, a headquarters building, and an administrative staff that supported a 100,000 enrollment. A management firm was hired by a reform school board to take over and do the painful stuff that had to be done. The management firm was in place all of two days when it discovered that the district was bankrupt.


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


Photograph by Sara KurfeƟ via Unsplash. Used with permission.


Some Wednesday Readings

 

R.E. Lee, the father: Great tickle fighter and more – JoAnna McDonald at Emerging Civil War. 

 

How Normandy Remembers the Only U.S. Military Chaplain Killed on D-Day – Blake Stilwell 

at Military.com. 

 

Book Notes: Union General Daniel Butterfield – Civil War Books & Authors. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

A Poetic Masterwork: "The Shield of Achilles" by W.H. Auden


In 1948, poet W.H. Auden (1907-1973) received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for The Age of Anxiety, a long poem in six parts that addressed the search for identity and meaning in an industrialized world that was constantly changing. His poetry was already recognized as among the very best being published; the native-born Englishman and naturalized American occupied the top, or almost top, of the poetic literary world.
 

The poem reflects an event in Auden’s life that would become more pronounced as he grew older. He had embraced religious faith, and his poetry was increasingly reflecting that acceptance. But his poetry was also developing into a more cohesive entity, with poems informing and relating to each other in a directed and consistent way. 

That cohesiveness (critics usually call it coherence) blossomed into full maturity with Auden’s 1955 collection The Shield of Achilles. It’s a remarkable work, not only for how the individual poems relate to each other but for Auden’s mastery of language that is often stunning.

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

Some Tuesday Readings

 

The Necessity of Continual Pitching – Terry Whalin at The Writing Life.

 

Grandmother – poem by Eva Salzman at Every Day Poems.

 

6.16.2024 – poem by Paul Wittenberger at Paul’s Substack.

 

How to Sell Your Next Book – Harvey Stanbrough at The New Daily Journal. 

James Boswell’s East End – Spitalfields Life.