Sunday, April 21, 2024

Why trust?

After Hebrews 6:13-20


Why trust, you ask,

why believe that

a promise made

eons ago will be

delivered? Time passes,

cries made in pain

seem met with



I tell you this:

the promise will come,

the promise is coming.

It was made

with an oath; 

it was made with

perfect character;

it was made with

the sacrifice

of the son. 

Photograph by Jannis Lucas via Unsplash. Used with permission

Some Sunday Readings


Debunking Four Retirement Myths – Kristin Brown at the Institute for Faith, Work, & Economics. 


Poetry: The Spiritual Terrain of David Middleton – James Matthew Wilson at The Catholic World Report.


Rome Is Not Our Home: Live Counterculturally During Election Season – Pete Nicholas at The Gospel Coalition.


Saturday, April 20, 2024

Saturday Good Reads - April 20, 2024

I’m sure the people at National Public Radio feel like they’ve had better weeks. After business editor Uri Berliner’s essay in The Free Press last week, NPR CEO Katherine Maher suspended him for five days without pay. Then Berliner resigned. The conservative and independent press took a look at Maher and her history on social media, including what was called her “guide to the holidays.” Stephen Miller at The Spectator asked where all of Berliner’s defenders in the news media might be, while Matt Taibbi at Racket News took both The New York Times and NPR to task for burying the story’s lede. And Jonathan Turley at The Hill asked the biggest question overall (in my humble opinion): Should NPR rely on listeners rather than taxpayers like you? 

Boeing’s woes continue, with another whistleblower testifying about safety problems with the 777 and the 787 Dreamliner (like what we usually fly when we go to London). Maureen Tkacik at The American Prospect took a look at the revised statement by the whistleblower found dead of an alleged self-inflicted gunshot wound. And she describes what Boeing did to the guys who remember how to build a plane. And I keep thinking, this is Boeing!


Netflix has done what I thought was impossible: created a movie version of One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. You can watch the trailer here


More Good Reads




How Did the War Begin? With Iran’s Appeasers in Washington – Michael Oren at The Free Press.


Leonard Cohen: Hippie Troubadour and Forgotten Reactionary – Simon Lewson at The Walrus reviews Who by Fire by Matti Friedman. 


Passover 5784, reliving ancient history – David Horowitz at The Times of Israel.


Life and Culture


Inside the disinformation industry – Freddie Sayers at UnHerd.




James Matthew Wilson on Bookmaking – Let Go the Goat. 


Wobbly, I am – John Kerrigan at London Review of Books on The Letters of Seamus Heaney, edited by Christopher Reid.


“Break, Break, Break,” poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson – Joseph Bottum at Poems Ancient and Modern.


Writing and Literature


Anthony Horowitz on Giving Himself a Role in His Latest Mystery – John Valeri at Crime Reads.


Think AI Is Bad for Authors? The Worst is Yet to Come – Mike Trigg at Writer’s Digest


Faith and Russian Literature – Gary Saul Morson at First Things Magazine.


Eugene Vodolazkin on the Puppeteering of History – Joshua Hren at Church Life Journal.




It’s Okay to Be a Two-Talent Christian – Tim Challies.


Your Faith is Secondhand – T.M. Suffield at Nuakh.


American Stuff


Taps: How a Medal of Honor Recipient Gave America Its Most Famous Military Bugle Call Ever – Stephen Ruiz at 


British Stuff


In the Roof of St. Paul’s – Spitalfields Life. 


Sancte Michael – Gregorian Chant by Gloriae Dei Cantores

Painting: Reading the Standard, oil on canvas by Charles Spencelayh (1865-1958).

Friday, April 19, 2024

An oath, a promise

After Hebrews 6:13-20

He swears an oath,

he makes a promise,

an oath, a promise

given in his name,

because no one is

greater. The man

receives the oath,

the promise, and he

waits, patiently,

because he knows

they are good,

they will be made

good. The promise 

would be realized;

the promise would be



Photograph by Marcus Spiske via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Some Friday Readings


Anne Askew – featured poet at Kingdom Poets (D.S. Martin).


You Know the Way – Cody Ilardo at Power & Glory.


To Welcome a Stain – Seth Lewis.


Vespers – Anna Friedrich at Rabbit Room Poetry.


“Fides, Spes,” poem by Willa Cather – Sally Thomas at Poems Ancient and Modern.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

"Letter from the Dead" by Jack Gatland

It starts at a funeral. Detective Inspector Declan Walsh watches as the coffin of his father, retired Chief Superintendent Patrick Walsh, is lowered into the ground. The man died in what was determined to be a roadway accident; Declan suspects it was murder.  

Declan’s own police career is problematic at best. He’s been suspended, ostensibly for punching a priest involved in a dognapping scheme. He knows, as does everyone on the force, that it was Declan’s uncovering a number of corrupt police officers. His choices look limited indeed, until his father’s former DCI, Alexander Monroe, offers an opportunity – joining what is a cold case squad based in the Temple area of central London. It’s a squad of police misfits, including Monroe himself, people chucked away from the primary police force for reasons of embarrassment, politics, or career missteps. They call themselves the “Last Chance Saloon.”


The first case Declan works on is a murder from 20 years previously. A wealthy woman was pushed to her death from the roof of the family estate. Her husband was convicted and sent to prison. The death happened during a fundraiser for the Labour Party, and three then-rising political stars were possibly involved as well. One is now homeless and living on the streets of London. One became a YouTube religious personality. And the third may become Britain’s next prime minister.


Jack Gatland

What reopens the case is a letter – a letter from the dead woman written shortly before her murder. The letter was found in old police files. And no one can explain why it was never investigated. It suggests that the killer may be someone other than her convicted husband, who died in prison from cancer. And the letter will take Declan and his team on a whirlwind of a case, with implications for the police, the people originally involved, and the British government.


Letter from the Dead is the first of the currently 18 DI Declan Walsh mysteries by British writer Jack Gatland. Gatland is the pen name for bestselling writer Tony Lee, who’s written comics, graphic novels, audio drama, TV and film series, the BBC and ITV, and a host of publishers. In addition to the Declan Walsh series, he’s also published four novels in the Ellie Reckless series, six in the Tom Marlowe series, and several others. The 19th Declan Walsh novel is to be published in June 2024.


I’m always looking for a new mystery series, and Letter from the Dead suggests I’ve found a real gem. 


Some Thursday Readings


A Bloody-Minded Business: Julian Symons Evolution as a Crime Fiction Critic – Curtis Evans at CrimeReads.


The Microcosm of London – Spitalfields Life.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Some Wednesday Readings

Science and Poetry: William Blake and the Doctrine of Double Truth
 – Joseph Bottum at Poems Ancient and Modern. 

The Real War in the Mideast Comes into Focus – Matti Friedman at The Free Press.


The Inescapable Melancholy of Phone Boxes – Spitalfields Life.


The Venerable Bede – England’s First Great Historian – Dana Huntley at British Heritage.


An Oration on the Scholar’s Mission – Orestes Brownson at The Imaginative Conservative (speech first given in 1843 at Dartmouth College. 


Can the “Everyone is a Spy” Bill be Stopped? – Matt Taibbi at Racket News.


Among the missing, among the dead: Black poetry in America – William Logan at New Criterion.


Illustration: Orestes Brownson (1803-1872).

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Poets and Poems: Angela Alaimo O'Donnell and "Dear Dante"

If I were asked to name the greatest poets in human history, I would likely name five: Homer, Virgil, Dante Alighieri, Geoffrey Chaucer, and John Milton. There they are: a Greek, a Roman, a Florentine, and two Englishmen. Yes, the list reflects my Eurocentric perspective, but there it is. 

Dante (1265-1321) serves as a pivot point between the classical world of Greece and Rome and the more recognizable modern world of Milton. Chaucer (ca. 1340s-1400) is chronologically close to Dante and is believed to have memorized at least parts of Dante’s The Divine Comedy by heart. While many of the people mentioned in The Divine Comedy are not well known today outside their own historical era, that doesn’t detract from the greatness of the poetical work.


In the summer of 2021, to mark the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death, poet Angela Alaimo O’Donnell decided to reread The Divine Comedy by one canto a day (100 cantos, she wrote, and about 100 days of summer, seemed an almost perfect match).

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

Some Tuesday Readings


“The Lake Isle of Innisfree” by William Butler Yeats – Sally Thomas at Poems Ancient and Modern.


The calm after the storm,” poem by Giacomo Leopardi – Beverley Bie Brahic at The New Criterion.


Pax – artwork by Sonja Benskin Mesher.


A Conversation with Maurice Manning – Ben Palpant at Rabbit Room Poetry.


No wait – poem by Franco Amati at Garbage Notes.

Monday, April 15, 2024

"I Cheerfully Refuse" by Leif Enger

It is sometime in the future, but perhaps not the distant future. Rainey, a bear of man in his 30s, lives with Lark, the woman he adores, in a small town on the Lake Superior coastline. Rainey plays guitar with a local group, while Lark runs a bookstore. They have, if not a comfortable life, a life they enjoy living together. Some people don’t enjoy life at all and have taken something called Willow, billed as a doorway into another life but sounding more like a suicide pill.  

Lark makes an occasional trip to nearby places like Duluth whenever she hears of an estate sale or other availability of books. It’s only used books that are now sold; no one’s publishing new ones. Electricity functions off and on. People try to muddle through as best they can; Willow is becoming a more attractive option. Manufacturing, like for security systems and pharmaceuticals, happens on big ships docked in lakes, rivers, and the ocean. People with no other way to make a living can become indentured servants or volunteer to be test subjects.


The coasts, and everything within them, are owned by 16 families, while the interior regions function as best they can. There seems to be some kind of theocracy in the South; parts of the Upper Midwest seems to function under some kind of general, if fraying, agreement. The U.S. dollar still functions; there just doesn’t seem to be much of it around, creating a thriving barter system. To the north, Canada has been affected, too, but seems somewhat better off.


Something has happened to the world in I Cheerfully Refuse, the new novel by Leif Enger, but what that something is isn’t exactly defined. Climate change, perhaps. Societal breakdown, for sure. Rainey and Lark don’t hoard, except for coffee beans. Replacing a mechanical part is often a major exercise in search and bartering.


Leif Enger

A young man named Kellan stumbles into the life of Rainey and Lark. They suspect he’s a squelette, the term for indentured servants who’ve run away. But he offers Lark an old, advanced reading copy of I Cheerfully Refuse, a book by Mollie Thorn, who lived in the middle of the 20th century. For Lark, it’s a treasure, personally more meaningful than any other book. On a sailing trip, years before, Lark and Rainey met Mollie Thorn, or perhaps her ghost, in the Slate Islands off the coast of Canada. 


Kellan suddenly disappears, but they don’t think much of it. Rainey is playing a gig in the local pub when he sees officers come inside, and they’re looking for him. He rushes out the back door, arriving home to find his house torn apart, And worse. He flees to the only refuge he knows – their sailboat Flower and the safety of the lake. Trying to understand what happened, he sets sail for the Slates, hoping to find Lark there, much like they found Millie Thorn.


It's an extraordinary story, simultaneously fictional and dystopian yet so close to contemporary reality that it’s eerie. And perhaps a bit frightening,


Enger is the author the three previous novels, including the widely acclaimed Peace Like a RiverSo Young, Brave and Handsome; and Virgil Wander. A native of Minnesota, all three of his novels have received awards and national recognitions. He lives with his family in Duluth. 


I Cheerfully Refuse is a novel about books and the love for them, about the things that bind us together and tear us apart, about the choices we make, and about the love we share and should always cherish. And it’s the story of a man who will brave adversity and danger and still hold on to love.  




Leif Enger’s Peace Like a River


Leif Enger’s So Brave, Young and Handsome


Some Monday Readings


“Spring and All,” poem by William Carlos Williams – Joseph Bottum at Poems Ancient and Modern.


W.S. Gilbert – Alexander Larman at The Critic Magazine. 


The Prophets: Eric Hoffer – Rob Henderson at The Free Press.


Why Does Being Left-Wing Make You Unhappy? – Ian Leslie at The Ruffian. 


What options does Israel have? – Douglas Murray at The Spectator.