Sunday, January 16, 2022

Take good notes

After John 7:14-24

He speaks; they hear,

they do not listen.

In simple words, he

outlines his authority,

explaining the difference

between Father and self.

He focuses on their intent

to eliminate any perceived

threats. He points out

their hypocrisy, duplicity,

their enslavement 

to appearances, favoring

perception over reality, 

perception over the true.

One might think they would

take good notes; they do,

but the wrong kind:

the notes of condemnation

and destruction.


Photograph by Antoine Julien via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Saturday Good Reads - Jan. 15, 2022

I’ve often asked myself the question that many grandparents likely ask themselves: what kind of world are we leaving to our grandchildren? It’s a question that, with almost every passing day, seems to take on more urgency. And it’s not the coronavirus I’m worried about, but more whether or not my country is going to survive even my lifetime. Jon Mark Olesky at Tabletalk Magazine addresses that question and suggests that we are to be preparing our children for Babylon. 

Terry Mattingly at Get Religion, which looks at how the news media cover religion, posted a few days about two articles. One concerned the decline of religion and the rise of “spirituality” in the United States, and what the implications might be for politics and the culture. The other article is about a new book, published by New York University Press (not what one would call a religious or conservative publisher). The book reports on a study of conservative/red and progressive/blue Christians. And the authors were in for some surprises, like it wasn’t the conservatives who tended to jettison Christian doctrine to support their preferred political candidate and party ( a totally counterintuitive finding if you read and watch only the news media). 


In 1974, ABC began airing an unusual television program, “Kolchak: The Night Stalker.” Actor Darrin McGavin played Carl Kolchak, a newspaper reporter who found himself investigating 

all sorts of odd phenomena and strange creatures (like vampires). The series ran for two season, 1974 and 1975, with a total of 20 episodes. But it was sufficient, writes Keith Roysdon at CrimeReads, to launch what came to be known as “Vampire Noir.” He may have a point; two years later, Anne Rice published Interview with a Vampire. For the record, I was a fan of Kolchak, even if the show was a kind of cheesier “Twilight Zone.”


More Good Reads




Just Another Day – Doug Spurling at Spurling Silver.


The Three Worlds of Evangelicalism – Aaron Renn at First Things Magazine.


The Success of Others – Seth Lewis.


How Much Can the Most Famous Dead Sea Scroll Prove? – Anthony Ferguson at Text and Canon Institute.


Life and Culture


What the 1619 Project Got Wrong – James Oakes at Catalyst.


How to Survive a “Reality Crisis” – Mike Duran.


Netspeak: How we can — and must — win the war on language – Andrew Hunt at The Critic Magazine.


The Crisis of Moral Legitimacy – Ilana Redstone at Tablet Magazine.




The Afterlife – John Blase.


On Poetry, Programming, Chaos, and Cosmos – Micah Hawkinson at The Rabbit Room.


Epiphany-tide – Kathleen Everett at The Course of Our Seasons.


Yearning for change – Joy Lenton at Poetry Joy.


British Stuff


When London really was built back better – James Stevens Curl at The Critic Magazine.


The forgotten medieval habit of ‘two sleeps’ – Zaria Gorvett at BBC.


American Stuff


‘The day long remembered:’ Remembering Bull Run – Anthony Trusso at Emerging Civil War Blog.


Writing and Literature


Please, Mr. Postman: Revisiting the Broken Hearts of James M. Cain’s Masterpiece – Matthew Eng at Literary Hub. 


The Real Places that Gave Rise to Southern Fictions – Casey Cep at The New Yorker.


Fields of Gold – Celtic Woman

Painting: Old Man Reading, oil on canvas by Johannes Weiland (1856-1909)

Friday, January 14, 2022

They marvel

After John 7:14-24

They marvel, with grumble

implied, at the man who

teaches without learning,

without credential, who

hasn’t studied with experts

but only with those who

fashion wood for a living.

They marvel, with sarcasm

implied, suggesting he’s

a trickster, a charlatan,

a heretic of sleight of hand.

His answer pierces and

punctures, claiming

authority they themselves

desire but dare not claim,

holding up a mirror

to their accusations, seeing 

their real intent poisoning

their hearts, their desire

for worldly acclaim,

their fears for worldly status,

their anger at anything,


threatening their station,

threatening their self-perception.


Photograph by Saravaswa Tandon via Unsplash. Used with Permission

Thursday, January 13, 2022

"Untrue Blue" by Emma Jameson

The Hetheridges – husband and wife – are back. 

Detective Inspector Kate Hetheridge is on doctor-ordered bedrest during her final four weeks of pregnancy. Her husband Tony, also known as Lord Anthony Hetheridge, continues to work as a private investigator and police consultant. Far too competent for his own good, Tony “retired” from Scotland Yard, retired as in forced out. Kate’s colleague – and Tony’s former subordinate – Paul Bhar is the father of a brand-new baby girl, so he’s not been visiting too much and trying to find time to get some sleep.


The Hetheridges and Paul are drawn into another murder investigation – the strangulation of a young member of Kate’s and Paul’s police team, killed in her flat. Kate can only participate via computer and phone, but Paul and other police officers are fully investigating. The victim’s boyfriend, also a police officer, is implicated. But as they begin to look at the cases she was investigating, they discover threads to the solution that might reach into very high levels of Scotland Yard.


Emma Jameson

Untrue Blue
 is the seventh mystery novel in the Lord and Lady Hetheridge series, and it’s every bit as good as its predecessors. The marriage of Mayfair (Tony) and London’s East End (Kate) is a fun sub-theme of the story. Tony, in his early 60s, had been a long-time bachelor, with one -out-of-wedlock child, and he can trace his lineage back several hundred years. Kate brings with her an older disabled brother, a nephew for whom she’s the guardian, a sister who’s usually in addiction recovery somewhere, and a mother no one has seen for some time. It’s a mix Jameson uses to keep the home front constantly bubbling. 


And now the baby is due. It’s a great mystery and a fun story.


In addition to the Hetheridge series, Jameson has a second series of novels featuring the amateur detective Dr. Benjamin Bones. The series begins in Cornwall during World War II, and it has a companion series called “The Magic of Cornwall.” Jameson is currently working on another Dr. Bones mystery, and she says there will be more Lord and Lady Hetheridge novels.



Ice Blue by Emma Jameson


Blue Murder by Emma Jameson.


Something Blue by Emma Jameson.


Black & Blue by Emma Jameson.


Blue Blooded by Emma Jameson.


Blue Christmas by Emma Jameson.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

"Home to Italy" by Peter Pezzelli

Peppi has just buried Anna, his beloved wife of almost 45 years. They met and lived in Rhode Island, but Peppi was born in the Italian village of Villa San Giuseppe. He has relatives in Rhode Island, but he and Anna had been childless.  

He came to America as a young man, bringing with him his love of bicycles and bike racing. He hasn’t been home to Italy since he left. But the deed to the house of his parents and its attached mill is still in his name, and he wakes up one morning firmly resolved. He’s going back to Italy, back to where he was born, and he’ll live in the house of his parents. All he brings with him are a couple of suitcases and his bicycle.


Not long after, Peppi’s childhood friend Luca, a fellow bicycling enthusiast, is preparing to leave the village square with his cycling friends for a Sunday morning ride. Luca sees another cyclist coming, and he recognizes who it is. With a bare acknowledgement and no fanfare, Luca and Peppi pick up their friendship right where it left off 45 years before.


Peter Pezzelli

Things in the village have changed, of course. An earthquake destroyed Peppi’s family home and the mill. Luca now owns his family’s candy business, and his fiery daughter Lucrezia runs its daily operations. She’s been something of a terror ever since the accidental death f her husband a decade before. She still mourns him, just as Peppi carries the loss of his wife with him. Gradually, a May-December romance begins to bloom. 


Home to Italy by Peter Pezzelli is the delightful, heartwarming story of Peppi, Lucrezia, and their families and friends, and how sadness and mutual loss gradually gives way to love.


Pezzelli is the author of six novels, all set in Rhode Island or Italy. In his 20s, his girlfriend (and later wife) gave him an electric typewriter, which he used extensively while recovering from a rugby injury. He used the recovery time to try his hand at short stories. Later, he took creative courses at nearby Brown University and the Wesleyan Writers Conference. He eventually set short stories aside to write novels. He lives with his family in Rhode Island.


Home to Italy is a charming, funny, and highly entertaining story. Peppi discovers that it is possible to go home again, even as many things have changed. But the things that matter – the people – have not. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Tuesday, Jan. 11: It’s Poetry at Work Day 2022!

It’s Poetry at Work Day, and I find myself thinking about names in the workplace.   

I’ve been long fascinated with the names of characters in the works of Charles Dickens. Many of them are descriptive of the characters they represent. Some he made up out of whole cloth. And some were borrowed, or stolen, from the names of real people. “Pickwick,” for example, came from the name of the owner of a coach firm in Bath. “Oliver Twiste” was the name of a real person. Dickens borrowed, and sometimes barely disguised, the names of friends, acquaintances, neighbors, and people mentioned in newspapers. 


The names of these characters often contain their own poetry. While reading a paper from 1917 on the origins of the names of Dickens’s characters, I began to think about the names, and the poetry of names, of people I’ve known over more than four decades of work life. My own last name likely started life a millennium or two ago to differentiate a father from a son, or an older and younger brother. 

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

Monday, January 10, 2022

"The Irish Cottage" by Juliet Gauvin

Elizabeth Lara has taken an extended leave from work, a San Francisco law office where she’s a high-powered, high-adrenaline, and highly successful attorney specializing in divorce. In her mid-30s, she’s not allowed herself time to grieve the loss of her beloved great-aunt, the woman who raised her. Her life is catching up to her, and she’s run to Ireland, where she’s rented a cottage. Arriving there, she’s greeted by a naked man coming out of the shower. 

The naked man is Connor Bannon, who owns the property and the surrounding estate and didn’t know his real estate agent had rented the cottage. He’s borrowing the shower while the plumbing in his own house is repaired. Connor has about as much emotional baggage as Elizabeth, as he’s still mourning the loss of his mother and all of the circumstances surrounding his father.


Elizabeth and Connor discover a mutual attraction, one that grows in intensity over a fairly short period of time. Elizabeth is reading a series of letters her great-aunt left her, and now she’s beginning to take chances she never dreamed of taking.


Juliet Gauvin

The Irish Cottage: Finding Elizabeth
 is the first in the Irish Heart series by Juliet Gauvin. It’s a “finding one’s self / romance” kind of story that gets a bit R-rated and steamy in a few places. Well, perhaps a bit past R-rated.


Gauvin has published six books in the Irish Heart series, three in the “original romance trilogy” and three in the “continuing romance” trilogy. All six have the same two main characters, so I suspect it will be a while before Elizabeth and Connor get married. 


The Irish Cottage is a well-written, quick-reading romance steeped in the Irish countryside, customs, and traditions. It features mid-30s, two rather strong-willed main characters, who are able to imbibe large amounts of alcohol while they pursue each other.