Sunday, September 24, 2017

To plunge into the second part

After Isaiah 56:1, 2

To plunge into the second part
is a mystery, a bewilderment,
this justice bit, this doing
right, aimed at whim, aimed
by whom, aimed when
although the why is less
unknown, because of what
is at hand, suggesting or offering
a mercy and a grace, a blessing
for doing this consistently and
daily, a moment by moment
commitment to act and act
of commitment, and how is
justice bound up in rest
or the Sabbath, as if we
need rest from a hard work.
It’s a mystery, this drenching
of the world with the kingdom.

Photograph by David Marcu via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Saturday Good Reads

The arguments about America’s founders aren’t really about the people who founded the United States, but about contemporary American politics (and power). And we haven’t seen the end of it, not by a long shot. So, it’s rather refreshing to find an article on why Benjamin Franklin, of all people, called for prayer at the Constitutional Convention. Franklin biographer Thomas Kidd has the story.

Scott Slayton has been reading the novels and stories of Wendell Berry, and finding some interesting things. 

Trevin Wax at The Gospel Coalition asks if we should pull the plug on cable news. Emina Melonic looks at the humanities, and while she writes about their uselessness, she’s addressing another question. Five architects tell the Smithsonian Magazine was is the one building they wish had been preserved. 

I’ve included two articles from Spitalfields Life, a blog written from London, and I could have included more. Its owner, known as The Gentle Author on Twitter, writes consistently with style, knowledge, and understanding. It is an effort of love.

And British singer Joe Cocker sings a love song to French actress Catherine Deneuve.

Writing and Literature

Bad Apple Pie – Ann Wess at Appalachian Ink.


Free to Love – Erik Raymond at The Gospel Coalition.

Life and Culture

The Uselessness of the Humanities – Emina Melonic at The Imaginative Conservative.

Should We Pull the Plug on Cable News? – Trevin Wax at The Gospel Coalition.

Why Our Civil Discourse is Broken – Annie Holmquist at The Imaginative Conservative.

I moved from a blue state to a red state and it changed my life - Leah Singer at USA Today.


Learning the Math – Maureen Doallas at Writing Without Paper.

Bonding – Lise at All the Words

British Stuff

American Stuff

Art and Photography

Dew – Tim Good.

Seasons – Susan Etole.

Living with Sheep – Jack Baumgartner at The School of the Transfer of Energy.

Joe Cocker: Noubliez Jamais

Painting: The Reader, oil on canvas by Federico Zandomeneghi (1841).

Friday, September 22, 2017

I watch the rain

After Isaiah 55

I watch the rain
steady drops without pattern
a simple profusion of atomized water
refracted by light as it falls
from white vapors, billows

the drops fall on hill
and mountain, field and
valley, so profuse that
some run off, ricocheting
into streams and rivers
flowing like words
words from the heavens
atomized into droplets of light
cast upon the mountains
and hills, freshening the fields
and valleys, a sustenance
of creation.

Photograph by Eutah Mizushima via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

“The China Governess” by Margery Allingham

Timothy Kinnit has just about everything going for him. Adopted as a baby into a wealthy family, he’s just finished Oxford. He’s in love with Julia Laurell, a beautiful young woman whose father is a major manufacturer (and wealthy). Tim and Julia are right on the verge of eloping.

And then the world turns upside down. Tim had always believed he was the illegitimate son of a Kinnit, and that turns out not to be the case. He goes looking for where he came from, and gets beaten up by a private detective. There appears to be a connection to the trashing of an apartment in the area of east London where Tim was likely born. And then the detective agency finds itself the victim of arson, and Tim is the prime suspect.

Enter Superintendent Charles Luke of Scotland Yard. And enter amateur detective Albert Campion.

In The China Governess, Golden Age mystery writer Margery Allingham (1904-1966) mixes an eccentric family, secrets buried in the past, disguised identities, a murder or two, and romance (it’s not an Allingham mystery novel without romance). The result is a fast-paced, entertaining mystery.

Margery Allingham
First published in 1963, three years before Allingham’s death, and set in the early 1960s, The China Governess isn’t the kind of English country manor murder mystery so popular during the Golden Age (1920s-1940s). There’s only one short scene that actually occurs in the country, and that happens early in the book. Most of the action is centered in London, which is still rebuilding after the blitz of 1940-1941. There are still relics of earlier houses, however, and the Kinnits’ Well House is one of them.

It’s an Albert Campion mystery, and Campion is the sleuth that helped make Allingham famous in her own lifetime. But the character who steals the show is Mrs. Broome, something of the housekeeper for the Kinnits’ country home who comes to London to help out at Well House. Almost Dickensian in character, Mrs. Broome is alternately funny, insightful, forgetful, and always highly protective. She is one of Allingham’s great characters.

The China Governess is a great treat, demonstrating that Allingham lost none of her detective writing abilities in her later books.


The Beckoning Lady by Margery Allingham

Top photograph: a London cul-de-sac much like the setting of Well House in The China Governess.