Saturday, March 17, 2018

Saturday Good Reads

“In 1917, the poets failed Russia worse than the politicians or the priests. There was no Dante to stitch together the past, science, the language, and the church. There were only speeches, rants, and young ideologues in a hurry to bring on Paradise.” So writes John Mark Reynolds at The Imaginative Conservative, in a short essay on Dante. He’s begging the question – do we have a Dante today?

And speaking of Russia and its revolution, BBC aired a special on the English tutor who taught the Romanov children and accompanied the family to their place of exile (and eventual death). When they arrived, the communist guards would not let him enter the compound with the family, and he had to make his way back to England. He was later part of the group that investigated the family’s murders.

Andrew Sullivan writes a sober account of the opiod crisis, while Lawrence Goldstone describes America’s first opiod epidemic – heroin. David Robson at the BBC wonders if the Queen’s speech is becoming a bit too common. An Ontario court upheld a family over a provincial government agency’s decision to take foster children away – because the family was Christian. The problem turned out to be an overzealous agency worker, and the agency apologized.

And a pianist does a boogie-woogie at St. Pancras Station in London.


In Praise of Albuquerque – Morgan Meis at Image Journal.

When Memories Betray Us – Lexie Elliott at CrimeReads.

Speechwriter: It’s you I Like – David Murray at Writing Boots.

Art and Photography

Stark – Tim Good at Photography by Tiwago.

The Iris of Faith – Tom Darin Liskey at Literary Life.


Dante: The Exile Who Leads Us Home – John Mark Reynolds at The Imaginative Conservative.

Sketchbooks and Caged Birds – Loren Paulsson at World Narratives.

Life and Culture

The Poison We Pick – Andrew Sullivan at New York Magazine.

America’s First Opiod Epidemic – Lawrence Goldstone at CrimeReads.

The Republic of Baseball (an essay from 1990) – Joseph Sobran via The Imaginative Conservative.


Listen. It’s a ministry – Dane Ortlund at The Gospel Coalition.

Why Dwight Moody was Billy Graham’s Key Predecessor – Thomas Kidd at The Gospel Coalition.

British Stuff

The Doors of Old London – Spitalfields Life.

Has the Queen become frightfully common? – David Robson at BBC (Hat Tip: J of India).

American Stuff

What I Learned from Reading Presidential Biography – Scott Slayton at One Degree to Another.

Henri’s Boogie – at St. Pancras Station

Painting: Woman Reading on a Settee, oil on canvas (ca. 1905-1910) by William Worchester Churchill.

Friday, March 16, 2018

We are contained

After Ephesians 1:7-12

We are contained within
him, the blood shed and
flowing around us; it is
the blood alone that is
the conduit of forgiveness,
that blood alone that is
the channel of redemption
that blood alone that is
the sources of the riches of grace.
It is all lavished, a feast,
a never-ending banquet
of grace, our place
at the table selected
for us.

Photograph by Anton Darius | Sollers via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

"Red Bones" by Ann Cleeves

Mima Wilson lives alone on the island of Whalsay in the Shetland Islands. Her husband died decades before in a fishing boat accident. Her son and daughter-in-law live nearby; a grandson lives in Edinburgh with his family and a second grandson, Sandy Wilson, is a police officer with the Shetland police in Lerwick, the islands’ largest city.

An archaeological dig is underway on Mima’s property, as students are excavating what appears to be a 14th-15th century structure. Mima loves having the students around, providing tea and a warm kitchen to talk.

Then Sandy finds his grandmother dead, shot with a shotgun outside the house. It looks like an accident – a neighbor, Ronald Clouston, was shooting rabbits at night. Ronald and Sandy have been good friends since they were children.

Detective Jimmy Perez leads the investigation and agrees that Mima’s death looks accidental. But he hangs around, asking questions, telling everyone he’s simply finishing procedural matters. He has no ostensible reason, but something is niggling. A few days later, Perez is called by one of the students at the dig, telling him she needs to talk with him. When he arrives for their meeting, she’s not there. Her body is found at the dig, and it looks like an apparent suicide.

Red Bones by Ann Cleeves is the third in the Detective Jimmy Perez / Shetland series, first published in 2009. Cleeves unwinds the story slowly, swirling in family jealousy, Shetland history, academics behaving badly, and Perez’s own romance to create a captivating story.

Ann Cleeves
Cleeves has published seven mysteries in the Jimmy Perez / Shetland series, including Raven Black (2008), White Nights (2010), Blue Lightning (2011), Dead Water (2014), Thin Air (2015), and Cold Air (2017). She’s also published eight mystery novels in the Vera Stanhope series (also a television series), six Inspector Stephen Ramsay mysteries, and several others works and short stories. The Jimmy Perez novels are the basis for the BBC television series “Shetland.” Cleeves lives in northeastern England.

Red Bones is done extraordinarily well. The readers and the characters aren’t entirely sure this is truly a murder mystery until about three fourths of the way through the novel. But it doesn’t matter; the book is crafted so well that we simply get wrapped in the story.


Top photograph: An archaeological site in the Shetland Islands, courtesy