Sunday, October 27, 2013


Introducing Ezra Jude Finnegan.  He is 16 weeks gestation right now, and running track in his Mommy's tummy.  Emma will have a little brother, and he is due to arrive around April 11.  Join us in rejoicing with Tim and Nikki, and in praying for this little boy to grow and stay right where he should be as long as possible.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Five for Friday

Today I offer five fun short stories I will soon be reading with my little composition class.  If you need something enjoyable to read in a doctor's office waiting room, or before you fall asleep, try these titles.  For those that exist online I've tried to give you links.

1.  The Dog that Bit People by James Thurber

2. A Day's Wait by Ernest Hemmingway

3. Rip van Winkle by Washington Irving

4.  Chapter 3 of The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.  Strictly speaking this is not a short story, of course.  But it is a tight, beautiful piece of writing that can stand on its own, and is a rich example of how a great writer embeds a theme in a narrative.

5. "Red" by Elsa Johnson Finnegan.  This is a wonderful story, but you have to know the author to get a copy.  :-)

What short stories are your favorites, Gentle Reader?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thursday thought: Peace

Peace can be hard to find at times.  We can become so distracted over even legitimate concerns that peace can get lost in the shuffle. I am thinking Wendell Berry's way to find peace sounds lovely.  May you find such peace today, Gentle Reader.

The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Leaving your finger prints

At a wedding last weekend, the father of the lovely bride and I were sharing memories of that dear girl.  The father gave me a smile, put his hand on my shoulder, and said, "Your fingerprints are all over my children!"

What a lovely thing to say! My fingerprints--or the effects of my influence and teaching-- had helped to sculpt his children, and he was grateful.

What could be better than helping to form the heart and mind of young people?  Whether it is your own children or someone else's, leave your fingerprints.  Leave them everywhere, Gentle Reader.  You will never regret it.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Thursday thought: impenetrable things

This morning, in an attempt to remove my mind from the political nonsense, I am pondering the impenetrable things that count.  And what better way to do than with a poem by Dana Gioia?

Do Not Expect by Dana Gioia

Do not expect that if your book falls open
to a certain page, that any phrase
you read will make a difference today,
or that the voices you might overhear
when the wind moves through the yellow-green
and golden tent of autumn, speak to you.

Things ripen or go dry. Light plays on the
dark surface of the lake. Each afternoon
your shadow walks beside you on the wall,
and the days stay long and heavy underneath
the distant rumor of the harvest. One
more summer gone,
and one way or another you survive,
dull or regretful, never learning that
nothing is hidden in the obvious
changes of the world, that even the dim
reflection of the sun on tall, dry grass
is more than you will ever understand.

And only briefly then
you touch, you see, you press against
the surface of impenetrable things.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Tuesday, October 08, 2013


I am preparing today to teach my little composition class about the Shakespearean sonnet tomorrow, and I can't wait.  There are, of course, some sonnets that 13 and 14 year olds can't entirely appreciate.  Their life experience is simply not deep or broad enough yet.  But I hope to build the beginnings of appreciation in them.  I am enjoying contemplating Will's Sonnet 73.  But I am not sure I really understood it until recently:

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire,
Consum'd with that which it was nourish'd by.
This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
I hope you will enjoy contemplating it as well, Gentle Reader.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Five for Friday

On this first (and hopefully, but unlikely, last) Friday of government shutdown, I offer five things our government ought to do, but does not. And if we hit another Friday, I will try to offer five things our government ought not to do, but does...

1. Pass a yearly budget.  But, of course, that would mean making actual decisions and putting it down in writing for posterity.  Better to pass a series of continuing resolutions, avoid those tough decisions, and enjoy the limelight of the media-feeding-frenzy and name-calling and dysfunction that a shut down can bring.

2. Spend within its means. People of good intent can disagree on with how our money ought to be spent. But does anyone outside of ivory-towered Keynsians or high-ranking government officials really think going into ever-increasing debt as a nation is a good idea?  It does not take a rocket scientist to know that it can be fun to run up debt in the short-term, but devastating in the long-term. 

3. Pass laws that apply to all.  It only seems reasonable that if you are going to pass a law for your constituents, it ought to apply to you as well, and indeed, apply to all citizens equally.  A law ought to apply to business tycoons and labor unions, rich and poor, without favoritism.  That is the only way the rule of law can actually be the rule of law.

4. Refuse to use lawful government institutions for political purposes.  No one who is lawfully paying taxes should fear the IRS.  No one should fear that the oval office will bug their campaign headquarters.  Such abuse of power should always be heinous to us and shock us.  And it should be unconsciounable to our elected officials.

5. Place the welfare of the poeple as their highest priority. I can see that our form of govenrment will of necessity require difference of opinion, and even, at times, a break down that would cause disruption in services while the differing views in this representative government work out their differences.  But when that happens, real leaders look for how to bear the brunt of the suffering themselves and spare those they serve.  They don't look for ways to shut down things that will get the most bang for the buck, despite the suffering it causes (ending NIH clinical trials for children with cancer comes to mind.)

Quite honestly, Gentle Reader, I am non-partisan in my current disgust with out "leaders", and will work to keep all of my elected officials from returning to congress. But even more than that, I am disgusted by us for putting up with them and not requiring more.