A Pilgrimage to Holy Island and Back

Holy Island, also known as Lindsfarne, is a special place. It is one of the places where Christianity first blossomed in England, and became a center of Christian life for a long time. But Holy Island did not provide the protection that castles along the northeast coast of England did (see the last of the pictures above of Bamburgh Castle, just visible in the distance from Lindsfarne). And so when the Viking invasion came in 793, the monks at the priory (see the ruins of the Norman priory in … [Read more...]

The Wall– Hadrian’s not Pink Floyd’s

It was Claudius' initiative that put Romans in Britain, and so from about A.D. 45- 410 there was a Roman presence in Britain. Big problem---- those warring tribes to the North, later known as the Scots. So, a wall had to be built. And what a wall it was from Wallsend on the Tyne to Bowness on Solwyn on the west coast, it stretched 73 miles, punctuated with forts or gates (called milecastles) or towers every mile or so. Hadrian himself had visited Britain in 122 A.D. and set this whole process … [Read more...]

The Angel of the North

When's the last time you saw a 697 foot tall angel? And talk about a man of steel, this dude is. Standing on a hill in Gateshead, hovering over the Tyne and facing Newcastle is what appear to be the largest angel sculpture in the whole world.... and increasingly one of the most beloved and visited angels ever. Here are some pictures I took on the way back from a visit to the Roman Wall at Housesteads. See what you think... … [Read more...]

Saying for the Day

'Though my soul may set in darkness, It will rise in perfect light, I have loved the son too dearly, To be fearful of the night'---My variation of a poem by Sarah Williams 'The Old Astronomer to his Pupil' (the original having the word 'stars' instead of 'son'/sun). … [Read more...]

Man of Spandex—– Zach Snyder’s Superman

Zach Snyder, the man who brought graphic novels like Watchman, and also works like 300 to the silver screen, has now turned the philosophy 'nothing succeeds like excess' to the Superman franchise. Let's talk positives first. This move has some excellent actors in it---- Russell Crowe plays Jor-el, Kevin Costner and Diane Lane play Pa and Ma Kent, Amy Adams plays Loise Lane, Lawrence Fishburne plays Perry White (o.k... a little humor in that choice), Toby from West Wing shows up as a Einstein … [Read more...]

The Rankin Files— Dead Souls. Is Therapy All There Is?

A deep seated need and desire and lust that leads one to impulsive and compulsive behavior. We're talking OCD of a demonic sort. The sort pursued by 'dead souls' the subject of Ian Rankin's eleven novel in the John Rebus series. In this particular case, we are talking about paedophilia and also psychopathic serial murdering. Here is a brief summary from Publisher's Weekly of the plot of this Rankin novel."Edinburgh's Det. Insp. John Rebus is beset by troubles from the past and the … [Read more...]

Doing my Father’s Business

Being a father can be hard work. But it is also incomparable joy. See the picture above. Yes that's me and our kids at Myrtle Beach in 1986, having a blast. I sure do miss those days. When your children are all grown up it is of course different. Christy now, pictured above, has already gone to be with the Lord. David has had a rough spring with a bulging disk in his back. And our Russian gal Yuliya has been working her brains out trying to get going on her dissertation at the University … [Read more...]

The Rankin Files– The Hanging Garden

It is a very difficult thing to follow up an award winning novel with a worthy sequel. Very difficult. Usually, the writer psychologically thinks that now he can rest on his laurels a bit, and he does not put as much effort into the sequel as he might have done were he still striving to write a novel that would really put him on the map. If we were worrying about Ian Rankin falling into some kind of sophomore slump, we can forget about it--- entirely. This novel crackles with energy, pace, … [Read more...]

The Sauciness of Worcestershire

No this is not a little Swiss or German village with a clock tower. This is Ledbury where my friends the Keyes are going to retire. I'm not sure that you can get to Ledbury on a canal barge from Worcester, but there are hundreds of such barges on the canals in the area. Below we have a picture of my friend Tim Keyes and his dog Tom by the barge parking lot in Worcester.Worcester has a certain holiday or saucy feel to it, when you see all these people living on barges, at least in the … [Read more...]