Words I Wish I’d Written: Bad, Bad Beer

The travelers were served by the innkeeper, whose manner suggested that he hoped they died horribly just as soon as they left the premises. The beer tasted as if it was happy to connive at this state of affairs.— Terry Pratchett, Soul Music … [Read more...]

The Deadly Ambiguity of Aphorisms

In all my years of Christian living I've often heard the saying, "God will never give you more than you can handle." Recently I've seen a couple of posts that reject this saying with great force. On the other hand, there are those that insist that it's simply true.The problem here is that we're dealing with a saying, an aphorism, a maxim: a pithy statement of wisdom. The key word here is "pithy": an aphorism is meant to convey a large idea in a small amount of space. It's like an iceberg: … [Read more...]

Words I Wish I’d Written: Barton Cottage

As a house, Barton Cottage, though small, was comfortable and compact; but as a cottage it was defective, for the building was regular, the roof was tiled, the window shutters were not painted green, nor were the walls covered with honeysuckles.— Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility … [Read more...]

Words I Wish I’d Written: Talents

Music, landscape gardening, architecture—there was no start to his talents.— Terry Pratchett, Hogfather, speaking of Bloody Stupid Johnson. … [Read more...]

Words I Wish I’d Written: Bad Language

“Dang Brodell,” Emmett said. Actually that isn’t what he said. But about a year ago I got a four-page letter from a woman in Wichita, Kansas, saying that she had read all of my reports and that as each of her fourteen grandchildren reached his or her twelfth birthday she gave him or her copies of three of them just to get them started. If I go ahead and report what Emmett Lake actually said I would almost certainly lose that nice old lady, and what about the grandchildren who aren’t twelve yet? I … [Read more...]

Words I Wish I’d Written: The Bells

A little something for Halloween.IHear the sledges with the bells - Silver bells! What a world of merriment their melody foretells! How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle, In the icy air of night! While the stars that oversprinkle All the heavens, seem to twinkle With a crystalline delight; Keeping time, time, time, In a sort of Runic rhyme, To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells From the bells, bells, bells, bells, Bells, bells, bells - From the jingling and … [Read more...]

Word I Wish I’d Written: Pragmatism

The Patrician was a pragmatist. He never tried to fix things that worked. Things that didn’t work, however, got broken.— Terry Pratchett, Soul Music … [Read more...]

Bootstrapping the Interior Life: Hunger

I do not often resemble the following scriptures:Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. — Matt 5:6O God, thou art my God, I seek thee, my soul thirsts for thee; my flesh faints for thee, as in a dry and weary land where no water is. — Ps 63:1And this is a problem for the interior life, because the interior life is a life of learning to love God more than anything else, to put God before all else. And since we cannot really ach … [Read more...]

Trollope’s Theory of Fiction

Your average genre novel is like a high speed car chase ending in a massive crash, with death, destruction, and balls of flame, from which the main characters (usually) emerge mostly unscathed. Everything builds up to the crash, and it's the anticipation that keeps us turning pages. Anthony Trollope, by contrast, is like a pleasant Sunday afternoon drive through the countryside in an open carriage behind a pair of matched horses. There's conflict, sure; a herd of sheep blocks the road, two … [Read more...]