The Twenty-seven Club

Rock chanteuse Amy Winehouse died at the age of 27.   That’s the same age that Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Jim Morrison died.  Also Rolling Stones founder Brian Jones.  Also Pigpen McKernan of the Grateful dead.  Also blues legend Robert Johnson.  And less famous rockers Chris Bell (of Big Star) and D. Boon (of the Minutemen). Perhaps 27 is the age that the human body pays the toll for the untrammeled rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, especially when… Read more

America’s last space ship?

Last Thursday, July 21, the Space Shuttle Atlantis landed, ending the United States’ Space Shuttle program. And it may mark the end of manned flight, at least as far as the United States is concerned. Russia will still be able to send people into orbit, and American astronauts can hitch a ride with them to get to the International Space Station, another program whose days are numbered.  But there are no plans to update manned spacecraft  or start any more… Read more

A Civil War soldier’s letter to his wife

I am going to make you cry.  To mark the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Bull Run, a.k.a. The Battle of Manassas, the Washington Post wrote a story about and reprinted the letter written by Maj. Sullivan Ballou to his wife a week before he was killed in that battle.  It shows a man highly devoted to his different and sometimes conflicting vocations as husband, father, soldier, citizen, and Christian: July the 14th, 1861 Washington D.C. My very dear… Read more

Horror in Norway

A 32-year-old Norwegian described as “a Christian fundamentalist with right-wing connections” bombed a government building in Oslo, killing seven, and then went to a Labor Party youth camp and shot to death 84 young people! See Norway Shooting and Bomb Attack Leaves at Least 91 Dead – NYTimes.com. We’ll learn what they mean by “right-wing fundamentalist.”  At any rate, get ready for yet more discrediting of conservative Christians and conservative politics.  In the meantime, we must feel for Norway, which is going… Read more

The Antichrist, revisited

You have GOT to read Mollie Hemingway’s column in the Wall Street Journal, which should definitively put to rest the media’s shocked discovery that Lutherans believe that the papacy is the antichrist.   The piece has the best lede (journalese for opening paragraph) that I’ve read in a long time: American political reporters aren’t known for their vocal support of Roman Catholic teachings. But when they discovered recently that Minnesota Congresswoman and Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann was once a Lutheran,… Read more

Any Kindle suggestions?

I’m becoming a regular high-tech kind of guy, though at least I’m a late adopter.  I now have a Kindle.  (My wife wanted one for Mother’s Day, so I obliged, whereupon since I was always borrowing hers, she bought me one for Father’s Day.  Our devices are hooked up to the same account so that when either of us buy a book it is “archived” on the other’s device, allowing us to download each other’s books for free.)  I carry… Read more

A trailer for Lars Walker’s “West Oversea”

I didn’t realize books could be like movies and have trailers, but here is a trailer for a book I really enjoyed, West Oversea: A Norse Saga of Mystery, Adventure and Faith, by Lars Walker, a longtime commenter on this blog. (If the video doesn’t come up, click “comments” and it will. Also, you can order the book by clicking the link.) Read more

Islam & concubines

A Muslim woman is calling for the legalization of sex slavery–which she describes as the temporary marriage of concubines–on the grounds that Islam permits it and that it is a cure for adultery.  From the International Business Times: Sex slaves are OK in Islam, according to a former candidate for the Kuwaiti parliament, who is advocating for the legalization of sex slavery. . . . In a video posted on YouTube earlier this year [see below], Salwa Al-Mutairi proclaimed that… Read more

Families, faith, and the military vocation

David French is an Iraq war veteran and Nancy French is his wife. Together they have written Home and Away: A Story of Family in a Time of War. From an interview with the authors: ‘Men were coming home on leave to find their wives gone from their houses,” David French writes about the strain of deployment on marriage. “Other men were getting the modern equivalent of the ‘Dear John’ letter via Facebook message or e-mail. Some guys discovered wives… Read more

The 19th Century Depression

Canadian historian Francois Furstenberg reminds us of the economic depression that America had to struggle through in the 19th century: Much like our time, the Gilded Age was an era of economic booms and busts. None was greater than the financial crisis that began in September 1873 with the collapse of Jay Cooke & Co., the nation’s premier investment bank. Like many other firms, Cooke & Co. overextended itself by offering risky loans based on overvalued real estate. Cooke’s collapse… Read more

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