Tuesday, May 28, 2024


The Gulag Archipelago: An Experiment in Literary Investigation first appeared in Western languages in 1974, fifty years ago, in three volumes. I bought it and read it as soon as I could. I already had some sense of the inhumanity of  Communism but Solzhenitsyn certainly solidified my anti-Communism. Some regimes need to be destroyed. But Solzhenitsyn, based on his own experience in the GULAG, had also gained spiritual insight. Gary Saul Morson on the most important chapter in the book:
“Here is how it was with many others, not just with me,” Solzhenitsyn explains. One’s first prison experience resembles the sky over Pompeii or the heaven of the Last Judgment “because it was not just anyone who had been arrested, but I—the center of this world.” One thought occurs to everyone: one must vow to survive at any price. And one soon realizes what that means: “at the price of someone else.”
And whoever takes that vow...allows his own misfortune to overshadow both the entire common misfortune and the whole world.

This is the great fork of camp life. From this point the roads go to the right and to the left. One of them will rise and the other will descend. If you go to the right—you lose your life, and if you go the left—you lose your conscience.
Solzhenitsyn concedes that at that fork, “at that greater divider of souls,” most choose survival. ....

Although most prisoners chose survival, many chose conscience, and Solzhenitsyn describes a few he met. They all knew that, according to official Bolshevik atheism, there are no transcendent values. Lenin and his followers scorned such ideas as “human dignity” and the “sanctity of human life.” No, Soviet citizens were taught, only the material result counted, and that meant the only moral standard was the interest of the Communist Party. People who accepted this way of thinking readily concluded that, on the individual level, too, all that matters is what promotes one’s own welfare.

Choosing conscience meant rejecting such thinking. You gradually recognize that “It is not the result that counts...but the spirit! Not what—but how.” You begin to change. Instead of being sharply intolerant, you begin to forgive. “You have come to realize your own weakness—and you can therefore understand the weakness of others.” In short, “you are ascending.”

“Your soul, which formerly was dry, now ripens from suffering.” For the first time, you examine your life sincerely and “remember everything you did that was bad and shameful.” Solzhenitsyn recalls how, when he was in the hospital, the deeply wise Dr. Kornfeld, a convert to Christianity, explained to him that although you are innocent of the crime for which you were imprisoned, “if you go over your life with a fine-tooth comb and ponder it deeply,” you will be able to find real transgressions worthy of such punishment. As it happened, Dr. Kornfeld was murdered that very night. “And so it happened that Kornfeld’s prophetic words were his last words on earth. And directed to me, they lay upon me as an inheritance.” .... (more)

Monday, May 27, 2024

It wasn't inevitable

I've always been interested in World War II, largely because it was so fraught and victory was so important. So I read all I could about it and found particularly interesting the events leading to its outbreak and the lessons that should have been learned. When I taught 9th grade US History, I spent an entire unit on the rise of the dictators in Germany, Italy, Japan, and the USSR leading to World War II and the subsequent much longer Cold War. So I found this recent book of interest and have ordered it. Takeover is about how Hitler gained power, and was reviewed in Commentary:
Adolf Hitler’s capture and destruction of the fragile Weimar Republic is a cautionary tale without rival. To tell the story in his new book, Takeover, the historian Timothy Ryback has narrowed the action to the six months leading up to Hitler’s elevation to national leadership. He relies heavily on newspaper reports, diaries, and memoirs to recount in vivid detail how the infighting between cocky, short-sighted members of the Prussian establishment eventually opened the door to the Nazi leader. But also ever-present in Ryback’s account is the role of chance—unplanned encounters, missed opportunities, hidden resentments. Conditions were ripe for this political catastrophe, but it wasn’t inevitable. ....

The specter of Weimar haunts us still. We can marvel from a distance at how small decisions—made in the moment, in response to immediate circumstances—cascaded into disaster. We can point out that peril awaits a leadership class willing to align itself with political extremists, seeking to counter forces which it perceives to be more unsavory. The lessons to be gleaned from this are eternal. (more, a pretty good summary of the events.)

With grateful hearts

A prayer for Memorial Day:
O King and Judge of the nations: We remember before you with grateful hearts the men and women of our armed forces, who in the day of decision ventured much for the liberties we now enjoy; grant that we may not rest until all the people of this land share the benefits of true freedom and gladly accept its disciplines; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, now and forever. Amen. 

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Thank you

The soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines we honor on Memorial Day deserve glory, those embracing their folded flags deserve our gratitude, and those living physically or psychologically mutilated post-service lives deserve the best care we can provide.

From Normandy to Okinawa, from the oceans’ deeps to the mountain passes of Korea, we take a day to say “Thank you” to our sons who remain there still. Few are the men who wish to die for their country, but many accepted that death might call for them in service of country and continued under 80-pound packs in the jungles of Vietnam or along the ship’s prop shaft in the diesel pits. There they were, at their station, when the reaper arrived in the form of shell, shrapnel, or disease. ....

Memorial Day commemorates those who surrendered the right to the preservation of self, thereby guaranteeing the protection of the whole. Some died, others are living. The day is an accounting — who now remains to remember? .... (more)
Luther Ray Abel, "‘No, Thank God, Americans Don’t Say That’," National Review, May 28, 2023.

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Uncontrollable laughter

When the Inklings gathered the usual routine was for one of them to read from something on which he was working. Apparently, when none were prepared to present, Irene Iddesleigh would be brought out. The game was to see how much could be read without someone bursting out in laughter.

Irene Iddesleigh is a free download or can be read online at ManyBooks. The challenge posed to the Inklings would be difficult, I think, for any group. It definitely is for me. I suffer the impulse almost immediately.

If conversation lags open Irene Iddesleigh, read it aloud, and see whether you can retain your composure better than Lewis or Tolkien.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Grace sufficient

My denomination has an annual conference to conduct business, but also for worship and study, and the latter is planned by the conference president. This year the president is Johnmark Camenga (a first cousin, once removed), the pastor of a Seventh Day Baptist church in West Virginia. He has a blog called "Unearth the Church." That is also his chosen theme for the conference sessions and also the title of his recent book. The newest post on his blog is "Yes, Christ Alone" which asks whether there needs to be a "means" of achieving grace.
...[M]eans of grace theology establishes an expectation for ordinances that is not Scriptural and ultimately sets people up for disappointment (at best) and harm (at worst). ....

The means of grace demand more of Christ than he’s already done while also demanding of him something that he never promised. The declaration of Jesus that it is finished (John 19:30) and his promises to always be with us (Matthew 28:20) are indications of sufficient work and a sufficient presence. We don’t need more and Jesus didn’t promise more on this side of eternity. That which “manifests” grace within the believer is the work of Jesus and the believer’s participation in it through their belief. That’s it. ....

When Christ alone is insufficient, you can never have confidence about your eternal destiny. When there are hoops to jump through, hurdles to clear, booths to enter, bread to eat, wine to drink, and waters to traverse, each of those things only takes you further from grace, not closer to it. ....

I don’t need more means, I need to more fully understand the meaning of the life death and resurrection of Jesus. I don’t need more grace, I need to more deeply appreciate how much his grace has already accomplished; to know and trust that it is finished, that he is with me, and that he is sufficient.

Christ alone and nothing more. (more)

Tuesday, May 21, 2024


I have collected a pretty good selection of hymnbooks from various Christian traditions, recent, and some from the past. One of the more curious is Towner's Male Choir (1894) described by its editor as "a most helpful accessory in the service of praise, more especially for Y.M.C.A., Y.P.S.C.E, and Evangelistic meetings." My copy is stamped inside the front cover "Alfred University School of Theology," which was the Seventh Day Baptist theological school. It was common around the turn of the last century for college-age male quartets to travel the country in the summer break months singing at SDB churches and at revival services. Towner was often what they sang from. Leafing through my copy this afternoon I found Towner's version of "I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say," a familiar hymn, but, of course, here arranged for a male quartet. The image can be enlarged.

D.B. Towner, Towner's Male Choir, Fleming H. Revell, 1894.

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Work and play

I'm not sure when I first read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) but it was early in my reading experience. I then went on to read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884). Some years ago my brother and I visited Hannibal, Missouri, where Mark Twain grew up, and saw what may have been the fence that inspired Tom's white-washing con. Remember this?
.... “Say—I’m going in a-swimming, I am. Don’t you wish you could? But of course you’d druther work—wouldn’t you? Course you would!”
Tom contemplated the boy a bit, and said:
“What do you call work?”
“Why, ain’t that work?”
Tom resumed his whitewashing, and answered carelessly:
“Well, maybe it is, and maybe it ain’t. All I know, is, it suits Tom Sawyer.”
“Oh come, now, you don’t mean to let on that you like it?”
The brush continued to move.
“Like it? Well, I don’t see why I oughtn’t to like it. Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?”
That put the thing in a new light. Ben stopped nibbling his apple. Tom swept his brush daintily back and forth—stepped back to note the effect—added a touch here and there—criticised the effect again—Ben watching every move and getting more and more interested, more and more absorbed. Presently he said:
“Say, Tom, let me whitewash a little.”
Tom considered, was about to consent; but he altered his mind:
“No—no—I reckon it wouldn’t hardly do, Ben. You see, Aunt Polly’s awful particular about this fence—right here on the street, you know—but if it was the back fence I wouldn’t mind and she wouldn’t. Yes, she’s awful particular about this fence; it’s got to be done very careful; I reckon there ain’t one boy in a thousand, maybe two thousand, that can do it the way it’s got to be done.”
“No—is that so? Oh come, now—lemme just try. Only just a little—I’d let you, if you was me, Tom.”
“Ben, I’d like to, honest injun; but Aunt Polly—well, Jim wanted to do it, but she wouldn’t let him; Sid wanted to do it, and she wouldn’t let Sid. Now don’t you see how I’m fixed? If you was to tackle this fence and anything was to happen to it—”
“Oh, shucks, I’ll be just as careful. Now lemme try. Say—I’ll give you the core of my apple.” “Well, here—No, Ben, now don’t. I’m afeard—”
“I’ll give you all of it!”
Tom gave up the brush with reluctance in his face, but alacrity in his heart. And while the late steamer Big Missouri worked and sweated in the sun, the retired artist sat on a barrel in the shade close by, dangled his legs, munched his apple, and planned the slaughter of more innocents. There was no lack of material; boys happened along every little while; they came to jeer, but remained to whitewash. By the time Ben was fagged out, Tom had traded the next chance to Billy Fisher for a kite, in good repair; and when he played out, Johnny Miller bought in for a dead rat and a string to swing it with—and so on, and so on, hour after hour. And when the middle of the afternoon came, from being a poor poverty-stricken boy in the morning, Tom was literally rolling in wealth. He had besides the things before mentioned, twelve marbles, part of a jews-harp, a piece of blue bottle-glass to look through, a spool cannon, a key that wouldn’t unlock anything, a fragment of chalk, a glass stopper of a decanter, a tin soldier, a couple of tadpoles, six fire-crackers, a kitten with only one eye, a brass door-knob, a dog-collar—but no dog—the handle of a knife, four pieces of orange-peel, and a dilapidated old window sash.
He had had a nice, good, idle time all the while—plenty of company—and the fence had three coats of whitewash on it! If he hadn’t run out of whitewash he would have bankrupted every boy in the village.
Tom said to himself that it was not such a hollow world, after all. He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it—namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain. If he had been a great and wise philosopher, like the writer of this book, he would now have comprehended that Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do. And this would help him to understand why constructing artificial flowers or performing on a tread-mill is work, while rolling ten-pins or climbing Mont Blanc is only amusement. There are wealthy gentlemen in England who drive four-horse passenger-coaches twenty or thirty miles on a daily line, in the summer, because the privilege costs them considerable money; but if they were offered wages for the service, that would turn it into work and then they would resign. ....

Friday, May 17, 2024

The way he said it

K. Alan Snyder is working on a paper describing Dorothy L. Sayers's arguments for sound education. Sayer's most well-known paper on the subject is “The Lost Tools of Learning,” which has been part of the inspiration of the classical school movement. Dr. Snyder, doing research at the Wade Center, has discovered an unpublished Sayers lecture about one of those "lost" tools, rhetoric. Sayers on Churchill's effective use of rhetoric:
The cornerstone for this address was the example of Winston Churchill, a leader that Sayers believed had rejuvenated the impact of effective rhetoric. She comments, “At the beginning of the last war, an extraordinary wave of excitement & vivification ran through the nation when Mr. Churchill began to speak on the wireless.”

Sayers adds, “It was not so much what he said—though that was heartening & good—as the way he said it, which was electrical. Events (which were agitating enough) helped of course to put us into the mood to be moved; but at first events were so depressing that if they had been talked about in the old way we should probably have sunk into a lethargy of discouragement.”

Throughout the war, Sayers notes, “that resonant voice trumpeted its way through bad times & good.” Even people who weren’t fans of Churchill or his politics were stirred by the rhetoric of his famous speeches in those dire times. They “drank in great lifesaving draughts of stimulating language with body in it. That marked, I believe, the first steps in the Revival of Rhetoric.”

Thursday, May 16, 2024

A gold heist

I just watched a recently acquired Blu-ray of one of my favorite British comedies, The Lavender Hill Mob (1951). It was produced by Ealing Studios, a company that became famous for a whole series of great comedies, many—including this one—starring Alec Guinness. Other Ealing films that I always enjoy sharing: Whiskey Galore!, Kind Hearts and Coronets, The Man in the White Suit, the original The Ladykillers, and A Run for Your Money, all of which except the first have Guinness in the cast. If you enjoy British humor, you will enjoy any of them. CrimeReads recently published an essay about The Lavender Hill Mob which I excerpt below:
.... It is about two men, neighbors in the small Battersea London neighborhood of Lavender Hill, who become unlikely collaborators, compatriots, and friends by giving into their desires and pursuing a life of crime. Our hero is a mild-mannered bank transfer agent played by Alec Guinness,...and a frustrated artist played by Stanley Holloway (best known as playing Alfred Dolittle in My Fair Lady), who team up to commit an extraordinary heist.

Guinness...is our antihero Henry Holland. He has dutifully worked for the bank for two decades, facilitating the transfer of gold bullion from foundry to vault, every week. Holloway is Alfred Pendlebury, who dreams of being a sculptor but has to settle for carving stone in his off-hours; his day job is making lead souvenir statues. But it’s not long before Holland realizes that, if one wanted to smuggle stolen gold out of the country, all they’d have to do is melt and smelt it into figurines and ship them abroad.

Holland knows that, even if he gets promoted, he’ll never ever make enough money to live a good life. Pendlebury knows he’ll never make it as an artist. So, the realization of an easy smuggling opportunity gives them both a new raison d’être. But they’re going to need help, so they pretend to be tough-guys and enlist the help of two criminals (Alfie Bass and Sidney James), forming a bank robbing gang for the ages. ....

There are many magical tidbits sprinkled through, including a tiny appearance by a young, pre-fame Audrey Hepburn, and a young, pre-fame Robert Shaw. ....

Monday, May 13, 2024


C.S. Lewis on faith:
Now Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods. For moods will change, whatever view your reason takes. I know that by experience. Now that I am a Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable. This rebellion of your moods against your real self is going to come anyway. That is why Faith is such a necessary virtue: unless you teach your moods ‘where they get off’, you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion. Consequently one must train the habit of Faith.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Chapter 11 "Faith" (1952)

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Lying liars

I've been enjoying reading Samuel Johnson's essays. He made his living by writing and there is a great deal of it quite apart from the famous Dictionary. And much of it can be found online. The following is from a 1753 essay about liars:
When Aristotle was once asked, what a man could gain by uttering falsehoods? he replied, “Not to be credited when he shall tell the truth.”

The character of a liar is at once so hateful and contemptible, that even of those who have lost their virtue it might be expected that from the violation of truth they should be restrained by their pride. Almost every other vice that disgraces human nature, may be kept in countenance by applause and association: the corrupter of virgin innocence sees himself envied by the men, and at least not detested by the women; the drunkard may easily unite with beings, devoted like himself to noisy merriments or silent insensibility, who will celebrate his victories over the novices of intemperance, boast themselves the companions of his prowess, and tell with rapture of the multitudes whom unsuccessful emulation has hurried to the grave; even the robber and the cut-throat have their followers, who admire their address and intrepidity, their stratagems of rapine, and their fidelity to the gang.

The liar, and only the liar, is invariably and universally despised, abandoned, and disowned: he has no domestick consolations, which he can oppose to the censure of mankind; he can retire to no fraternity, where his crimes may stand in the place of virtues; but is given up to the hisses of the multitude, without friend and without apologist. It is the peculiar condition of falsehood, to be equally detested by the good and bad: “The devils,” says Sir Thomas Brown, “do not tell lies to one another; for truth is necessary to all societies: nor can the society of hell subsist without it.” ....

Friday, May 10, 2024

"Now I lay me down, to sleep"

From Samuel Johnson "On Sleep":
—Pallas pour’d sweet slumbers on his soul;
And balmy dreams, the gift of soft repose,
Calm’d all his pains, and banish’d all his woes. POPE.
If every day did not produce fresh instances of the ingratitude of mankind, we might, perhaps, be at a loss, why so liberal and impartial a benefactor as sleep, should meet with so few historians or panegyrists. Writers are so totally absorbed by the business of the day, as never to turn their attention to that power, whose officious hand so seasonably suspends the burden of life; and without whose interposition man would not be able to endure the fatigue of labour, however rewarded, or the struggle with opposition, however successful.  ....

Sleep is necessary to the happy to prevent satiety, and to endear life by a short absence; and to the miserable, to relieve them by intervals of quiet. Life is to most, such as could not be endured without frequent intermission of existence....

Sleep, therefore, as the chief of all earthly blessings, is justly appropriated to industry and temperance; the refreshing rest, and the peaceful night, are the portion only of him who lies down weary with honest labour, and free from the fumes of indigested luxury; it is the just doom of laziness and gluttony, to be inactive without ease, and drowsy without tranquillity.

Sleep has been often mentioned as the image of death; “so like it,” says Sir Thomas Brown, “that I dare not trust it without my prayers:” their resemblance is, indeed, apparent and striking; they both, when they seize the body, leave the soul at liberty: and wise is he that remembers of both, that they can be safe and happy only by virtue.

Tuesday, May 7, 2024


Among the treasures at Standard Ebooks I find Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini (1922). This was one of the first books I read in the adult fiction section of the library, having exhausted what seemed interesting in the children's section. I was probably about twelve, maybe younger. The librarian thought I was too young for this book, consulted my father, and wouldn't let me check it out. Whereupon I went to the library every day after school, took the book from the stacks, and read it at a library table. The librarian again consulted Dad. They gave up.

The description of the book at the site:
Peter Blood, with experience as a soldier and sailor, is practicing medicine in Bridgewater, England, when he inadvertently gets caught up in a rebellion being waged by the Duke of Monmouth. After being convicted of treason, Blood and some of the rebels are sentenced to slavery in the Caribbean. The year is 1688.

During the course of Blood’s servitude, he works on the sugar plantation of Colonel Bishop and becomes infatuated with the colonel’s niece, Arabella. When Bishop realizes that Blood is an accomplished physician he “employs” Blood in that capacity.

When the colony is attacked by a Spanish force, Blood and some of the other slaves manage to escape and take over the Spanish ship. Several of the other escapees turn out to be experienced seamen, including as officers in the British Navy. ....
As I've noted before, the eBooks at this site can be downloaded in every format used by e-readers, but I've been reading them online.

From the first chapter of Captain Blood:
Peter Blood, bachelor of medicine and several other things besides, smoked a pipe and tended the geraniums boxed on the sill of his window above Water Lane in the town of Bridgewater.

Sternly disapproving eyes considered him from a window opposite, but went disregarded. Mr. Blood’s attention was divided between his task and the stream of humanity in the narrow street below, pouring for the second time that day in the direction of Castle Field, where earlier in the afternoon Ferguson, the Duke’s chaplain, had preached a sermon that contained more treason than divinity.

These straggling, excited groups were mainly composed of men with green boughs in their hats and the most ludicrous of weapons in their hands. Some, it is true, shouldered fowling pieces, and here and there a sword was brandished; but more of them were armed with clubs, and most of them trailed the mammoth pikes fashioned out of scythes, as formidable to the eye as they were clumsy to the hand. There were weavers, brewers, carpenters, smiths, masons, bricklayers, cobblers, and representatives of every other of the trades of peace among these improvised men of war. Bridgewater, like Taunton, had yielded so generously of its manhood to the service of the bastard Duke that for any to abstain whose age and strength admitted of his bearing arms was to brand himself a coward or a papist.

Yet Peter Blood, who was not only able to bear arms, but trained and skilled in their use, who was certainly no coward, and a papist only when it so suited him, tended his geraniums and smoked his pipe on that warm July evening as indifferently as if nothing were afoot. One other thing he did. He flung after those war-fevered enthusiasts a line of Horace⁠—a poet for whose work he had early conceived an inordinate attachment:
“Quo, quo, scelesti, ruitis?”
And now perhaps you guess why the hot, intrepid blood inherited from the roving sires of his Somersetshire mother remained cool amidst all this frenzied fanatical heat of rebellion, why the turbulent spirit which had forced him once from the sedate academical bonds his father would have imposed upon him, should now remain quiet in the very midst of turbulence. You realize how he regarded these men who were rallying to the banners of liberty⁠—the banners woven by the virgins of Taunton, the girls from the seminaries of Miss Blake and Mrs. Musgrove, who⁠—as the ballad runs⁠—had ripped open their silk petticoats to make colours for King Monmouth’s army. That Latin line, contemptuously flung after them as they clattered down the cobbled street, reveals his mind. To him they were fools rushing in wicked frenzy to their ruin. .... (more)

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Memento mori

Nothing is more evident than that the decays of age must terminate in death; yet there is no man, says Tully, who does not believe that he may yet live another year; and there is none who does not, upon the same principle, hope another year for his parent or his friend: but the fallacy will be in time detected; the last year, the last day, must come. It has come, and is past. The life which made my own life pleasant is at an end, and the gates of death are shut upon my prospects.

The loss of a friend upon whom the heart was fixed, to whom every wish and endeavour tended, is a state of dreary desolation, in which the mind looks abroad impatient of itself, and finds nothing but emptiness and horrour. The blameless life, the artless tenderness, the pious simplicity, the modest resignation, the patient sickness, and the quiet death, are remembered only to add value to the loss, to aggravate regret for what cannot be amended, to deepen sorrow for what cannot be recalled. ....

We know little of the state of departed souls, because such knowledge is not necessary to a good life. Reason deserts us at the brink of the grave, and can give no further intelligence. Revelation is not wholly silent. “There is joy in the angels of Heaven over one sinner that repenteth;” and, surely, this joy is not incommunicable to souls disentangled from the body, and made like angels. ....

These are the great occasions which force the mind to take refuge in religion: when we have no help in ourselves, what can remain but that we look up to a higher and a greater Power? and to what hope may we not raise our eyes and hearts, when we consider that the greatest POWER is the BEST?

Surely there is no man who, thus afflicted, does not seek succour in the gospel, which has brought life and immortality to light. The precepts of Epicurus, who teaches us to endure what the laws of the universe make necessary, may silence, but not content us. The dictates of Zeno, who commands us to look with indifference on external things, may dispose us to conceal our sorrow, but cannot assuage it. Real alleviation of the loss of friends, and rational tranquillity, in the prospect of our own dissolution, can be received only from the promises of Him in whose hands are life and death, and from the assurance of another and better state, in which all tears will be wiped from the eyes, and the whole soul shall be filled with joy. Philosophy may infuse stubbornness, but Religion only can give patience.

Saturday, May 4, 2024

The Hardy Boys

My introduction to mysteries, even before Conan Doyle, was the Hardy Boys series. I read the updated editions published in the '60s. Standard Ebooks is publishing one after another of the original 1920s editions. Recently The Shore Road Mystery, described on the site:
The city of Bayport is at the mercy of a ring of car thieves! Vehicles have been disappearing off of the well-traveled Shore Road for three weeks; eventually, the gang gets bolder and starts moving their sights to the city. With the police and even Fenton Hardy running into dead ends, the town is in an uproar. The ring runs like a well-oiled machine: no one sees the thieves and the cars seemingly disappear into thin air despite patrols on either end of the Shore Road. Incentivized by a victimized friend, the Hardy Boys are determined to bring down the gang … but at what cost?

This is the sixth book of the Hardy boys series, first published in 1928 and then rewritten in 1964. .... This Standard Ebooks edition is based on the original 1928 text.
I once owned almost all the books but at some point, believing I had outgrown them, gave them away.

Thursday, May 2, 2024

How to argue

Of all the memorable statements uttered by Charles Spurgeon, this advice from Lectures to My Students has stuck in my head as much as anything the great preacher said or wrote:
The sensible minister will be particularly gentle in argument. He, above all men, should not make the mistake of fancying that there is force in temper, and power in speaking angrily.... Try to avoid debating with people. State your opinion and let them state theirs. If you see that a stick is crooked, and you want people to see how crooked it is, lay a straight rod down beside it; that will be quite enough. But if you are drawn into controversy, use very hard arguments and very soft words.
So many wise sentiments in these few sentences. We could talk about how “the Lord’s servant,” even as he rightly contends for the faith, “must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness” (2 Tim. 2:24–25). We could talk about the folly of mistaking forcefulness for true spiritual power. We could talk about the wisdom of avoiding protracted debates, by stating your opinion and then moving on. All of that is pure gold.

But I want to focus on the last sentence in the paragraph above. I want to suggest two ways we can make our arguments harder, which in this case means better, more careful, and more persuasive. .... (more)