Friday, September 22, 2017

I watch the rain

After Isaiah 55

I watch the rain
steady drops without pattern
a simple profusion of atomized water
refracted by light as it fell
from white vapors, billows

the drops fall on hill
and mountain, field and
valley, so profuse that
some runs off, ricocheting
into streams and rivers
flowing like words
words from the heavens
atomized into droplets of light
cast upon the mountains
and hills, freshening the fields
and valleys, a sustenance
of creation.

Photograph by Eutah Mizushima via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

“The China Governess” by Margery Allingham

Timothy Kinnit has just about everything going for him. Adopted as a baby into a wealthy family, he’s just finished Oxford. He’s in love with Julia Laurell, a beautiful young woman whose father is a major manufacturer (and wealthy). Tim and Julia are right on the verge of eloping.

And then the world turns upside down. Tim had always believed he was the illegitimate son of a Kinnit, and that turns out not to be the case. He goes looking for where he came from, and gets beaten up by a private detective. There appears to be a connection to the trashing of an apartment in the area of east London where Tim was likely born. And then the detective agency finds itself the victim of arson, and Tim is the prime suspect.

Enter Superintendent Charles Luke of Scotland Yard. And enter amateur detective Albert Campion.

In The China Governess, Golden Age mystery writer Margery Allingham (1904-1966) mixes an eccentric family, secrets buried in the past, disguised identities, a murder or two, and romance (it’s not an Allingham mystery novel without romance). The result is a fast-paced, entertaining mystery.

Margery Allingham
First published in 1963, three years before Allingham’s death, and set in the early 1960s, The China Governess isn’t the kind of English country manor murder mystery so popular during the Golden Age (1920s-1940s). There’s only one short scene that actually occurs in the country, and that happens early in the book. Most of the action is centered in London, which is still rebuilding after the blitz of 1940-1941. There are still relics of earlier houses, however, and the Kinnits’ Well House is one of them.

It’s an Albert Campion mystery, and Campion is the sleuth that helped make Allingham famous in her own lifetime. But the character who steals the show is Mrs. Broome, something of the housekeeper for the Kinnits’ country home who comes to London to help out at Well House. Almost Dickensian in character, Mrs. Broome is alternately funny, insightful, forgetful, and always highly protective. She is one of Allingham’s great characters.

The China Governess is a great treat, demonstrating that Allingham lost none of her detective writing abilities in her later books.


The Beckoning Lady by Margery Allingham

Top photograph: a London cul-de-sac much like the setting of Well House in The China Governess.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

“How Should I Think About Money” by R.C. Sproul

The Bible is filled with stories, sayings, and observations about money and wealth. Jesus and the rich young ruler. The parable of the man and his barns. The Book of Proverbs. We’re reminded again and again to lay up our treasures in heaven and not on earth. And yet we continue to have to be reminded.

The trick about money and wealth is just that – a trick. We come to see ourselves as the source of our money and contentment. We come to see our wealth (especially in America) as a measure of virtue and moral superiority. It’s all a trick because it’s not really about money. A fixation on money is really a fixation on self.

As part of his Crucial Questions series, R.C. Sproul has produced How Should I Think about Money?. And he starts where he should start – with the concept and definition of stewardship. The Biblical idea of stewardship, in fact, frames the entire book, and he notes the connection between stewardship as taught in the Bible and the academic discipline of economics. How we use our resources, he says, is the concern of both. And the understanding stewardship is the foundation for understanding about money and resources.

R.C. Sproul
The author considers the reasons for poverty, the building of wealth, the theory of value, why money actually is, inflation, interest, and participating in ownership. All of these topics also fall into the province of economics, but what Sproul does is to ground his discussion in Biblical principles.

Sproul is the author of numerous books, articles, sermons, and speeches on Christianity, church history, theology, Calvinism, and related topics. He leads the teaching fellowship Ligonier Ministries, based in Sanford, Florida. The series now includes some 25 topics which are free as eBooks.

How Should I Think about Money? is a primer on the Biblical understanding of money. But it is also something more – a primer on stewardship, and how we are to use the resources God has given us.


Top photograph by Aidan Bartos via Unsplash. Used with permission.