Weekday Meditation: Going Into the Desert of My Soul

Today I begin to follow my Triune God

into the desert of my soul.

And let go

The Father goes with me (much like Abraham went with Isaac?)

The Son follows along side me (like the crowd on the way to Calvary?)

The Spirit pushes me from behind (like He did to Jesus after His baptism?)

My soul is full… right now

It has my Bible readings from this morning

And my prayer time of day

and the noise of life

the steady drum of tasks to be done

But how many days, hours… minutes

will it last before the dryness, the fear creating silence kicks in?

And I am left with nothing substantive because I have filled my soul

with sugary things and little protein

Why… on.earth…. amihere?

To let go so that I can re-embrace grace and the God of grace?


to simplify

to clean out

clean up

the clutter in my soul

and be able to more clearly (if only for short stretches of time)

experience God spirit to spirit

and find the spring in the desert called communion.



My Review of Karl Rove’s The Triumph of William McKinley

25786037With his newest book, The Triumph of William McKinley: Why the Election of 1896 Still Matters, Karl Rove has taken the past, in this case a past Presidential election of 120 years ago, and with insight as a political strategist and operative, demonstrated how that election, the election of 1896, has impacted American Political history from then to this day.

The result is a detailed and engaging study of how McKinley, considered by the GOP political bosses of that day to be a non-entity in the 1896 race built an organization in the year running up to the election and used it to gain control of the GOP and then the convention itself, and during the campaign made the risky decision to reach out to new voting blocks of Catholic, African-American, and new immigrants thus expanding the base of the GOP.

While the first six chapters, chronicling McKinley’s life and early political endeavors, are helpful they set the background for the heart of the book which begins with chapter 7, The Major’s War Plan, in which the themes of unity and discipline are sketched out that formed the basis of McKinley’s successful campaign. From there Rove sketches in detail the personalities of that campaign, the very divisive issue between gold backed and silver backed currency issue and its impact on the two major parties, the decisions of both McKinley and Bryan as to tactics used (Bryan’s exhausting campaign across the country and McKinley’s legendary “front porch” campaign) and the campaign itself between the charismatic and mercurial William Jennings Bryan and the steady William McKinley. In the final chapter, McKinley’s Triumph, Rove suggests eight reasons McKinley won the election.

“…he conducted a campaign based on big issues, namely sound money  and protection.”

(McKinley believed in sound money and thus leaned toward maintaining the Gold standard)

McKinley “after hemming and hawing…took on his opponent’s supposed strength-Bryan’s advocacy of Free Silver.”

“…he was a different kind of Republican who recognized his party must broaden and modernize its appeal or it would lose.”

“…he broadened the electoral battlefield” because “McKinley and his managers understood the election would be fought in more states and among more voters than in past elections…”

“…he ran for the nomination as an outsider, undercutting the traditional role played by the party bosses in settling the nomination by deals at the convention itself… he refused to be bound by the practices that elevated party bosses…”

“…he was seen as a candidate of change…”

“He ran as a unifier, adopting the language of national reconciliation… McKinley understood that Americans thirsted for someone who could replace discord and rancor with optimism and unity.”

Noting that “a campaign organization must complete three tasks: maximize turn-out among the party’s traditional followers, target and persuade swing or non-voters, and push its message in the face of an opponent’s attacks, ” Rove notes that “McKinley won by accomplishing these tasks” and that “this was the eighth and most important reason for McKinley’s victory: the quality of a candidate’s campaign makes a critical difference…”

The Triumph of William McKinley is a great piece of and on American political history. In my very amateur opinion, Rove does a very good job taking the reader on a journey back in time to an election that, either direction, would shape America’s entry into the 20th century.

If you are looking for a book about McKinley and a further study of his life and his Presidency, then this is not the book for you. Rove has several suggestions in his bibliography about some of those books (and I read the late Margaret Leech’s Pulitzer Prize winning biography In the Days of McKinley several years ago).

But if you are looking for an insightful read of an election in a time of American life that has some similarities (notably a divided society in need of unity) today’s society, then this book is a worthy read. I liked it for its thoughtful detail and its insights into the American political process.

My Goodreads’ rating is 4 star.

Note: this book was given to me as a gift and I chose to write a review of it.


Simplify – on the doorstep of Lent

Today I wrote my first journal entry about my One Word for 2016







Today is Fat Tuesday and tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. We are six weeks into 2016.


Simplify is the word for this year.




Let Go


Let God


Life at 58 is different than 48, 38, 28, and 18….


maybe 20 to 25 years left?


I don’t know


But to live well I know that I must simplify my diet. Eat better. Eat wiser


Here comes Lent – simplify – stop eating this and that… to focus on what is best


Do I need all of the stuff I have been hanging onto for 30 or so years?


Books I will never read again…


Mugs I will never drink from again…


Get rid of them, sell them to someone else for them to enjoy on their journey as you have had Jim, on yours.


I cannot help but link simplify to focus and focus to simplify


on what?


for what?


maybe  Stephen Schwartz (and Richard the Bishop) says it best:


“To see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, follow thee more nearly day by day…”

Daily Prompt: Second Time Around

Today’s Daily Prompt asks

Tell us about a book you can read again and again without getting bored — what is it that speaks to you?

Around 25 years ago a now late friend showed me a new book out by a man who had a rebirth of faith and a turnaround of life through the 12 Steps of AA. The man was the late Keith Miller.

The book was A Hunger for Healing: The Twelve Steps as a Classic Model for 50352Christian Spiritual Growth

I have read this book many, many times over these past 25 years and I even replaced the original hardcover that I lost in a fire with the paperback I have today.

I know that there are those who have difficulty with; do not believe in; totally reject the 12 Steps. I acknowledge and respect them. However, given my life, I have found that there have been habits and more importantly, attitudes that have caused me pain and caused pain in others.

Having walked through this book, I have been given a tool to work on those habits and attitudes that bring me down and affect my relationship with my God, my family and friends, and even my work.

It is a book that I can read over and over and find help and insight in and through each time I read it. It also serves to remind me that there is a God, my Higher Power if you will, who wants to help me overcome and live more free, more authentically, more humanly.


My Review of Sarah Arthur’s Between Midnight and Dawn

28460231With the season of Lent upon us, I have found a wonderful guide to prayer and reflection for it with Sarah Arthur’s Between Midnight and Dawn: A Literary Guide for Lent, Holy Week, and Eastertide. (Paraclete Press 2016).

Midnight and Dawn draws upon relevant readings from the Psalms, Old Testament, Epistles, Gospel accounts and a deep breadth of literary excerpts from 17th century poet George Herbert to 19th century poet Gerard Manley Hopkins to contemporary American poet Anya Silver. The result is a rich and inspirational guide for Lent, Holy Week, and Easter.

The title, which draws upon a portion of TS Eliot’s “The Dry Salvages” in Four Quartets 

Between midnight and dawn, when the past is all deception,
The future futureless, before the morning watch
When time stops and time is never ending;
And the ground swell, that is and was from the beginning,
The bell.

is divided into twenty-one sections with six given to the season of Lent beginning with Ash Wednesday, eight for the Holy Week and the Triduum (Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter) and then seven for the following seven weeks of Easter.

I have used similar guides in the past and found them very helpful to/for me. But what I appreciate about this guide is the rich literary pieces featured in the readings.

For example,

there is this quote from Alfred Lloyd Tennyson’s “In Memoiram A.H.H”

Thou seemest human and divine,

The highest, holiest manhood, thou: Our will are ours, we know not how:

Our wills are ours, to make them thine.

Then there is Anya Silver’s “Ash Wednesday” which includes this line

If God won’t give me His body to clutch,
I’ll grind this soot in my skin instead.

The result is some wonderful  imagery that truly gave me a pause for reflection on this season of the Christian faith.

I really liked Between Dawn and Midnight and I am going to be using it as part of my Lenten prayer and meditations.

My Goodreads rating is 4 stars!

Note: I was received a galley copy of this book via the publisher and Net Galley in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Midweek Meditation – A Pre-Lenten Lenten Prayer of Growth

Several years ago I wrote out a prayer that I try to pray daily and which I wrote to aid me in following the Lord more fully. I have shared it with a few friends over the past couple of years (and maybe here, I don’t remember) but I offer it as an aid for those who read it and as preparation for Lent and during this upcoming Lenten season:


I offer my mind and imagination to You;

May I think and imagine as You would have me think and imagine

Sanctify my thoughts and imagination.


I offer my eyes to You;

May I see and understand what You would have me see and and understand

Sanctify my vision


I offer my ears to You;

May I hear and understand what You would have me hear and understand

Sanctify my hearing


I offer my mouth to You;

May I say, eat, and drink what You would have me say, eat, and drink

Sanctify my speech and my appetite.


I offer my hands to You;

May I touch, care, and serve as You would have me touch, care, and serve

Sanctify my touch, my care, and my service


I offer my feet to You;

May I go where you would have me go

Sanctify my direction


I offer my heart to You;

May I love and believe as You would have me love and believe

Sanctify my heart


I offer my will to You;

May I choose and desire what You would have me choose and desire

Sanctify my will


I offer my body, my money, my marriage, my parenting to You

Sanctify them all for Your honor and glory and power.


On the Book Table and the Kindle

Wow… the month of January flew by but the book table and kindle are loaded up for February 2016!

On the book table is… (still)

25786037Karl Rove’s The Triumph of William McKinley: What the Election of 1896 Still Matters. (Simon and Schuster, 2015) I am about half way through this book and I am enjoying reading a contemporary political strategist unpack an election which took place 120 years ago! (That’s 31 presidential elections ago!) Rove’s detailed attention to McKinley’s campaign for the Republican nomination of 1896 is great reading and an education in the political and, to me, social history of the US. I hope to finish it soon!



25387654Jon Meacham’s Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush. (Random House, 2015) Once I am done with Rove’s book, this one is next.




13049569Robert A Caro’s The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power (Vintage Press, 2012) The fourth of a anticipated five volume set, this series on LBJ was got me started on my long journey of reading a biography or autobiography of every American President after I read Nixon’s memoirs. It will get read, not sure how soon, as I have few more books (as you will see) ahead of it.


Now on the kindle…

TLOP-Front-215x300Linda Carlson’s The Language of Publishing: An A to Z Glossary of Book Publishing Terms (IPBA, 2015)

Hoping to be published some day (and I have had some religious writings published) as a book author, I have Linda Carlson’s go to guide to read to help me understand the world of publishing.


27161576Roger Daniels’ Franklin D Roosevelt: The War Years, 1939-1945 (University of Illinois Press, TBP March 30, 2016)

I read the first volume of Daniels’  FDR biography last year and liked it. Looking forward to this second volume.


25814436Charles Rappleye’s Herbert Hoover in the White House: The Ordeal of the Presidency (Simon and Schuster, TBP May 2016)

Rappleye is an editor and writer who has written books on Robert Morris who financed Washington during the American Revolution and a book about John and Moses Brown, The Sons of Providence. 


23199738Bob Mayer’s Area 51: Time Patrol (Nightstalkers, Book 4) (47North Publishing 2015)

I really like this series and have started this book and need to finish it.



28460231Sarah Arthur’s Between Midnight and Dawn: A Literary Prayer Guide to Lent, Holy Week, and Eastertide (Paraclete Press, 2015)

With Lent around the corner, I took to this like a uh… well… Anyway, I downloaded it from Net Galley. It will be getting an immediate read for both my personal and professional life (minister) as well as for a review.


22574114Gerald Hiestand and Todd Wilson’s The Pastor Theologian: Resurrecting an Ancient Vision (Zondervan, 2015)

I have been in parish ministry for nearly three decades and it has changed. But I am reading, hearing, and feeling more and more discontent and frustration with the current models of pastoring that seem more like CEO (Chief Executive Officer) than CSO (Chief Spiritual Officer). Interested, very interested in this.


25043220Peter Scazzero’s The Emotionally Healthy Leader (Zondervan, 2015)

I read Scazzero’s The Emotionally Healthy Church about ten years ago and found it helpful. Realizing that I need to be emotionally healthy on a continual basis, I am looking forward to this book.



26700530Elizabeth Drescher’s Choosing our Religion: The Spiritual Lives of America’s Nones (TBP, Oxford University Press, 2016)

I have read many articles about the rise of “nones,” religiously unaffiliated persons whose numbers have seem to grow each year. Now, I am looking forward to reading the stories of some of the “nones.”

I will definitely…