dual personalities

“Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars”*

Almighty God, Who has given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech Thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of Thy favor and glad to do Thy will. Bless our land with honorable ministry, sound learning, and pure manners.

Save us from violence, discord, and confusion, from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitude brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues.

Endow with Thy spirit of wisdom those to whom in Thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that through obedience to Thy law, we may show forth Thy praise among the nations of the earth.

In time of prosperity fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in Thee to fail; all of which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen. (1928 BCP)

I hope you all had an uplifting Fourth of July and that you were able to celebrate with family and friends. We had the gang over for a barbecue and then we headed to the Kirkwood High School parking lot where we set up camp for the local fireworks display and waited for sundown.

We agreed that the display was not as good as the one in Jeff City, but the company was stellar and the boy had stocked the cooler in his truck with bevvies.

The wee laddie immediately made friends with the family in the next car over and was ready to depart with them at the close of the show, once again earning his title as the Friendliest Boy in Town.

By the way, he also won the prize for the best shooter in his age group at lacrosse camp last week, rocketing shots at 17 miles an hour. His father was pleased and proud. Not bad for our 30-pound (when wet) 5-year old wonder boy.

He has also advanced to off-roading in the Power Wheels Raptor.

Lottie, who is too timid to drive, is nevertheless a terrific backseat driver, as you can see. (“Slow down! Cramp it! Stop!”)

Meanwhile I have caught up with my Bible reading, on which I had fallen embarrassingly behind during my vacation. Phew. I am halfway through the year and halfway through the Bible.

I am really enjoying it and highly recommend it as a daily habit.

We all growl like bears,
And moan sadly like doves;
We look for justice, but there is none;
For salvation, but it is far from us.

Isaiah 59:11

Well, here are a few links to read if you feel like it.

I hear you. “I have been delighted to discover that the closer I draw to God, the less I want of the world.”

Don’t be a Jellyfish Christian. “Mark what I say. If you want to do good in these times, you must throw aside indecision, and take up a distinct, sharply-cut, doctrinal religion. . . . The victories of Christianity, wherever they have been won, have been won by distinct doctrinal theology; by telling men roundly of Christ’s vicarious death and sacrifice; by showing them Christ’s substitution on the cross, and his precious blood; by teaching them justification by faith, and bidding them believe on a crucified Savior; by preaching ruin by sin, redemption by Christ, regeneration by the Spirit; by lifting up the brazen serpent; by telling men to look and live — to believe, repent, and be converted.” (J.C. Ryle, Holiness, 328)

This is excellent.

*Henry Van Dyke

Postcards from Carolina

Daughter #1 and I had a terrific time in Norfolk and on the Outer Banks with daughter #2, DN and Katiebelle, although the trips to and from were arduous, to say the least. (The less said about air travel in the 21st century, the better.) It was well worth it, of course.

I got to see my oldest BFF in her natural habitat in a quick overnight on our way to North Carolina and we talked and talked for hours. It was such a treat.

We got up early on Sunday and drove to the Outer Banks which was lovely.

“Say cheese!”

DN kept us hydrated…

…and we had a couple of dance parties.

We even saw dolphins! Heavenly. And the OM didn’t burn down the house while we were gone.

As always, it’s good to be home!

We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately*

Independence Day (also our dear brother’s birthday) is right around the corner, so it seems like a good time to relate the further adventures of our Tukey ancestors in Falmouth, Massachusetts (aka Portland, Maine), for both the family and the place played a part in the Revolutionary War. Although we celebrate the birth of our country on July 4th, the day that our brave founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, the war for freedom from Great Britain started more than a year earlier, in April 1775, at the Battles of Lexington and Concord.  

Throughout the summer and fall of 1775, the British Navy attacked ports up and down the coast from Boston north, and the coastal towns fought back. In May, the men of Falmouth captured Lieutenant Henry Mowat of the HMS Canceaux only to release him shortly afterward (a serious mistake), and in June the people of Machias captured the HMS Margaretta and killed its captain. In July, our ancestor Stephen Tukey enlisted in Captain Noyes’s company which mustered to defend Falmouth.  Meanwhile, the newly freed Henry Mowat began a punitive expedition against the coastal towns, and on October 18th, 1775, he bombarded Falmouth for several hours and then landed men to set fire to whatever buildings still stood. (To be fair, he had offered the citizens a chance to surrender and swear fealty to King George. They declined.) During the ensuing battle in which Stephen Tukey took part, several of Mowat’s men were killed, though they succeeded in burning down Falmouth, thus leaving its citizens homeless and destitute. The patriots rebuilt and kept fighting.

The war raged on. In 1779, the Americans launched what would be their largest naval campaign of the war, an effort to expel the British from Penobscot Bay. The expedition was an unmitigated disaster because the American commanders, Saltonstall and Lovell, couldn’t agree on what to do and fell prey to their own disorganization, and the British were better equipped, led and trained. One article assessed the American fleet’s weaknesses thus:

“…most of the 900 officers and enlisted men were militia soldiers from Massachusetts or Maine, augmented by 300 Continental marines. Fully 500 more militia conscripts failed to report at Townsend, nearly one-third of the number ordered to do so. Untrained as a unit, few of the men in the expedition had any experience in making an amphibious landing on a hostile shore. Likewise, the 18 armed warships, mounting 334 cannons and augmented by three colonial vessels and 12 privateers, had no prior training together as a fleet. Even worse, the privateers had no military experience acting under orders from a fleet commodore”.

Stephen Tukey and his brother Houchin participated in the ill-fated expedition. Both served in Captain Peter Warren’s Company of Jonathan Mitchell’s Regiment, Stephen as a Sergeant and Houchin a private. And wouldn’t you know — one of the major players on the British side was none other than Henry Mowat, now a captain in command of several ships.

The ships burning — Dominic Serres (1722-1793)

The Americans ended up burning most of their own fleet and making their way home overland in small groups. Commodore Saltonstall was court-marshalled afterward, and Paul Revere, who had commanded the artillery train, was accused of disobeying orders and of cowardice. It’s quite a story. You can read more about it here or try Bernard Cornwell’s novel, The Fort. (I have never read any Cornwell but might have to check it out.)

All in all, Stephen Tukey served for something like 8 months, but those months were full of action and peril. Maybe he didn’t do anything wildly memorable, but he did his part and deserves our respect. Stephen married Hannah Cushing sometime during the war, had at least five children, and lived to the ripe old age of 79.  

This July 4th raise your glass to those doughty men and women to whom we owe our country. If only we were better at living up to their example.

*Benjamin Franklin

“Aunt Mary in a donut”

Greetings from N.C. We have our routine down. Go to beach, eat lunch back at the house, baby takes a nap while we float in the pool, Happy Hour, dinner, sunset, bed. Repeat.

Sometimes we eat out.

Katiebelle got her own “donut” to float in. The vibe is good.

“More water comin’!”

Greetings from Duck, North Carolina where the skies are blue, the temperature divine and the company superlative.

I’ll have more about our travels and our visit in Norfolk next week, but for now, Adieu! We are living in the moment.

P.S. The quote at the top is what Katie yells every time a wave comes in and covers our feet.

Friday eclectic

Last weekend our son James came home to celebrate Father’s Day and catch up with friends who were in town. The DH and I hosted coffee hour at church, for which I made a lemon blueberry Bundt cake and oatmeal cookies. Along with the sugary bits we served the DH’s special homemade hummus, veggies, fruit, cheese and crackers. I include all this to assure you that we do sometimes socialize – at least little bit. We all had a grand time, so naturally I only remembered to take a photo when James bid us adieu; here he and his dad squint happily into the sun.  

The next few days were normal, which is to say that not much happened.  I read and puttered as usual and came across a few interesting tidbits. For instance, I discovered that Davy Crockett was born on the Nolichucky River in eastern Tennessee. Apparently, Nolichucky is an anglicized version of a Cherokee phrase that either means “spruce tree place”, “dangerous waters”, “rushing waters” or “black, swirling water” (Wikipedia). Take your pick.

It’s easy to imagine a young Davy Crockett tracking game along the banks of the beautiful Nolichucky, isn’t it? I think the DH and I might have to explore the area, though perhaps not at the height of summer. 

When not stumbling on interesting factoids, I read a Sumerian epic called “Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta,” and discovered this wonderful passage:

The messenger gave heed to the words of his king. He journeyed by the starry night, and by day he travelled with Utu of heaven. Where and to whom will he carry the important message of Inanna with its stinging tone? He brought it up into the Zubi Mountains, he descended with it from the Zubi Mountains. Susin and the land of Ancan humbly saluted Inanna like tiny mice.

(Sumerian Text Corpus)

It’s the phrase involving ‘tiny mice’ that gets me. Think about it. Way back in the 3rd millennium BC, the epic’s author realized that to a powerful deity like Inanna (aka Ishtar) human worshipers would seem like nothing more than a bunch of tiny, swarming rodents. Those ancients did not have an inflated sense of their own worth – quite the opposite. Life was hard and gods were unpredictable, so humans never really knew where they stood. 

Well, things have certainly changed since Inanna’s time. Recently, I was disturbed to read that teenage vandals damaged the Dailey Ridge Presbyterian Church in Norwood (about half an hour from here) to the tune of about $10,000. This simple church (my favorite kind), which was built in 1853 and is included on the National Register of Historic Places, has no electricity and heats with wood.

Although the perpetrators were apprehended and the church is insured, the small but devoted congregation cannot pay the $1000 deductible. They are working hard to keep the church going, and I suspect the community will rally in support, but such senseless vandalism does no one any good. Meanwhile, maybe the guilty parties will learn a little humility and to respect other people’s property. Maybe they’ll even start going to church– let’s hope so.

Have a great weekend but be humble!

“I fill my lungs, a summer-full of breaths. The great field holds the wind, and sways.”*

Not surprisingly, June has buzzed by. We are a week away from July! I have been taking it easy this week, while also trying to get ready for my trip to North Carolina which commences on Saturday when daughter #1 and I leave at an ungodly hour on a very early flight out of town.

I am praying for easy travel, nice weather and good health for all concerned.

Anyway, I don’t have much to blog about, just a few links and a reminder:

“Beware of manufacturing a God of your own: a God who is all mercy, but not just; a God who is all love, but not holy; a God who has a heaven for every body, but a hell for none; a God who can allow good and bad to be side by side in time, but will make no distinction between good and bad in eternity. Such a God is an idol of your own, as truly an idol as any snake or crocodile in an Egyptian temple. The hands of your own fancy and sentimentality have made him. He is not the God of the Bible, and beside the God of the Bible there is no God at all.”

–J.C. Ryle *1816-1900), evangelical Anglican bishop

This is very true. “Christianity has a long history of taking words seriously. Hold fast to that noble tradition. As Jesus said, ‘by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned’ (Matthew 12:37).”

Our father was like this too. It’s called being a gentleman, which, as we know, is a dying breed.

Hang in there!

*Jay Parini, from the poem “Ordinary Time”

“Surely some revelation is at hand.”

I have a very stressful week ahead of me, then a vacation, and then another even more stressful week. I am confident that my vacation will be filled with annoying emails from people asking for things and not saying please or thank you. Such is the world today. So, for my blog post, I again turned to my bookshelf and trusty Slouching Towards Bethlehem. I’ve used parts of the following before–but this larger quote was just like YES.

“You see I want to be quite obstinate about insisting that we have no way of knowing–beyond that fundamental loyalty to the social code–what is “right” and what is “wrong,” what is “good” and what “evil.” I dwell so upon this because the most disturbing aspect of “morality” seems to me to be the frequency with which the word now appears; in the press, on television, in the most perfunctory kinds of conversation. Questions of straightforward power (or survival) politics, questions of quite indifferent public policy, questions of almost anything: they are all assigned these factitious moral burdens. There is something facile going on, some self-indulgence at work. Of course we would all like to “believe” in something, like to assuage our private guilts in public causes, like to lose our tiresome selves; like, perhaps, to transform the white flag of defeat at home into the brave white banner of battle away from home. And of course it is all right to do that; that is how, immemorially, things have gotten done. But I think it is all right only long as we do not delude ourselves about what we are doing, and why. It is all right only so long as we remember that all the ad hoc committees, all the picket lines, all the brave signatures in The New York Times, all the tools of agitprop straight across the spectrum, do not confer upon anyone any ipso facto virtue. It is all right only so long as we recognize that the end may or may not be expedient, may or may not be a good idea, but in any case has nothing to do with “morality.” Because when we start deceiving ourselves into thinking not that we want something or need something, not that it is a pragmatic necessity for us to have it, but that it is a moral imperative that we have it, then is when we join the fashionable madmen, and then is when the thin whine of hysteria is heard in the land, and then is when we are in bad trouble. And I suspect we are already there.”

–Joan Didion, “On Morality” (1965

 “Consider the lilies, how they grow”*

Yesterday was Juneteenth, which I wrote about back in 2013 before it was a whole thing. As is our custom, we watched The Professionals (1967), starring Woody Strode, in honor of the day. It is a great movie, one of my top 20 favorites.

Coincidentally, we also watched The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) recently–another great movie starring the inimitable Strode. Sergeant Rutledge (1960), of course, is his greatest role.

“That was a classic,” he said later of his part. “It had dignity. John Ford put classic words in my mouth… You never seen a Negro come off a mountain like John Wayne before. I had the greatest Glory Hallelujah ride across the Pecos River that any black man ever had on the screen. And I did it myself. I carried the whole black race across that river.” Amen, brother.

Ay, man is manly. Here you see
  The warrior-carriage of the head,
And brave dilation of the frame;
  And lighting all, the soul that led
In Spottsylvania’s charge to victory,
  Which justifies his fame.

A cheering picture. It is good
  To look upon a Chief like this,
In whom the spirit moulds the form.
  Here favoring Nature, oft remiss,
With eagle mien expressive has endued
  A man to kindle strains that warm.

–From “On the Photograph of a Corps Commander” by Herman Melville

We didn’t watch any special movies for Father’s Day, but here’s a list of Father’s Day movie picks which isn’t bad, but, of course, it only mentions two films made before the year 2000. Here’s my list from a few years ago, which includes some older, excellent movie choices.

This video is inspiring as well as a good reminder of how quickly we forget the devastating things that happen to other people.

And guess what? It’s Day Lily season! The hearty orange blooms are everywhere and will continue to cheer us up for several weeks as it heats up in flyover country.

The lilies in our yard are lagging behind, but they are coming along. Ain’t they grand?

Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

*Luke 12:27

Pickin’ and grinnin’

As you know, I had quite a week, what with volunteering at Vacation Bible School…

…but the fun did not end there. After a slam bang VBS finish on Friday morning (which included a big slip ‘n slide on the front lawn), I rushed home to meet the OM so that we could drive to Jefferson City where we celebrated Father’s Day by attending a Ricky Skaggs concert with daughter #1 in the city’s outdoor amphitheater.

(As usual I did my best to advertise for Ultimate Lacrosse as well as use my Unclaimed Property fan to great advantage! It was super hot.)

We have seen Ricky in concert at least four times. The first time was in Nashville at the Grand Ole Opry twenty-five years ago.

Taken with a camera–before cell phones!

We have all aged quite a bit since those glory days, but ol’ Ricky and his Kentucky Thunder Band still put on a great show.

No one goes to a Bluegrass concert who isn’t really into it, so the crowd is always rockin’–and this crowd of mid-Missouri oldsters was no exception.

I went to my first Bluegrass concert back in the 1970s. It was the legendary Doc Watson and his son Merle, playing in Graham Chapel at Washington University. I went with my brother and his friend Tom, who were bluegrass musicians themselves. I have been a fan ever since.

Anyway, we stayed up way past our usual bedtime on Friday night, but Ricky Skaggs was worth it.

On Saturday, daughter #1 and I went to a few favorite places in JC…

including the always interesting “Vin-tique” antique mall. Then we all had lunch at Steak ‘N Shake, followed by a treat at Central Dairy before heading home and collapsing.

On Sunday I had to wear my VBS t-shirt one last time to church for the final celebration and explosive display of Christian enthusiasm before we all settled back down into our more sedate Presbyterian worship. The OM and I thought we would bring the boy lunch at his store after church since he had to work, but every place we tried to stop was way too crowded and the drive-through lines were too long, so we just stopped by and said “Happy Father’s Day!” and went home. C’est la vie.

Here’s hoping life will be calmer this week while I ready myself to visit this little tyke and her parents in North Carolina next weekend.