The Sun Shines Bright

Now that  Gone with the Wind  has been taken out of HBO’s lineup for the addition of salubrious context, I commend The Sun Shines Bright, circa nineteen fifty-three–that is, if you’d like to see Hollywood at its most politically incorrect, on one hand, and it’s most heartfelt poignant, on the other. John Ford claimed it […]


To explain the complex, finely tuned relationship between blacks and whites in the south is beyond the power of human language and far too elusive for the clumsy antiseptic tools of modern social science or the mercenary cliches of the media. Such an explanation would have to include the the panorama of an entire civilization […]

Apologia for the confederate soldier

Barefoot and swatting gnats and flies that swarm around the open sore on his forearm, he’s leaning against a pine tree by the tracks, waiting with the others. When he left home, back in Emanuel County, his pappy gave him his old cap lock musket, but he hadn’t fired it much because he was skinny […]

The Furies

Watching some fine old westerns. Check out The Furies (a play on the Greek spirits of revenge) with Barbara Stanwyck and Walter Huston, black and white, Anthony Newman directed. An epic depiction of a father daughter relationship with hints of Antigone and Creon on a  sweeping scale, all played out in the Arizona cattle country […]

Mink River

Just read Brian Doyle’s Mink River, a fresh, Joyecean immersion in the mythic and green world of the northwest coast, complete with native American lore,  a man who lost his skin and had to be sewn back in it, crows that speak wisely, and a man who feels acutely the pain of others, even from […]

Her Favorite Word

1962, Detroit: Ralph, Age 18, Clerk at the 7/11 My daddy was a cheater, a dead-eye deleter, his gut giggly ruse: light the two minute fuse that Hiroshimaed momma into twenty tiny atolls of mammalian animosity. His days: beer, bull and baseball stats in Speedy’s body shop, welders and sweltering Lucky Strike-a-fied air. His nights […]

Usura and Same Sex Relations

Ezekiel 18:8 condemns the man who lends and demands interest. In fact, according to the prophet, the man who does so should be put to death. Not prison. Not exile. Death. And a similar condemnation of usury echoes throughout scripture: . 1.  1 Timothy 6:17-19 Command those who are rich in this world’s goods not to […]

Thoughts on Genesis

When I think about the opening of Genesis I am reminded of a physicist.  Someone asked him what he was looking at when he “looked” into the nucleus of an atom. He said “Words are useless. And even if I could find some, nobody would believe me. Nobody would believe me. The Hebrew uses the […]

Was O’Connor Wrong?

Ralph Wood suggests in the Comedy of Redemption that Flannery O’Connor misinterpreted  Matthew 11:12 which she used as the title of her second novel: “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away.” From her letters we know that Flannery understood “the violent” […]

John Whitworth

A fine English poet, John Whitworth, has passed away. I don’t know enough superlatives, so here’s John’s “Morocco Bound.” John Passed in April, but here in mid-summer he’s been on my mind. (The last line of the chorus rightly belongs to Bing Crosby in ‘The Road to Morocco’). We’re weirdy bards, we’re beardy bards, fine […]