synthetic authentic


“There is nothing like a doorbell to precipitate the potential into the kinetic. When you stand outside a door and push the button, something has to happen.  Someone must respond; whatever is inside must be revealed. Questions will be answered, uncertainties or mysteries dispelled. A situation will be started on its way through unknown complications to an unpredictable conclusion.  The answer to your summons may be a rush of tearful welcome, a suspicious eye at the crack of the door, a shot through the hardwood, anything.”

Walter Stegner: Crossing to Safety

I don’t know how I was put onto Stegner who is no longer living, and this book in particular which he wrote in 1987 about an earlier time.  But it’s catapulted to very near the top of my all time favourites. The above quote is just one of a dozen that caused me to pause and to marvel.  It’s at once exciting and depressing.  Exciting to know that there are more authors to discover and books to read  Depressing that I don’t have much “reading” time left. 


If when we hear an argument we come across logical inconsistencies, poorly crafted premises or improbable conclusions, the principle of charity calls us neither to rubbish the argument nor to dismiss the person advancing the argument. Instead we are obliged to help re-frame the argument, disentangle its premises, seek out the unspoken assumptions, and then propose a conclusion which can be supported. In short, we must help the arguer re-frame his argument in the best possible light, even if we find both the argument and its proponent disagreeable.

Of course in our world today few would bother. It’s colossal hard work, and our motives are bound to be challenged. It would be way easier to keep quiet, assured that they are wrong and we are right. But wouldn’t we want to be corrected if we were wrong? And what about discovering truth through civilised public discourse? Right.


I cannot think unless I have been thought,

Nor can I speak unless I have been spoken.

I cannot teach except as I am taught,

Or break the bread except as I am broken.

O Mind behind the mind through which I seek,

O Light within the light by which I see,

O Word beneath the words with which I speak,

O founding, unfound Wisdom, finding me,

O sounding Song whose depth is sounding me,

O Memory of time, reminding me,

My Ground of Being, always grounding me,

My Maker’s Bounding Line, defining me,

Come, hidden Wisdom, come with all you bring,

Come to me now, disguised as everything.


Malcolm Guite – O Sapienta An Advent Antiphon



I was at the Memorial Concert for George Harrison at the Royal Albert Hall. It had the great and the good of music there – Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr…but the song that was played right at the end of the concert in honour of George was sung by Joe Brown, “I’ll See You In My Dreams”.  Joe Brown is not the stellar name that perhaps Eric Clapton is or somebody like that but a much respected man of music.  He was the man that was chosen to close the concert because he was a great friend of George Harrison’s and it appeals to me because though I admire the people who are out in front and getting all the attention I always look on a film to see who the character actors are.  If it’s a band I’m looking at the drummer or the bass player or somebody like that.  The people who are not front and centre are of more interest to me than the people who are out front getting all the adulation.  And George Harrison was that person in the Beatles.  He was the quiet one. And Joe Brown was similarly not the “look at me, look at me” guy and I like that.

The people who don’t draw attention to themselves are the powerhouses.  Without the people doing the important work at the sides there wouldn’t be a whole.  So the stars are important but unless they have got people doing the work, playing the bass at the side and playing the drums at the back, being the doctor or the midwife or anything like that you wouldn’t have the story being told and you need these people and they need recognition.

I regard myself as being the jobbing broadcaster … and I think it is what I aspire to be, a jobbing broadcaster.  You put me in a broadcasting role and I will do it and all I am doing is the mid-morning show on Radio 2 and it is not the Breakfast Show.  The Breakfast Show is the star role.  I’m the star’s best friend.  I’m the best man at the wedding, as it were.  I’m very happy in the role.  I don’t wish to be in the spotlight I wish to be standing beside the man or woman in the spotlight saying: There you are.  Didn’t you do well?”

BBC Radio 4 – Inheritance Tracks, Ken Bruce on Sept 22, 2018

Well said Ken!  In all my years I have never heard a celebrity say something like that, and I love his clarity and honesty about who he is, and what he does.  It’s not that he has no aspirations, he is a successful radio host on British National Radio after all.  But he is a man who is comfortable in his own skin. He knows what he is good at, and how he is made up.  I hear contentment, appreciation, and a willingness to play the supporting role to get the job done.  That’s my kind of guy.

Remembrance 2018


DecayI have recently been caused to think about decay * and in so doing I have been reminded of my general preference for things that are slightly past their prime (with the exception of food – over-ripe fruit makes me gag).  In an age that is fixated on the new and “perfect”, the patina of age is under-appreciated.  I have come to realize that I rather like the weather-beaten, the well-worn, and the slightly crumpled.  Faded glory perhaps.

* admittedly a different train of thought, but very worthy of your next five minutes:





Thing.  At. A. Time.

Kids.  Trite as it may sound, that’s generally the way to get things done, however big the task.  I know from experience that it can be paralyzing when faced with a huge job. Where to begin?  How to get through it? Will it ever end?

It’s May 2018 and I am just coming to the end of a downsizing project that involves opening up 1,600 boxes of personal belongings.  Personal effects which had been accumulated over the course of a sixty year marriage, many of which had not seen the light of day for decades.  Their owners had put them away, hoping to get to them soon.

However big the project, just start somewhere.  As you persevere you will find a way through the task.  You will build momentum that will carry you through to the end.  What starts out like a confusing jumble will gradually clarify. And before you know it, you will be at the end, marveling at the truth of my opening statement.  One. Thing. At. A. Time.



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