Charles Portis The Arkansas born and bred author, Charles Portis, wrote more than True Grit, a feat that is itself a remarkable one. I just read the last line of The Dog of the South and what a last line to an engaging book it was. Next on my reading horizon is Masters of Atlantis. I suppose I’m on a Portis jag.

What is it about Portis? Not only does he get you on True Gritthe inside of his characters’ well-developed heads, but he describes the transactions of the plot with uncanny and humorous insight. Like a Garrison Keillor, he has the ability to paint a picture of the peculiarities and deficits of human nature without dehumanizing the character.

The Dog of the SouthIn a 1998 edition of Esquire Magazine Ron Rosenbaum wrote a review in which he referred to Portis as “a maddeningly underappreciated American writer.”

He has a way of exposing folly and absurdity that has not been imposed on the characters and plot but is found interlaced within them and it. It takes a the keen eye of the attentive observer of human nature to do that. And he has it.


Six Doors Moran Quote

WIPFSTOCK_TemplateIt’s finally here! Sure you can order your own copy of Six Doors to the Seventh Dimension direct from our publisher, Wipf & Stock:

This collaborative devotional creation escorts the reader through the metaphorical house of your life. Creative partners Genevieve Howard, Jenny McGee and I co-created a narrative, artistic, poetic journey that leads from one door of your life to the next. Where it all leads is, well, part of the mystery!

For more information visit our web site at And if you are local to Columbia, Missouri join us for the book launch celebration on Friday, September 5, 6-8pm at the Columbia Art League on 9th Street. Join friends for a taste of wine, cheese, words and image. And of course to pick up your copy of the book if you haven’t ordered it!

By golly the newest book on the block is going live on the Wipf & Stock website in two weeks and then Amazon in six weeks! Hugs to co-creators Genevieve Howard and Jenny McGee!

Take a second and click through to our new website:

Coffee Stains on Mark

Posted: July 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

When I am in a retreat setting, at a camp and conference, in nature, traveling in the developing world I instinctively read in Mark’s Gospel. It’s elemental, earthy, direct, powerful in its simplicity. That’s how it was just now as I read and drank my coffee … and accidentally splashed it all over chapter 3. After mopping it up I look at the now permanent stain. “What is going to be highlighted in coffee color from here on?” And it is:

“A house divided cannot stand.”

Rocheport RiverThis old river town, Rocheport, has served as home for many in the passing centuries. It has quietly hosted the Osage Indians as they hunted its woods and fished its rivers, the passage of Lewis and Clark, homesteading of the Boones, the passage of settlers and pioneers toward the Santa Fe and Oregon trails, traveling preachers like Alexander Campbell and Barton Stone, riverboats, then trains, and then roads and highways and bridges. Today it is a sleepy town peppered with antique stores and B&Bs. And it is a new home to me.

Tonight, as I walked the KATY trail along the Missouri River in the cooling evening, the words of Robert Frost came to mind. No matter that they originally emerged in the depths of winter, the darkest day of the year. They work just fine for July, too. For a moment, in the continuity of time and that which reaches beyond time, they became my own:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

A Fighting ChanceElizabeth Warren came from humble roots, truly, not just the stories politicians often weave to help the electorate identity with them. She pieced together the way to get through a state university and law school and began practicing. In time her expertise in economic issues, particularly bankruptcy, moved toward the center of the educational stage. She ended up teaching law and economics at Harvard. From there people began to tap her as a player in the political process, especially as regards the financial industry. After the onset of the great recession she was appointed to create and develop a consumer protection agency, which she did. It was mightily resisted by the very powerful with large interests at stake. The effort eventually prevailed. And then she ran for the United States Senate and was elected. She occupies a rare chair in those chambers, as the Senator with perhaps the most economic smarts of the bunch.

But smarts is not what gets her in trouble and evokes the ire of the rich and powerful. What gets her in trouble is challenging the privileged social and political location of corporations too big to fail, corporations that are bailed out while citizens who are violated by those very corporations are not bailed out.

I recommend this autobiography highly. It provides a glimpse into the role of big money, the buying of America by the rich and powerful and how the uneven playing field that crushes the middle and lower classes continues to tilt. People like Elizabeth Warren are devoted to exposing the truth and doing something about it for the sake of her grandchildren and all grandchildren. It’s a good read. And she’s a fine person.