A sad, lonely end for a very dangerous man

I’m not sure how many of my readers are familiar with the story of Thomas Silverstein.  He was convicted of multiple murders while behind bars, and as a result spent the last 35 years of his life in almost continuous solitary confinement.  He died in hospital in Colorado last month. Silverstein was profiled in Pete Earley’s 1992 book “The Hot House:  Life Inside Leavenworth Prison“.  He became something of a celebrity as a result . . . largely to those who had little or no idea just how very dangerous this man was, and how utterly evil his actions were. (By the

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It’s about time funeral homes got shaken up

In my years as a pastor, I became very cynical and negative about the funeral home “industry”.  I saw far too many grieving families, particularly older bereaved partners, conned into spending far more money than necessary on funeral arrangements.  The funeral home directors and employees were experts at playing on emotions, tugging at heartstrings, and using the natural grief and lack of concentration of the bereaved to persuade them to buy unnecessarily elaborate coffins, flower arrangements and other impedimenta, pay for unnecessary funeral home and graveside services, and generally open their wallets to being outrageously abused. To my fury, I

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The first Memorial Day

Memorial Day, celebrated today in the United States, wasn’t always called that.  It was named Decoration Day by the man who started it, General John A. Logan, the national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, a fraternal organization of veterans of the Civil War Union forces.  The celebration was first observed on May 30, 1868 at Arlington National Cemetery.  It was renamed Memorial Day in 1967. Here’s the original Proclamation that started the ball rolling. General Order No. 11 Headquarters, Grand Army of the Republic Washington, D.C., May 5, 1868 I. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the

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A sobering reminder of an eternal reality

Daniel Greenberg, who blogs at Sultan Knish, is going through the slow, but inevitable loss of a loved one.  He’s written about it, very personally and very movingly. Our lives are defined by numbers. Our deaths are defined by them too. Somewhere out of sight, in the world or in our bodies, a clock ticks insistently away. Most of the time we are fortunate enough to be deaf to the relentless clockwork march of time. Until we begin to hear. And are unable to stop. There are many clocks in the hospital room where she lies dying beneath a plastic blanket inflated

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RIP, Tim Conway, and thanks for all the laughs

Beloved actor and comedian Tim Conway died this morning in Los Angeles.  He was famous for his roles on The Carol Burnett Show, as well as other productions. He was truly a comic genius, and a master of timing.  To illustrate, here’s one of his most famous sketches from The Carol Burnett Show:  the Elephant Story. Hilarious, human, and touching.  God rest you, Mr. Conway, and thanks for many happy memories. Peter

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Quick road trip on a sad occasion

Sadly, and suddenly and without warning, the father of a friend died last weekend.  Miss D. and I will be heading south this morning for the funeral.  Please keep us in your prayers for traveling safety and the like; and also for the survivors of the departed, for whom funerals are always tough. We hope to be back by this evening. I’ve queued up a couple of blog posts for later in the morning, so you won’t be short of reading matter. Peter

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Sunday morning music

I woke up this morning to find an e-mail informing me of the death of a long-time acquaintance in South Africa.  We were never close friends, but Tony did a lot of good work in that country at a very difficult time, and he and I shared a couple of pretty hair-raising experiences.  He was a good man.  May he find his reward in eternity. In memory of him, here are a couple of the songs he really liked, and would play over and over – sometimes to the point of being threatened with violence by the rest of us

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Sunday morning music

In memory of the victims of yesterday’s hate crime at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, here’s the traditional Jewish prayer, Kaddish, recited for the dead. May the souls of the victims rest in peace: and may anti-Semitism, which is just another form of the even more ancient evils of racism and sectarianism, be cursed along with them in the sight of God and humankind. May those who espouse such views come to their senses before another such evil is perpetrated. That’s a pipe dream, I know . . . but it’s still worth praying for. Peter

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