Let Jesus Calm Our Hearts

Jeff Garrison
Bluemont and Mayberry Churches
July 3, 2022
Luke 8:22-25

Sermon taped at Mayberry Church on Friday, July 1, 2022. Remember, during the summer, weather permitting, both churches will be worshipping outside.

At the beginning of worship:

I’m afraid the church, as an institution, along with our world, is heading for stormy waters. Some who claim to be a part of the church are doing outrageous things. From Christian nationalism to the extreme, a pastor in Texas preaching for the execution of gays. So much for love and grace and forgiveness and other Christ-like virtues. “Shoot them in the back of the head,” he suggested.[1] I don’t want to be a part of an organization like that, and hopefully neither do you.

Sadly, one outlier like him tends to taint all of us who strive to follow Jesus (not that I think he was following Jesus, but that’s another topic). Such renegades provide those outside the church with a reason to stay outside. In this series of sermons, I want to consider how to invite people into the church. We have work to do, to overcome such behavior which creates a negative view of the Church. 

The challenge to today’s church

The amount of hate spewed toward the church and Christianity seems to be on the rise. When those outside the Church lump us all together, they miss the concept of the church as a place of love, acceptance, and grace. The church consists of people like us, who admit our sinfulness, and depend on the grace offered by Jesus Christ. Without his grace, we’d all be sailing into a storm without a rudder.

Being Christians

“We should not simply be known as Christians,” Ignatius told the church in the second century, “but really be Christians.”[2] That advice still holds true for today.

In this stormy time in which the world seems to be headed, we need to do a better job of conveying the love and grace of Jesus. We must show the world we care and accept one another with open arms. As we’re all in the same boat, we illustrate our trust in Jesus. We need to be good neighbors while modelling compassion and love. We don’t know how things will turn out, but we have faith that God is amongst us and in the end, everything will work out. But sometimes, when we are in the middle of a storm, it’s easy to lose sight of this, as we’re going to see in our Scripture for today. 

Read Luke 8:22-25

The Savannah Sail Club often held late Wednesday afternoon regattas during the longer days of summer. A group of us from the Landings Sail Club would often sail with them. These were fun times. However, because of thunderstorms, such events were frequently cancelled. 

Sailing in a Gal

Then there was this time. The day had been hot, and the wind squirrelly. The weather forecast suggested the storms popping up inland and moving north. This was often the case for the sea breeze would come in during the afternoon. The cool wind from over the ocean blows across the hot land, which generally kept the storms inland. 

We were sailing out of the Skidaway River, on the second leg of the race, making for the marker at the Wilmington River where we were to head toward Wassaw Sound, before rounding a buoy and returning to the Savannah Yacht Marina on Wilmington Island. That’s when we realized the sea breeze wasn’t as strong as we thought as a storm moved quickly over us. We were hit with 45 mile an hour straight line winds, and it was all we could do to keep the boat upright. 

Crewing on a Rhodes 19

I was part of a three-person crew on a Rhodes 19, a small racing dingy. All three of us climbed up on the high side of the boat, trying to balance it out. I controlled the jib sheets, letting the foresail out to spill wind. Chris took control of the main sheets from Ken and did the same. Ken, who was at the helm, pulled hard on the rudder to bring us into the wind, but it wasn’t much use. A boat heeled over that far means only a small part of the rudder is in the water. We struggled, as a torrent of rain accompanied the winds. 

Right next to us, also heeled over, was a much larger boat with a mast a good 10 taller than ours. That boat was named “Lightning Rod.” It seemed a bad omen as lightning bolts began to pop around us. With the wind, the beating rain, lighting bolts instantly followed by the clamp of thunder, I thought we might perish. Sadly, we didn’t have Jesus physically on board to wake up and still the storm, but I can assure you, prayers were offered. 

Prayers answered

Our prayers were answered and in a few minutes the wind died. The water that had been foaming became like glass. There was no wind, and the tide was running against us. We lost all headway, as the boat moved backwards. 

It’s terrifying to be on a small boat in a gale. Thankfully, in the storm I described, the terrifying part only lasted maybe ten minutes, then there was bailing and checking gear to make sure nothing broke during the gale. 

Sailing on mountain lakes

Sailing on mountain lakes, like Galilee, can even be more terrifying. The wind funnels down the mountain through ravines and pours out onto the water like the exhaust from a turbine. The interaction between the warm waters and the cool air from the hills creates unpredictable weather. Such a situation is challenging, even for seasoned sailors like half of the disciples who fished for a living. 

Gillian’s Island Interlude

We could open this passage with the Legend of Gilligan’s Island:

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale
a tale of a fateful trip,
that started from this tropic port,
aboard this tiny ship.[3]

The area around Galilee was tropical. Located below sea level, the climate was moderate enough that crops could be grown most of the year. And the lake is only nine miles long, seven miles wide, so the disciples and Jesus aren’t planning to be gone too long. They push off from one side of the lake, expecting to arrive on the other in a few hours at the most. Just like with Gilligan, this should be no more than a three-hour cruise. 

Jesus, who may be weary from teaching and preaching, decides to take a nap. He’ll let those seasoned boaters take him across the waters. Then the storm hits. 

Sleeping through the storm

And Jesus sleeps soundly in the stern of the boat.

I’m sure Jesus sleeping irritated the disciples; after all, he suggested they all sail to the other side. And as they work to bail out the water, Jesus snores. 

It appears they wake Jesus, not because they think he can help, but because they want him to know that they’re all doomed. Interestingly, Jesus gets up and rebukes the wind and the waves. Rebuke implies dealing with evil, and perhaps the storm was another of Satan’s attempts to do away with Jesus.[4] But Jesus’ words contain power. 

Two questions

The storm dies and the boat floats on calm water, no longer in danger of capsizing. Then Jesus turns to the disciples and asks, “Where is your faith?” How do they answer such a question?  We’re not told they did; instead, they ponder “just who is this guy that commands the wind and the sea, and they obey.” 

While Jesus’ question reminds the disciples that they, like us, need to trust him, I think the disciples ask a more interesting question. “Who is Jesus?” It’s essentially the same question we saw asked a few weeks ago when Jesus forgave the sinful woman. Those at the table asked, “Who is this that can forgive sin?”[5] Neither question is answered. As James Edwards summarizes in his commentary on this text: “The right questions lead not to pat and ready answers, but to awe and wonder in the presence of Jesus.”[6]

The Edmund Fitzgerald

The ballad, “the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” has a haunting question. “Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes into hours. The disciples didn’t realize at this point in their ministry with Jesus that God was with them, in the stern. 

What does faith mean at times like this

What does it mean to have faith during a storm? Does it mean that everything will be okay? Or are we left with the assurance that we are in God’s hands? And we can trust that no matter what happens, God is with us?

The Troubles of the world

It appears the church, our nation, and our world is sailing into stormy waters. The war in Ukraine causes untold amounts of devastation to that country while threatening the world’s food supply. In places like Ethiopia, you have war and famine. Religious unrest seems always to be simmering somewhere in the world, most lately in India and Sri Lanka. We seem to encounter one disease after another, from COVID variants to Monkeypox to the deadly Ebola virus which keeps popping up in sub-Sahara Africa. The distrust between the political parties in our own country, in which both seem more interested in their own power than the good of the whole, destroys the ability of working together. 

Who do we trust?

As the storm clouds darken, who do we trust? That’s a question we all may be asking. And if not, we will be asking it. Do we look for a savior among politicians and diplomats and business leaders? Or do we look to the only Savior the world has known?

Back in the 90s, when people still used phone books, a group of churches in Cedar City, Utah, where I was pastor, created an ad that appeared on the back cover of Southern Utah University’s student and faculty directory. We got permission from the Jesus Film folks to use a still shot from that movie which depicted Jesus standing up in a boat during a gale and raising up his hands to calm the wind and sea. The caption read, “he calmed the sea, let him calm your hearts,” and then listed the churches who sponsored the ad. 

Jesus calmed the seas, let him calm your hearts. I think that’s still good advice for today’s world. Amen. 

[1] https://www.newsweek.com/pastor-gay-people-solution-killings-bible-1714037

[2] James R. Edwards, From Christ to Christianity: How the Jesus Movement Became the Church in Less than a Century (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2021), 232. Edwards quotes Ignatius’ To the Magnesians, 4.

[3] https://www.songlyrics.com/gilligan-s-island/gilligans-theme-song-lyrics/

[4] Fred B. Craddock, Luke: Interpretation, A Biblical Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1990), 114. 

[5][5] Luke 7:49.  See https://fromarockyhillside.com/2022/06/all-are-in-need-of-forgiveness-the-seemingly-righteous-and-the-obvious-sinner/  

[6] James R. Edwards, The Gospel According to Luke (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2015), 247.

5:45 AM this morning

Catching Up: A Theology Conference and some sailing

This month I’ve been involved with academic travels through the Southeast, intersperse with family and fun activities. I began with a road trip to Hilton Head, where I spent three rainy days as a part of a Theology Matters’ conference held at Providence Presbyterian Church. The church has a massive campus on the south end of the island. Unfortunately, the rain was such that I didn’t even walk from the hotel to the church as I’d done in the past. Thankfully, the last day, the weather cleared long enough for me to take a walk out on the beach. In addition to interesting discussions, it was good to see a number of old friends and to make some new ones.

Providence Presbyterian Church, Hilton Head, SC

The conference, “from Generation to Generation,” looked at how we continue to share the gospel to each new generation. It featured stimulating lectures and as always, I came away with a more books on my to-be-read (TBR) pile.  Below is a brief introduction to the keynote lecturers and their topics:

James Edwards, professor emeritus of theology of Whitworth College in Spokane, Washington gave two of the keynote speeches. I have always enjoyed listening to Dr. Edwards. His commentaries on Mark and Luke are a stable in my library.  He spent much of his time discussing the development of the early church. Edwards hold the view that the concept of God in the early church came from its Jewish roots, not from a marriage between Jewish and Greek thought. Edwards made connection between the early church, existing under the Roman thumb, and the church today. He noted that autocrats are always powerful (and dangerous) during crisis, but that the church is called to be a truthteller in such times.  Interestingly, Edwards has recently written a book on the ministry of Ernst Lohmeyer, who was persecuted by the Nazis and later executed by the Soviets shortly after World War II.  But it was his newest book that made my TBR list: From Christ to Christianity: How the Jesus Movement Became the Christian Church in Less than a Century (Baker 2021). 

Jennifer Powell McNutt, professor of theology at Wheaton College, spoke on the church in exile. Drawing on the current refugee problem along with the refugee issues of the 16th Century, she noted that the refugee crisis impacted the life and work of John Calvin. She also noted how, during the Reformation, being a follower of Jesus could easily lead one into a refugee situation. In Calvin’s commentary on 1st Peter, he reminds us that “children of God are only guest in the world.”  However, even though we are exiles on earth, we are called to engage and be in ministry, as opposed to withdrawing from the world. And part of the church’s calling is to “end the suffering of others.” While she drew heavily from Calvin, she also drew from Theodore Beza, Calvin’s successor, of whom I learned was an accomplished poet. I never knew this about him and will need to learn more. McNutt is author of Calvin Meets Voltaire: The Clergy of Geneva in the Age of Enlightenment, 1685-1798. While it sounds interesting, it is expensive. I did pick up a copy of a book she edited, The People’s Book: The Reformation and the Bible.

Jeffrey Bullock, President of Dubuque Theological Seminary titled his lecture, “7 Observations on Theological Education.” While his jumping off point was the seminary, his observations had more to do with the church at large.  He told of the church where he came to faith in Jesus Christ (his parents weren’t religious) which closed. They didn’t have to close. They still had significant resources, but they were tired. And to the very end, there was someone taking minutes. We Presbyterians have a way to make sure everything is neat and in order. While maintaining church order, Bullock suggests we have lost the vision. He also had criticism on “too many duds” who come to seminary misfit for ministry and how the church needs competent leadership. Furthermore, he critiqued seminaries for being too much an academy and having no connections with churches. Pastors, while they can gain knowledge in seminary, must be nurtured in the church, according to Bullock. He also believes the “project” of the mainline denomination has come to an end. Once the religion of America became its culture, we lost our identity. 

Richard Ray, former professor and currently chairman of the board for the Presbyterian Heritage Center in Montreat, NC, picked up on the theme of exiles, reminding us that we’re always safer in exile. When things are going well, it’s harder to experience divine power. The Bible invites us into divine power, which is invisible to many because it is revealed in weakness. Quoting Augustine, “our words are not adequate for what is being portrayed but that is the beauty of it all.” The Bible is about miracles. It’s saying, “You want believe what will happen with Jesus.” Our help is not in our abilities but in God’s power, which is the beauty of Scripture. Like others, Ray pointed to the late 1930s when the danger of totalitarianism in the world was high with the rise of fascism and totalitarian communism. From this era, he recommended the novel Darkness at Noon, by Arthur Koetler, which dealt with a Stalinist style government. 

Steve Crocco, recently retired as the librarian at the Yale Divinity School, titled his talk, “Running Toward the Sound of Gunfire. He spoke about how we era now ending a new era after the end of Christendom. Noting that ministry has always been difficult, we now have new challenges that the church has never faced. Quoting Karl Barth’s famous saying that one should preach with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in another, he joked that it was a shame no one asked Barth which newspaper. Today, there are no consensus on which news source to trust. His advice was to focus on the letter to the church in Ephesus in the book of Revelation. There, the church is praised for its truth, but condemned for having lost its first love. The love of Jesus compels the church into the danger. He noted how many in the Nazis era, were too scared to speak out. But there were a few like Bonhoeffer, who “ran back toward the sound of gunfire” when he left his comfortable position in New York to return to Germany as war loomed. Of course, Bonhoeffer the Nazis executed Bonhoeffer. 

The skies began to clear the last day of the conference

After his talk, I had lunch with Steve. It was good to catch up. We hadn’t seen each other in over 30 years. In my first year of seminary, he was hired as a new PhD to be the librarian at Pittsburgh Seminary. We played some ball together, as that first year he lived in a student apartment with his family as he attended the University of Pittsburgh to earn a Master’s in Library Science (a requirement for his job). Steve left Pittsburgh after nearly 10 years. He would go on to serve as head librarian at Princeton Theological Seminary, the Army War College, and then Yale Divinity School.

Joseph Small, retired director for the Office of Theology and Worship of the Presbyterian Church USA, encouraged us to ask the burning question of those in the church, “Is it true?” He went on encourage deep theological thinking while suggesting there are four basic theological questions: 1. Who is God really, 2. Who are we, who am I, 3. What does God have to do with us? And 4. What do we have to do with each other? Then Small cheated a bit and suggested a fifth question, “What am I going to do now?”  Small encouraged us to read at least one significant theological book a month and to read it in a community of others with whom you could discuss our reading. His book recommendation was Douglas John Hall’s Lighten Our Darkness

Todd Billings teaches Historical Theology at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan. Unfortunately, at the last minute, his doctors encouraged him not to travel as he has been struggling with terminal cancer. So, he sent a recorded his talk titled, “A Surprising Hope: Bearing Wounds.” Billings first focused on the pandemic. He lamented how our culture trains us to deal with emergencies by finding someone else to blame (we act as if our ideological opponents are always wrong). In too many ways, our public dialogue is much like the pharisee in Matthew 18, who gives thanks in his prayers that he’s not like others. But Jesus was critical of this pharisee. Instead, new need to present a genuine faithfulness to the world, one that shows we serve a God who can bring water into the desert. He notes how Paul refers to our body as a temple. We need to remember that the temple does not make God active, but thinking of our body as a temple reminds us that we do not belong to ourselves. Furthermore, no temple is holy. Only the God who resides there is holy. If we think we are holy, we will be disappointed and not have a hope with which we can pass on to a new generation.  Billings’ memoir (of him and his family struggling with cancer and his mortal limits) is titled The End of Christian Life. It has jumped to the top of my TBR pile.  

At the helm

After three days on Hilton Head, I drove down to Savannah with the plans to sail on Friday and Saturday. Sadly, Friday brought too little wind and way too much rain. But I did get a long sail in on a J24 with some friends from the Landings Sail Club on Saturday morning and early afternoon. Then, I drove to Wilmington, NC and spent a couple of nights with my father, before heading back to the mountains. 

Sailing: The Low Country Hook Ocean Race

Grand Cru approaching the mark just ahead of us

The finish was exciting. An offshore breeze was blowing steadily toward the land and many of the boats still in the race were all convening on the R2W buoy two miles off Wassaw Island at the same time. There was only one boat left in our class, Todd’s Grand Cru.  While we had opted to stay further offshore in the hope of finding wind, Todd and crew hugged the shore. So, the end of the race had us approaching the mark on a reach, while Todd, who had to tack back toward the mark, was close-hauled, a sail position that gave him more speed. However, he also had more distance to cover. We’d thought we were easily going to make the mark first, but as we both moved closer to the mark, we could tell that Todd was really moving. We checked the sail trim and did everything possible to increase speed, but they beat us, rounding the mark a couple boat lengths ahead. But it didn’t matter. We still won when they factored in the boat’s handicap. Grand Cru is a 33-foot boat and has a much higher handicap than our 24 foot boat. He’d have to finished 20 minutes before us to have won the race.

We crossed the mark at 6:02 PM. It had been a long day and we still had seven miles to go to reach the marina. That was where the final mark was supposed to be but since there had been so little wind and race rules stated that everyone had to finish by 7 PM, which would have meant that no one would have finished, the shortened the race late in the afternoon. The race committee had even headed end, leaving each boat with the instructions to cross the buoy to starboard, turn north and when you pass the buoy, to call in the time. Most of the spinnaker boats (we sailed in the non-spinnaker class) still in the race finished around the same time.  None of the cruising class boats finished the race, all having opted to abort earlier in the afternoon.

Steve setting a course with Doug P at the helm as we sail to Hilton Head

Our race weekend started on Friday, when Doug P., Steve and I took our boat, Bonnie Blue, out to sea and up to Hilton Head’s Harbour Town. We left Landings Harbor Marina at 9:45 AM. The forecast called for light wind and we were thinking we might have to motor most of the way up, but as we got the boat out of the marina, the winds picked up and we were able to sail on a reach (wind coming off the beam or 90 degrees to the boat’s direction), without ever changing tack, all the way out of the Wilmington River and Wassaw Sound. Once we were in the ocean, the winds continue from behind, allowing us to run wing-to-wing (the mainsail and the jib on opposite sides of the boat to catch the wind from behind) all the way north, pass Little Tybee and Tybee Island while sailing down waves that were moving favorably in our direction. Once we crossed the shipping channel to the Savannah Ports, we turned inland toward Daufuskie Island (the setting for Pat Conroy’s memoir, The Water is Wide), sailing across Calibouge Sound until we picked up the channel markers that led us behind Hilton Head Island. The wind died about the time we made it behind Hilton Head and, for the first time since motoring out of the harbor, we engaged the motor and found our slip at the Harbour Town marina.  On Hilton Head, the fourth member of our team, Doug B, who’d been spending a few days with his family on Hilton Head, met us and drove us back to Skidaway.

Leaving Harbour Town

Saturday morning began early as we all gathered before daybreak to drive back up to Hilton Head. The sun was rising as we crossed over the Savannah River bridge. By 8:30 AM, we had the boat ready and motored out to the start line between Daufaskie and Hilton Head. The first class, the cruisers, were to begin at 10 AM.  By then, all boats were in the area and they began the countdown sequence. The tide was running in, strong, and what winds there were came from behind, make it a downwind start (you generally start upwind, as you can make faster speeds).

Cruiser class approaching the mark

At four minutes before the starts, all the boat were required to kill their motors. They did, then then wind died, and the cruisers (there were only three) were pulled further and further from the starting line.  A minute before the start, they cancelled and waited a few minutes before going again into the six-minute sequence. The same thing happened.  The race chairperson then suggested that the boats motor to out beyond the starting line and let the tied pull them back inside it before the start. On the third attempt, they had a start.  As the cruising boats tend to be slower, they were given ten minutes or so headway before they began the second flight, those of us not racing with spinnakers.

Thankfully, our start went off without a hitch and by 10:45 AM, we were racing, but without a lot of speed. We tried everything, from going wing-on-wing to tacking and running on a reach. It was slow going, but within a few hundred yards of the start line we had passed the cruising class boats.  Soon, the spinnaker class boats started and we were all bobbing around in Calibogue Sound, waiting for a puff to move us a little closer to our destination. It seemed to take forever. We kept looking at the same houses on Daufuskie and the marks in the Savannah River were so far ahead. We watched several container ships make their way out of the harbor and then others make their way into the harbor. Thankfully, without wind, the sky remained gray, reducing the sun and the heat.

a distant ship leaving Savannah

Around noon, we had a short burst of air that allowed us to make our way out of the sound and point eastward, toward the G5 buoy at Tybee Roads. We weren’t making great time, but at least we were moving, which continued until we made the turn south, toward Wassaw Sound. Then the wind died again. It seemed to take forever for us to cross the shipping channel. We had seen many ships in the morning, but thankfully while we were bobbing around in the channel, there were none.  Finally, we reached the port side marks, putting us safely out of the channel and began to make our way south.  Doug B pulled out his fancy binoculars, which allowed us to see well ships that were coming into port, but not strong enough to make out those bathing on Tybee, some two miles to the east. For what seemed to be days, but was only four hours or so, we keep the Tybee Lighthouse directly off our beam. Occasionally, they’d be a puff and we’d make some forward progress (to where the slough that runs between Tybee Island and Little Tybee was parallel to beam), dropping the lighthouse toward our stern. Then the wind would die and we’d drift back. Pretty soon the lighthouse would be off our beam. We talked about all kinds of things, but the only thing I remember being said was by Steve when he announced: “It’s a flat as a millpond out here.”

Waiting on wind (Steve holds boom out to catch every bit of wind while I do the same on the pole on the genoa, Doug B looking at sail shapes while Doug P either is looking at his sail app on his phone or is praying…

The chatter on the radio was slim. Occasionally a boat would announce they were giving up the race. Then, around four, there was some discussion over moving the end of the race to the R2W buoy. Since not everyone was within radio contact, such instructions had to be relayed to those behind us. Then, as it got closer to five, the wind slowly began to build. Tybee lighthouse dropped off our stern and we began to pass Little Tybee. The wind picked up and slowly the miles to the buoy began to drop (which we could measure thanks to navigation apps). By five, the wind filled in and we were quickly making out way toward the mark, which could first be seen as just a dot in the distance and slowly became more visible as we saw Todd’s boat coming toward us off starboard. After a day of bobbing, we finally felt like we were racing.



Heading home (Wassaw to port)

After making the mark, the wind continued as we made our way toward Wassaw Sound. By now, the tide had turned and was coming in, giving us an extra boost. Once we cross the north end of Wassaw, the wind died again. No longer racing, we started our motor and began to putt in, supported by the tide. The inland waters were like a mirror and while we putted, we flaked the mainsail on the boom and secured it with the sail cover. Then we rolled and bagged the geona (foresail or jib) and stowed it away. We got the boat ready so that we when we arrived at the marina, we could tie it up and leave.  It was a bit after 8, when we came into the marina. We tied up and found that the party which had been planned in the grassy area by the marina, but had broken up, had left us some snacks and beers. I enjoyed a bag of chips and a beer. It was dark when I arrived at the marina that morning to carpool to Hilton Head and it was dark when I left the marina to head home.

Next Weekend with more wind (that’s me on the helm with Tito)


This was the first race since the St. Paddy’s Day race on March 14!  While I’ve been sailing, all the other races and regattas had been cancelled due to Covid. The next Saturday was the Wassaw Cup, in which our crew wasn’t able to sail, so I sailed on another boat, with high winds, we were blown away. There’s one more race, at the end of the month, before I move to the mountains.



Boats gathering at the start of the Wassaw Cup

Three Book Reviews (Short Stories, Sailing, and the Environment)

From my recent readings. They’re all different! 

Anjali Sachdeva, All the Names They Used for God (Siegel & Grau, 2018), 257 pages.

This is a collection of short stories and the first book by Ms. Sachdeva. I heard Sachdeva read from her book last summer when I was at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. She held a reading at the Prairie Lights bookstore. I was impressed with her writing and that she’s from Pittsburgh!  I purchased a copy of her book, read a couple of stories and put it down. Almost a year later, I picked the book back up and reread some of the stories along with the others. Each story is a surprise..

The stories are all unique with a bizarre twist. Some are darker, such as Pleiades,” which tells the story of a scientific couple who, in the interest of science, gives birth to seven twin sisters. Then slowly, they all die off.  In “Killer of Kings,” she tells the story of an aged John Milton as he writes Paradise Lost. While this is the only historical character in the stories, even this story has a twist with an angel sent as a muse and scribe for the blind poet. Some stories seem more normal, like “Logging Lake”, where couple set out hiking in Glacier National Park. But she disappears, leaving everything behind. Did she run off with the wolves? “Robert Greenman and the Mermaid” tells the parallel story of a mermaid who is drawn to a shark while she lures fishermen. The details of the commercial fishing shows Sachdeva’s research into the stories. Another story, “Manus,” is a dystopian world controlled by aliens. The story that provides the title of the book, “All the Names for God,” recreates the lives of the girls in Nigeria who were kidnapped by Islamic terrorist and, because of their special powers, are able to exact revenge.  While all the stories have twists, they’re all different, but a delight to read and leaves the reader with something to ponder.



John Vigor, Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Started Sailing, (Dobbs Ferry, NY: Sheridan House, 2005), 187 pages.

Maybe I should have read this book ten years ago. Instead, when I started sailing, I picked up a copy of John Rousmaniere, The Annapolis Book of Seamanship, which is very serious and covers a little of everything. Since then I picked up a few other books that deal with sail shape and racing techniques, which I can only take in small chunks at a time (or I can read them and quickly fall asleep). But this book was fun to read. It’s sort of a dictionary to random things about sailing. Each entry, which appear alphabetically (there are approximately 200 of them), covers different topics. By drawing from a variety of entries, one learns incredible things. Like the chance of a boat being hit by lightning is 6 in 1,000 (according to the insurance industry). But you’ll probably not be hurt, but you might if you’re hugging the mast or holding on to a wire shroud. But it’s more likely that lightning will blow out your electronics. However, occasionally it’s been known to blow a hole through the boat in which case you’re really screwed because a 2 inch hole a foot underwater will allow 4000 gallons of water an hour to seep into your boat (and what self-respecting lightning bolt only blows a two inch hole into anything). But 4000 gallons of water an hour is about a 1000 gallons more water than a good bilge pump can remove, so you’ll be playing a losing game. But that doesn’t matter because with your electronics fried, your bilge pump won’t work. This led me to look at his recommendations for life jackets (or PFDs, and there’s no entry for what is essentially an important piece of equipment when you have a two inch hole in the hull). There is, however, an entry for life rafts. The author basically says they’re worthless.  Despite this, there’s some good information in this book and it’s conveyed in a humorous manner.

Just in case you wanted to know, there are also some formulas that are obviously provided as a way to make celestial navigation seem easy. To determine how much water will be flooding into a boat, one only has to take the diameter (in inches) times the square root of the height the water must rise to equal the outside water level (or how far below the water level the hole is). By the time you’ve done this calculation, you’re probably no longer breathing air. Another helpful formula predicts the resistance of a given boat to capsizing. All you have to do is to divide your boats displacement (in pounds) by 64, find the cube root of that number. Take the beam (in feet and tenths of a foot) and divided it by the cube root above. If your answer is less than 2 you boat is relatively safe from capsizing. It would be advisable to do these calculations before you sail into a rogue wave, and regardless of your boat’s number on the capsizing scale, you might want to put on your PFD while the wave is still on the horizon. Remember the Poseidon Adventure!

Of course, don’t think this is a technical book. The author also discusses luck and suggest that the most valuable instrument in sailing around the world is a depth finder. And there is ideas for a “boat renaming” ceremony to placate the ocean gods.


Alice Outwater, Wild at Heart: America’s Turbulent Relationship with Nature, from Exploitation to Redemption, read by Joyce Bean (2019), 9 hours 31 minutes

Outwater has written a history of America’s relationship with nature, and how we have moved from seeing nature something to be conquered and tamed, to something with value to be preserved. She begins by discussing how several Native American tribes approached nature. The Hopi saw themselves as guardians of nature. The Abenaki sought balance with nature. And the Chinook gave thanks. I was beginning to think she was going back to an idea that we just had to go back to how the tribes lived, but that was not her purpose. Instead, she sat out the beginning of our thoughts about the environment. Then she moves on to discuss the idea of the “commons.” What isn’t owned by an individual, but is seen as owned by everyone and about to be exploited. At one time, land was seen in this way, until it was “claimed” and “used.” The air and the water, until more recently, was seen this way, which led to people dumping all kinds of stuff into his “common” space. But over time, we realized how it is all interrelated.

I found it interesting how the pollution of our rivers began as an attempt to “clean up” urban areas as we tried to get sewage out of the streets. Treatment centers came about relatively recently and have resulted in much cleaner rivers. The same is true for air.

I had a sense that she was attempting to make a political wake-up call for Republicans. From Teddy Roosevelt, to Nixon, Reagan, and the first Bush, she lifted up achievements in how they have worked toward or approved attempts to save wilderness, to clean water and air, to reduce acid rain and save the ozone layer, all which have been somewhat successful. But the danger of rolling back such gains for short term profits, as she has more recently seen, is problematic. Instead of being a doom-day prophet, she calls for rational approaches to the use of resources. She sees the removal of dams, the attempts to rebuild species that have been nearly wiped out by hunting or habitat loss, as positive signs that we can move quickly to address climate change.

This is a good book to understand how our views of nature has shifted over the years. I listened to the Audible version of this book.