I walked through the woods

On a cloudy November day.

I stopped to pick up an acorn

And put it in my pocket to take home.

Such great potential in a tiny vessel.

I carried a large oak home that day;

But I did not struggle with the weight of it.

I hardly thought any more of it.

The next day I planted that seed.

In a secluded corner of the backyard.

I waited patiently over the years

And was rewarded with much shade.

But one day many years later

I walked through those same woods as before

It was then I realized the absence of an oak tree,

And guilt lay heavy on me for my theft.

Music, Mirth, and Merry Memories

I find myself

Longing for

A time before

When all was well.

In former days

Wannabe rock star

Now watching from afar

I’d rather play.

Feeling past prime

Dreams fading

Energy spent wading

Running out of time.

On the edge

A country divided

Wrongs not righted

Out on the ledge.

Thrills expired

Duty binds

Smiles to sighs

Problems mired.

A time machine

Back to the nineties

Sweet memories

But already seen.

Searching in the Night

By Wesley Provine

March 2005

Awake in the night,

And countin’ the sheep

Ain’t bringin’ the sleep;

So he goes for a drive.

He wonders if he’ll find—

What he’s been looking for,

Or is more pain in store?

He’s seeking the answer tonight.

He’s been left behind;

He’s shut outside.

He’s losing his mind—

It’s another hopeless night.

He’s driving in the night,

Down that old empty road.

Thoughts and feelings overflow,

He’s searching in the night.

He knows futility well;

Will tomorrow be the same?

Will he still bear his shame?

No one can tell.

He’s tryin’ to escape—

This frustration he feels;

It’s all too real,

And he hates the wait.

If You Love America, Vote Trump

This election could be a watershed moment in American history. Stark choices are set before us: freedom versus socialism, the rule of law versus mob-fueled chaos, a Christian worldview versus godless ideologies, and a strong America versus a vastly diminished one. If you love America, you must vote for Trump on November 3.

The Biden-Harris agenda is one of the most radical we’ve seen in this country’s history. Remember the riots, looting, and violence earlier this year in places like Portland, New York City, Seattle, and Minneapolis? All of those cities had Democratic mayors. That is a microcosm of what all of America will look like if Biden is elected.

The Trump-Pence ticket, on the other hand, supports law and order, religious freedom, economic prosperity, and a strong stance against China. While Biden and the Democrats want to shut the country down, Trump and the Republicans want our country to get back to the America we once knew before radical leftists took over.

Trump and the Republicans represent common sense in the midst of the Democrats’ ocean of chaos and insanity. The Democrats want to rewrite our history. They see America as fundamentally flawed and racist. In contrast, Trump and the Republicans foster pride in our heritage and country. They see America for what it is—the land of opportunity.

Biden and the Democrats want to push godless ideologies on you and punish you if you refuse to comply. Trump and the Republicans believe in the Constitution, freedom, and personal responsibility. They recognize that our freedoms are a gift from God, and that our nation was founded on Christian principles and made for a virtuous people.

So if you love America and what it stands for, then you must vote for Donald Trump and Mike Pence on Election Day. It’s the only rational choice to prevent the end of America as we know it.

Kings and Pawns

By Wesley Provine, 2005

Emperors and fools,

Kings and Pawns.

You show no mercy,

And break all the rules.

You love to be,

The Master of Manipulation.

You’re not content,

Unless you rule the nation.

You treat life as a game,

And oppress the weak .

You mock the ignorant,

And crush them beneath.

What would you do,

If you couldn’t control?

Power and wealth

Kill your soul.

In the end,

You’ll be hated,

The manipulator

Becomes the manipulated.

Ten Prerequisites for Effective Prayer

I get the sense that some Christians feel defeated in their prayer lives. Perhaps the problem is that it seems as though their prayers are going unanswered. Few things will discourage one more than the sense that their prayers are not getting beyond the ceiling. Conversely, nothing will revitalize your prayer life like receiving definite answers to your petitions. What Christians need to realize is that there are principles laid out in the Bible for effective prayer. The Word of God shows us the right way to pray, and it also alerts us of pitfalls that we should avoid. If your prayers seem hindered, it might be due to a failure to follow these ten Scriptural guidelines in prayer:

1. Humility

The starting place for prayer should be humility. When we get on our knees to pray, we are humbling ourselves before the Almighty God to acknowledge our utter dependence upon Him. The world tells us to rely upon our own wisdom and strength; the Bible tells us that without Christ, we can do nothing.

In Luke 18:9-14, Jesus tells the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican (or Tax Collector) to people who trusted in themselves. Two men went to the Temple to pray. The Pharisee prayed a proud, self-righteous prayer in which he looked down upon the tax collector. The humble tax collector couldn’t even raise his eyes to heaven. He prayed sincerely and humbly, “God, be merciful to me a sinner.” Jesus concluded the parable by saying that the tax collector “went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

2. Faith

In Matthew 9:28, Jesus asks two blind men if they believe that He is able to restore their sight, and they reply in the affirmative. Then in verse 29, Jesus touches their eyes, and says, “According to your faith be it unto you.” Then their eyes were opened.

Faith moves mountains, and it also moves the heart and hand of God. It opens our eyes and allows us to see Jesus. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). In Mark 11:24, Jesus says, “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” He clearly links faith and prayer in this verse.

It follows then that unbelief can limit the effectiveness of our prayers. In Matthew 13:58, we learn that Jesus did not do many mighty works in his hometown of Nazareth because of the unbelief of the people there. How sad that the people who should have known Jesus the best, seemed to believe in Him the least!

3. Confession of sins

Psalm 66:18 says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” The NIV translates the word for regard as cherished. So if we cherish sin in our hearts, instead of confessing and forsaking it, the Lord will not hear our prayers.

The encouraging news is that 1 John 1:9 tells us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” In the mnemonic prayer acronym ACTS, C stands for Confession (A for Adoration; T for Thanksgiving; and S for Supplication). Confession should be an essential part of our prayer life. It restores power to our prayers.

4. Forgiveness

If we want God to hear and answer our prayers, we must forgive others. Few things will sap the vitality out of your prayer life like bitterness. Immediately after the verse mentioned above when Jesus was talking about faith and prayer, He says the following in Mark 11:25-26 (NKJV):

““And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.””

Jesus says something very similar to this in Matthew 6:14-15 after the Lord’s Prayer (or Model Prayer). In fact, in the Lord’s prayer, Jesus seems to link the forgiveness we receive from God with the forgiveness we give to others: “And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.” (Matt 6:12 NKJV) We should be as ready to forgive others as God is to forgive us.

5. Correct Motives

If you pray for a Ferrari, don’t be surprised if God does not answer. We need to examine our motives in our prayers. God supplies our needs, but He is not obligated to give us our selfish desires, especially when it might be harmful to ourselves or others. It’s been said that some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers. God knows far better than we do what is best for us. James reminds us, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” (James 4:3 NKJV) Jesus set the example for us with his selfless prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Not as I will, but as You will.”

6. Persistence

In Luke 18:1-8, Jesus tells us the Parable of the Unjust Judge or the Persistent Widow that “men always ought to pray and not lose heart.” A judge who did not fear God granted a widow’s persistent request for justice against her adversary because he wearied of her requests. How much more will God answer his children they cry out to Him day and night, since He loves and cares for them! So don’t give up after praying for something one time. Be persistent in your prayers, especially if you know that what you are asking for is something within God’s will. Your persistence is a sign of faith. Remember that Jacob wrestled with the angel all night long before he was blessed.

7. In Jesus’ Name

In John 14:13-14, Jesus says, “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” This is not so much a formula as an acknowledgement of faith in the mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ. We have access to God because of what Christ has done (Hebrews 4:14-16). We are also ambassadors for Christ and we do his work here on Earth. When we ask for something in his name, we are asking for it on his authority. The power rests in his name. And as Jesus said in the above verses, the Father is glorified in the Son when we pray in Jesus’ name.

8. Proper Treatment of Spouse

In 1 Peter 3:7, we learn that mistreatment of our spouse can negatively affect our prayers: “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” We can’t worship God and then treat people, especially our family, in a bad manner. Our relationship with God affects our relationship with others, and vice versa.

9. Consideration for the Poor

Proverbs 21:13 warns us that, “Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard.” How we treat the indigent and destitute can affect our prayers. One of the Beatitudes says, “Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.” (Matthew‬ ‭5:7‬ ‭NKJV‬‬) If we want God to hear our cries, then we need to listen to the cries of others. Lord, give us a heart of mercy.

10. Gratitude

In Luke 17:11-19, ten lepers were healed by Jesus on the way to see the priest, but only one, a Samaritan, returned to thank him. How many times does God answer our prayers and we forget to thank him? We need to come to God with a thankful heart so that we appreciate all that he has done for us in the past. Gratitude will also give us a better perspective so that we know what to pray for.


My intention in writing this article is not to make a checklist that you have to go through before you can pray, but rather I intend it as a guide that can help you identify problem areas in your prayer life. As you look over these ten principles, you can get an overall picture of the proper heart attitude that is necessary for an effective prayer life. It’s important that we base these principles of prayer upon the Bible. This list is not exhaustive. You may find other principles in the Bible that help you in your prayer life, but these are basic principles that should help get you started. I pray that this list is a blessing to you.

Silent Watchdogs

His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.

Isaiah 56:10 KJV

Why are many Christian leaders not speaking to the important issues in our society? At a time when there are so many pressing matters such as the rioting and violence in our streets, attacks on our police, cultural marxism, homosexuality, pervasive pornography, and the exploitation of children, many pulpits have gone silent. Yet it is imperative that God’s people hear what the Word of God says about the issues of the day.

The main role of a watchdog is to warn of danger. Yet the watchdogs are strangely silent these days. For example, take the denomination I’m currently in, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). SBC leaders in large part have been afraid to speak out on a myriad of issues. And when they do, it’s often for left-wing causes that are currently en vogue.

Leaders like SBC President JD Greear and Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore rarely speak out in support of our brave police officers, even when they are attacked. They’ve also said very little about the innocent victims of riots and anarchy in cities like Minneapolis, Portland, New York City, Seattle, Chicago, and Kenosha. In fact, it seems they often slam America and side with the bad guys.

Despite the LGBT takeover of our society, they rarely speak Biblical truth about homosexuality. In fact, JD Greear gave a terrible sermon in January in which he minimized that sin by implying that God whispers about it.

So why the silence on the issues du jour? Could it be that these leaders see themselves as academic and cultural elites with much prestige and they don’t want to lose their acceptance in the club? Instead of seeking to be faithful to the truth, they seek popularity and the praises of men.

Leaders like Russell Moore will often criticize conservatives for their “tone.” Basically, Moore gets triggered when anyone speaks the truth on cultural issues. Frankly, we are tired of being made out to be the bad guys for speaking the truth while our leaders remain silent in order to evade criticism or retribution.

Many of us feel ignored and disrespected. We’ve talked to our leaders. Sometimes they won’t even respond. And when they do respond, it’s often difficult to get a straight answer. Moore, for example, is known for his word salad answers in response to questions by messengers at the SBC annual meeting.

The silence from Christian leaders on issues that matter is not without consequences. It has led to a lack of discernment amongst God’s people. Many Christians have gotten sucked into unbiblical organizations and activities. Take Black Lives Matter (BLM), for example. It’s a Marxist organization with anti-Christian, anti-capitalist, and anti-family beliefs. Yet how many Christians have you seen or heard supporting BLM? I’ve seen several. Could that be because their pastor has not spoken to the issue and let his congregation know that this is an organization that they should not be a part of? The silence of the watchdogs have led to the lies of the Left being accepted in churches all across America.

Jesus said in John 8:32, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Solomon said in Proverbs 23:23, “Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.” And the Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 4:15 that we should be “speaking the truth in love.”

Why then do our Christian leaders seem to have so little regard for the truth that they are afraid to speak it, but instead prefer the praises of men?

The watchdogs have failed us. They have not barked to alert us to danger. They have preached a popular message instead of a prophetic one.

It is now incumbent upon us to be our own watchdogs. We must know the Word of God ourselves. We can’t depend upon others to speak it to us.

The prophet Amos said, “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord GOD, “That I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine of bread, Nor a thirst for water, But of hearing the words of the LORD.” People are hungry for the Word of God. The sad thing is that it is readily available to those who would seek for it. But we need the shepherds to be willing to speak it to their flocks. When they fail to do so, the flock is tempted to think that the truth is not important.

An Independence Day Message

As the Fourth of July nears, I want to record some things which have been on my heart and mind. First of all, let me say that I love America, and I feel so grateful that I was allowed to be born here. I grew up during the Reagan Era. It was a time of prosperity and patriotism. It was also a time of the Moral Majority. We didn’t have gay marriage, the World Wide Web, widespread use of cell phones (they were in their infancy), social media (Thank God), and radical division in our politics. Republicans and Democrats disagreed on plenty of things, but half the country didn’t hate the other half. People didn’t go around tearing down statues or being offended by everything. We were taught to love America in school. We sang America (My Country ‘Tis of Thee) and said the Pledge of Allegiance each morning.

Our parents took us to church and Sunday School. We learned about Jesus, the Gospel, and the Bible. We called upon Jesus for forgiveness and were saved from our sins. Then we got baptized and joined the church.

We went over to our grandparents’ house, enjoyed time with family, ate home-cooked meals, and played wiffle-ball in the backyard. We rode our bikes all over the neighborhood, collected baseball cards, and slept over at our friends’ houses.

We enjoyed sports and movies because they weren’t political. Players didn’t kneel for the National Anthem. Players talked about how hard they worked, not how entitled they were. Everyone wanted a pair of Air Jordan shoes. Donald Trump was a well-known millionaire and businessman, liked by Democrats as well as Republicans.

There was an atmosphere of unity, brotherhood, and common identity. Everyone seemed proud to be an American. In times of tragedy, the country came together instead of pointing fingers at each other. Everyone was rooting for America to succeed.

Companies weren’t woke. You didn’t have to worry about your choice of a restaurant being a test of political loyalty. Parents could let their children watch Saturday morning cartoons without fear of indoctrination. And transgenderism wasn’t really a thing. We called people who dressed up as the opposite gender, transvestites, and we thought that was a strange thing to do.

There was no Black Lives Matter organization (with Marxist principles), violent mobs in the streets, or Critical Race Theory (it was just beginning to be formulated at elite universities). Identity politics had not yet taken over. We just viewed each other as Americans.

The bottom line is that it was a wonderful time to grow up. Life was good. So many of the negatives of our present day were not around. Optimism was prevalent.

So it grieves and saddens me to see the state of our country now. I’ve watched with horror the riots, violence, and looting that has taken place over the last few weeks. Law and order broke down. Police officers were killed, injured, and disrespected. Innocent people were beaten in the streets for no reason. Mobs of “protestors” attacked cars driving along the road. Left-wing mayors refused to restore the rule of law. Instead of supporting law-abiding citizens, they chose to side with the mob.

As someone who loves history, I was appalled to see historic statues toppled because I knew that it was an attack on the very history and heritage of the United States of America. And it was not limited to Confederate statues. Even Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt came under suspicion.

My wife and I have been blessed the last few years to see some of the landmarks of our great country like Mount Rushmore, the Lincoln Memorial, the Statue of Liberty, and Independence Hall. Seeing these structures in person has only made me love America more. I’m grateful to God that we got to see them when we did since we don’t know if they will be torn down in the future. I sure hope they will remain for my kids to see them.

Perhaps the most discouraging aspect of the last few weeks was to see people whom I knew going along with the ideology of the woke mob. I expected that the liberal newspapers and news stations would support such madness. I did not expect to see churches, fellow Christians, and Republican leaders promoting the insanity.

I was watching the original Magnum, P.I. television show the other night, and it brought back memories of better days. It was a nice escape for an hour. I thought to myself, “Oh, yeah, this was back when everyone didn’t hate each other, and the country hadn’t gone crazy. We could enjoy life and not have to worry about violence in the streets. We were free to speak our mind without fear of reprisal.”

So at times like these, what is the answer for our nation? First and foremost, we need revival. Our country has strayed from God. We as a country have embraced sin and wickedness. Sadly, I don’t even hear many calls for repentance in churches and Christian circles. We need to get on our knees, humble ourselves, repent, and call out to God for mercy and revival (see 2 Chronicles 7:14). We need to also be prepared for the Return of Christ. No man knows the day or hour, but with the way the world is going, it seems like it could be very soon.

We need to teach our children our Christian and conservative values. We should read the Bible and share the Good News of Jesus Christ with them. We need to teach them about our American history and heritage, and not the Howard Zinn version. We need to tell them about the Pilgrims, the Great Awakening, and George Washington.

On this Fourth of July, we should teach our children about The Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. We should instill in them a love of America and freedom. We should warn them against the evils of atheism, materialism, Marxism, and Communism.

We should demand that our Republican leaders fight for us to help preserve things like law and order and our American history. We should oppose efforts to eradicate or replace Columbus Day. We must not fall for the lies of the Left. Columbus is a central figure to Western Civilization. If he is toppled, the rest of our forefathers may fall like dominos.

We need to quit being deceived by the lies in the media, academia, and even in some religious institutions. We need to reject critical race theory, identity politics, marxism, and modern day liberalism. We need to stand for life (that includes the unborn), liberty (that includes for all races), so that we may be able to pursue happiness.

Finally, we need to have courage. One of the most disheartening things of the last few weeks has been to see our leaders, people who should be fighting for us, cave to the mob because they lack courage. I’m convinced that if more law-abiding citizens would have the courage to speak up and take a stand for what is right and for common sense, we wouldn’t be in this horrible situation. We must NOT be silent anymore.

So I want to wish you and your family a Happy Independence Day. Enjoy the day with loved ones. Have a cookout. Set off fireworks. But remember why we celebrate—it is the 244th anniversary of the adoption of The Declaration of Independence. Remember that we are supposed to be a free nation. And think about what we can do as citizens to reclaim that freedom and to rediscover our history.

The Supermarket

Jessica Franklin, a 38-year-old brunette, whose youthful beauty had somewhat faded, walked into Harvest Foods one evening in late Fall. As was her custom, she got a basket, and headed toward the produce section. After getting the fruit that she needed, she strolled the aisles, procuring the various items on her shopping list.

When she reached aisle 12, she saw someone from her past—someone whom she had not expected to see. It was Rick, her high-school sweetheart. She had broken up with him near the end of their senior year, just before graduation. At the time he was crushed. She was rather cold and callous about it, saying all manner of cruel things to him. She immediately began dating his best friend after the break-up. Rick had been so wounded that he didn’t even bother showing up to the graduation ceremony because he couldn’t bear to see the two of them together. Jessica then left for college and never saw Rick again, until now—20 years later.

“Rick! Hey, how are you?” Jessica called out as she approached her former beau.

He looked at her puzzlingly and replied, “Do I know you?”

“It’s me, Jessica. Now, I haven’t changed that much. Listen, I, uh, I just want to apologize for how things ended. You’re probably upset with me,” she stammered.

The man interrupted her, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. You must have the wrong person,” he protested.

“From high school! We dated each other. Remember?! We were sweethearts,” Jessica pleaded rather desperately.

“Look, lady. I don’t know who you are. I didn’t date any Jessica. I’ve got to go,” said the man abruptly.

“Rick, wait!” Jessica yelled as the man walked away. She felt humiliated and rejected. She couldn’t understand why he had acted like he didn’t remember her.

The cold shoulder Rick had just given Jessica reminded her of another time that he was upset with her. Back in high-school, she used to steal beauty products from the local grocery store—things like make-up, shampoo, and hair spray. She would stick them in her purse. Rick was with her one of those times, and he got extremely upset. He had made a scene, and she was afraid that she was going to get caught. She had never seen him so irate.

Her mind also flashed back to her pregnancy in high-school. It was Rick’s child. He wanted to have the baby, but Jessica got cold feet, and went to the clinic to have an abortion. Rick was devastated when he found out.

Jessica tried to get those horrible memories out of her head, and she continued her shopping. She looked down at her list and saw that she still needed to get some shampoo. The personal hygiene and beauty products were on the next aisle over. As she rounded the corner to the beauty aisle, she immediately noticed something strange. They were out of all the products that she had on her list. No shampoo. No make-up. No hair spray. They had everything else like toothpaste and deodorant. But there were empty spots on the shelves where the things that she needed usually were.

“Very strange,” she thought to herself. Jessica saw an employee stocking the razors, so she went over to him. “Are you all out of shampoo? And hair-spray?” she asked the stocker.

The man replied, “Yes, it’s rather strange. Earlier this afternoon we had a woman come in. She took all those items off the shelf and threw them in her basket and raced out the door without paying for any of it. She got away before we could catch her. We get another shipment in a couple of days. You might check back then.”

This was quickly becoming a frustrating excursion to the supermarket for Jessica. She just had a few more items on her list and then she was ready to go home. She headed toward the frozen and refrigerated sections. She needed some frozen dinners, milk and eggs.

Once she got the remaining items on her list, she headed to the checkout lanes. She found one without a long line. The conveyor belt in front of her opened up as the lady ahead of her prepared to pay. Jessica began to unload the items in her cart onto the belt. She hoped nothing else would happen out of the ordinary, but she had an uneasy feeling.

Once the cashier had rang it all up, she paid for her groceries. The sacker loaded them back into the basket. Then she headed toward the door to escape the weird place.

Just before she was about to exit the sliding doors to go outside, a toddler walked up to her and grabbed her hand and said, “Mommy, why don’t you want me?”

It startled her deeply. “Little guy, I’m sorry, but I’m not your mommy.” But the child just kept repeating the question, “Mommy, why don’t you want me?” It grieved her, and she wanted to run out as fast as she could, but she stuck around to look for the child’s parent.

When Jessica turned around to see if any adult was looking for the child, her eyes met Rick’s again. He was walking toward her. “I’m sorry, ma’am. He’s mine. He got away from me,” he said matter-of-factly.

“Rick, you still don’t remember me?” Jessica asked in an exasperated tone.

“No, ma’am. I’m sorry,” the man responded. Then he turned to the child and said, “C’mon, let’s go, Ricky.”

Jessica could take no more, and pushed the cart out the door, except that the sliding doors had closed, and there was only a loud bang of the cart against the metal frame. She kept pushing the basket against the doors, but they wouldn’t open. By now, she had attracted the attention of those around her. As she felt their stares, her face became flushed and she felt like she was going to faint. She was trapped!

“Let me out!” she screamed. She kept forcing the cart against the closed doors to no effect. Eventually, the stress of the situation overwhelmed her, and she fainted and fell to the floor.

When she awoke, Rick was leaning over her. “Jessica, are you okay?” he asked tenderly.

“What happened? You remember me, Rick? You know my name?” Jessica asked in a surprised tone. Everything was strange to her, though. Rick looked years younger, like he did when he was in high school. The child was gone, and both she and Rick were wearing different clothes. And her surroundings looked different. This was a different supermarket.

“Of course I know who you are,” Rick said incredulously. “You weren’t paying attention, and you walked into somebody and bumped heads. It knocked you unconscious,” he explained.

Just then an employee who had been attending to Jessica in order to make sure that she was okay, spotted some items which had fallen out of her purse. They were the items that she had stolen years earlier. The employee looked at Jessica and then looked back at the items. He thought for a moment. “Ma’am, I’ll just pretend I didn’t see this fall out of your purse, and I’ll go put them back on the shelf. I just wanted to make sure that you were okay.”

Jessica nodded her head. Rick was embarrassed and relieved at the same time. Jessica still had no idea what had happened. “Rick, what is going on?” she asked.

“C’mon, Jessica. Let’s go,” Rick said. He helped her up, and they walked out the door. Jessica looked up at the sign in the parking lot. It read Springtime Groceries.

“Rick, I thought we were in Harvest Foods. How did we get back to this place?” she asked.

“Harvest Foods? I’ve never heard of it,” Rick replied. “I guess you hit your head pretty hard. Let’s find the car, and I’ll take you home.”

A Jane Austen Quarantine

(Spoiler Alert)

If you need an escape these days, put a Jane Austen movie in the DVD player. I recently did just that as I watched Pride and Prejudice (2005), Emma (1996), and Sense and Sensibility (1995). Each film was a refreshing and relaxing two-hour respite during this time of quarantine. It may seem strange that a man enjoys these stories, but I’ll give you three reasons why I do.

First, they transport me to a time and place in which manners were held in high regard. That’s not to say that every character is a nice person, but almost everyone shows an appreciation for how one should interact with others in society. Jane Austen’s world was one unlike ours, in which the focus was not merely on the individual, but also on society as a whole. The dances and social functions displayed in the films are elaborate courses on etiquette, governed by tradition and unspoken rules. One can lament the restrictive social class structure, but the respect and honor showed by the participants must be admired. Perhaps the best example of this is when Mr. Knightly chides Emma for her rude behavior toward the poor Miss Bates at a group picnic. The rebuke leaves Emma guilt-stricken, but it eventually helps her to mature and become less selfish. This emphasis on manners can also lead to humorous situations such as in Pride and Prejudice, when Elizabeth refuses Mr. Collins’s proposal, but she must do so in the politest way possible. Considering the current coarseness in our own culture, I find myself tempted to long for Jane Austen’s world of civility.

Second, these movies remind me of the importance of family. I get the sense that feminists are conflicted over Austen’s novels. The stories depict a world in which women are dependent upon marriage for financial security and social standing. On the other hand, some feminists see Austen’s biting irony and critiques of the social customs of her day as evidence that she was one of them. I don’t really want to enter that debate. Regardless of what Austen intended, her novels create a certain nostalgia for her world and her times. It is refreshing to see the home as the center of the society. In each decision, individuals think of their family’s well-being, not just their own. For example, in the movie Emma, the titular protagonist won’t agree to marry Mr. Knightly until he agrees to live at Hartfield—for the sake of Emma’s father. Mr. Knightly gladly agrees. In Pride and Prejudice, the family shares in mutual happiness as Lydia, Jane, and Elizabeth are all married within a short period of time. And in Sense and Sensibility, the rest of the family wait outside gleefully as Elinor is proposed to inside the house. The two sisters, Elinor and Marianne, soon have a joint wedding to share in their bliss.

The third reason I love these movies is that they show us the beauty of nature and rural life. In Sense and Sensibility, when Marianne is running in the rain over the rich, verdant countryside to search for Willoughby, one cannot help to long for such grounds on his own similar estate. And in Emma when the two friends, Emma and Harriet, are outside under a tent doing needlework, or when Emma is painting a portrait of her friend, Harriet, on a bridge, the viewer is privileged to relish in these dream-like scenes of serenity. Finally, at the end of Pride and Prejudice, when Elizabeth meets Darcy on the moor in the morning sunlight, it is the epitome of early 19th-century romance. It is as though Nature becomes another character in the story. The fact that these movies produce such sentimental responses in the viewer is ironic considering that, in her novels, Austen was poking fun at novels of sensibility and such displays of emotion.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on Jane Austen. I haven’t even read most of her books. I’m currently reading Emma. I appreciate the high-quality of the writing, but I wouldn’t exactly call it a page turner. But I thoroughly enjoy the movies. They are felicity-inducing at a time when most things are not. They are light when the world seems heavy. One doesn’t watch these movies for the plot or the resolution of such, but for the beautiful journey. Would it be stretching credulity to assert that these movies make us kinder, happier, and more grateful? I don’t think so. I’d like to think that’s the effect that they’ve produced in me.