Sunday, January 30, 2022

Video of Last Week's Fall Lines Release..."Unifinished Kaddish" and Much More! 

My "Unfinished Kaddish" starts at 33:25. Many other fine poems/prose works here at the Fall Liens Volumes VII & VIII launch on 1/23/2022, Drayton Hall, U of SC, Columbia SC, from the Jasper Project.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Good for you, Joni Mitchell!

     Joni joined her fellow Canadian Neil Young in pulling music from Spotify due to Joe Rogan's podcast spreading COVID-19 misinformation. 

     In the future, Joe Rogan will not be remembered. Joni and Neil will be.

     I attach links for Neil's and Joni's first albums. Hers is dedicated to an English teacher. How could I not love that?




Wednesday, January 26, 2022

International Holocaust Remembrance Day -27 January 2022

    For this year's International Holocaust Remembrance Day, I offer some poems by Miklos Radnoti and one that I read on Sunday. The date itself commemorates the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau by the Red Army. in 1945.

   The link immediately below gives some biographical information also. 

   My poem Unfinished Kaddish" appears in the Fall Lines Volumes VII/VIII, from the Jasper Project in Columbia, SC.  I wrote it a few years ago as increasing anti-Semitism spread over the world, even in Western democracies The poem was written before the Pittsburgh Squirrel Hill synagogue shootings and the recent hostage-taking in a Texas synagogue. 

   If one group is singled out for hatred, attacks, and extermination, any group can be. 

   Unfinished Kaddish


Cures for cancer and the common cold,

Novels, plays, symphonies and sculptures,

landscapes and portraits, all these

suffocated in boxcars to oblivion,

vanished as smoke from countless crematoria,

staggered on zig-zag forced marches,

a danse macabre through a dying Reich,

blood-stained poems found on the corpse of Radnóti


Don’t ask Bruce about his relatives.

Why doesn’t she remove the tattoo?

Stalin killed more people anyway,

If anyone deserved it, it was them.

No one knew what was going on.

None of it was true, none of it!

It could never happen here.

Voices of the aftermath, like backwash

in the wake of a million ships.


The drumbeat starts again, steady

and strong. Unchanged from before,

panacea for all that goes wrong.

Headstones desecrated, temples

vandalized, lies repeated rapidly

in social media and during

political rallies. Western Civilization’s

dirty little secret surfaces once more

as lies repeated on social media.


Is Aliyah an answer, or an error?

Discussion ranges from Knesset

to condominium, from headlines

to the dinner table. Where does

Eretz Yisrael begin and end?

Regardless, living is defiance to

the lies, half-truths, and scorn.

Living is creating, improving the

world, gladdening the heart.



When hard times came again

like a cold winter’s wind,

angry echoes resounded on

the banks of the Danube and

Elbe, a refrain rising from the

Seine and the Thames. Look,

look to the emptiness of Auschwitz,

the silence of a score of other camps

and reflect on all that was lost.

Should these steps be taken again?


Arthur Turfa, © 2018   Fall Lines,© 2022


Sunday, January 23, 2022

"Unfinished Kaddish" Debuts Today! 

It's today! The debut of my poem and many other examples of good literature!


, a poem about anti-Semitism is still timely. And remember- if one group is attacked, then others can be also attacked. 

Friday, January 21, 2022

Bialys- Frozen, but still Bialys!

    A bialy is not a bagel. Bialys have a bottom and are baked, not boiled then baked, like the better-known bagel. 

    Enough with the alliteration, but it was unavoidable!

    Bialystok is now in the far northeast of Poland, had a large Jewish population, and was switched around between neighboring countries over the years. When I first read Russian short stories, I would come across something like "'What would you like for breakfast,  IvanAlexanderovich?'" "How about a hot roll with onions?'"

   I would scratch my head and read on,. Years later, I found them in Wegman's, a fantastic place to buy groceries, eat, and drop off your dry cleaning. They had some with peppers and even some pizza filling if I remember correctly.

    One last memory: when I served a bilingual English-German parish, someone from the German side actually came from Bialystok. His name was Leonid Schulz, but he went by Leo. During the war, he served on the ground with the Luftwaffe and was taken prisoner in Norway.

Here is the brand I found at Publix in Red Bank (near Lexington), South Carolina.

Have a good nosh!


Saturday, January 15, 2022

So What Did Constantine the Great Do Wrong?


     Recently on the public ELCA  * Evangelical Lutheran Church in America ) Facebook group someone posted about how large churches were pagan and used by Constantine to control Christianity.

     I did a double-take. This was completely unlike anything I have heard or read. Nothing in seminary, nor in my historical studies in grad school. 

     Constantine legalized Christianity in 313 A.D/C.E. That meant Christians could worship openly and operate ministries in public. He himself became a Christian and used the faith as a way to bring unity to the Roman Empire. A long relationship between the State and Christianity began and took various forms over the years in many places.

     Not that  I advocate such a relationship today. I commented on the post, and in a brief exchange, saw that the person who first posted claimed that having such a large public worship space was pagan. I asked how the Jersusalem Temple fit into that thinking. The answer skirted the issue, and I stopped commenting in the thread. 

     I did not check on the person, and I did not claim special privilege as a pastor. It seemed to me that Constantine, in this person's opinion, should not have legalized Christianity. That is another variation on the theme that Christianity was perverted, corrupted later on. And.....whoever tells us this knows THE TRUTH! 

     Constantine also convened the Council of Nicea, which gave the Church a creed. Tha6 group has been bashed by feminists, agnostics, New Agers, et al., which to my thinking gets a little tedious. 

     I need to stay out of groups like this and write more poetry/prose!



Wednesday, January 12, 2022

A Pending Honor......

      One of my several alma maters wants to do a Mini-Profile on me for their alumni magazine. I suspect I know what brought this about, and I am deeply honored. More later when it comes out in the coming weeks.

     A friend was going to nominate me for a distinguished alumnus of our high school; she is a distinguished alumna, and rightly so. I remember filling out some forms, and whether she did not have the time to pursue it, or whether the school recoiled in disgust, I do not know. That does not matter so much to me, although I have fond memories of that place and those days, and keep in touch with many friends.

     All the same, a very nice honor is coming my way, and amidst everything else that is going on, it is nice to know that good things happen. Theologically, I call it grace!

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Mina Loy and Elinor Wylie

     I do not think these two poets/artists ever met, but it would have been interesting. Some time back an online poetry community I belonged to (sadly, it has gone away) had a question about what poet would we like to hang out with.

     A week or so before poem-a-day had one by Wylie. I looked her up, and she seemed very interesting.

   Today there was one from Mina Loy, and I would include her. Like me, she was half-Hungarian! 

She also was an accomplished painter. 

   Both of these women would have been fully accepted in modern times and likely would not have had the scandals attached to them that they did. It was not so much what they did, as the reaction of their societies to what they did.

    Wylie was born into wealth and prominence and did not have outlets for her writing. Loy had a horrible upbringing and had to overcome that. 

    Both knew influential writers/artists, mostly male, and had things been different, their lives would have been easier. I have some links about them and their artistic outputs.

Friday, January 7, 2022

Warning: Political Post on January 6 One Year Later 

     If anyone out there ever wants to ensure that I will have nothing to do with them. merely say that the [andemic is fake and/or that January 6, 2021, was caused by Antifa and that the person who was president then is innocent of any and all wrongdoing.

     For years I shuddered at the mention of or a picture of Dick Cheney. He pulled the strings in the Bush Administration and much more. A year before I deployed myself, I was talked to a physician assistant nearing 60 who was being mobilized. In our conversation, he asked if I ever heard of Halliburton. I stifled a laugh and said that I heard. "They always seem to be ahead of where we go." I complied with the Hatch Act and merely nodded. Wearing the uniform does not allow one to discuss personal political beliefs.

     Since 2016, the American political landscape is changing. It is terrifying to some extent and fascinating in another. In my youth I was a liberal Republican (yes, I am THAT old), but that changed as the GOP lurches to the right. The party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Eisenhower is a political cult dedicated to authoritarianism. Any Republican who supported the insurrection is no friend of Democracy. 

     Liz Cheney has her father's seat in Congress. He came back to the House yesterday. I was- and remain- stunned. Dick and I are in agreement on something? Yes indeed! It is about preserving America we know and love. 

     David Brooks has it right in the latest ATLANTIC. Conservatives need to ally with moderate Democrats for the time being. If the Conservatives want to form their own party, I concur heartily. We need a two-party system. The Republicans began when the Whigs fractured. Now the Republicans have degenerated into a neo-Know-Nothing Party. It is time for Conservatives to start a new party.


Sunday, January 2, 2022

Revisiting Part of My Past By Reading From the Other Side

     When I was in graduate school in German at UC-Berkeley in 1975, I took a course in Luther and was very impressed. While I had Lutheran roots on both sides of my family, I considered myself to be more or less Presbyterian but had not been active for a few years. During that course, I felt an urge to check it out, so I attended the University Lutheran Chapel to check it out. What impressed me was how Lutheranism seemed to preserve the best of the old with the best of the modern.

     Pastor Gus Schultz wore sandals, an alb and chasuble (old) and there was an electric guitarist for music (new). I was hooked. I attended a few more times, then went to the UC-Irvine campus where I had been granted a teaching assistantship. Orange County then was very conservative, and I resolved to find a spiritual home there. I did, but that is another story.

     Two years later I felt the tug to seminary and on Pastor Herb Niermann's suggestion, attended what became Christ Seminary in Exile (Seminex). It was a wonderful place that gave me a thorough theological. pastoral education, a strong spiritual life, and some friendships that endure to this day. In 1979 I realized that its future was in jeopardy. After a long process, I transferred m membership from the Lutheran Chruch-Missouri Synod (LCMS) to the Lutheran Church in America and then went to the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, graduating in 1981 and being ordained that same year.

     I read a lot about the "Missouri Civil War".  D. David Scaer taught at the Springfield and Fort Wayne LCMS seminaries (they eventually merged), and is an opponent of all that Seminex stood for. That is is right, and he is a renowned scholar. in systematic and biblical theology. After reading this book, I am glad that I did not remain in the LCMS.

     Oh, I could have. I am German-speaking, and that would have been a plus. But I saw too many careers and families suffering because of what went on. My fear was that even if I made it through seminary and was ordained, down the road someone would take exception to something that I said, and I would have been in trouble. 

     That happened to Scaer. Someone who was no way near his equal in scholarship brought charges of false doctrine against him. It took years to be resolved. At the same time Scaer was Academic Dean at the Fort Wayne Seminary, and constantly felt pressured, living in fear of losing his position on the faculty. 

     I found it interesting that Scaer portrayed John Tietjen, St. Louis Seminary president who became Seminex president as overly political but sang the praises of his counterpart Robert Preus. The latter found himself subjected to horrible pressures for his theology (and his brother Jacob was LCMS president even). 

    For me, this was a sad but affirming read.I made the right choice, thanks be to God. After the moderates were expelled from the LCMS, the High Church contingent (I am one of those) and other groups were weeded out. The image that comes to be is of Chronos eating his young. Those interested in an interesting time of American Church History in the 20th Century will enjoy this. There were also upheavals in other denominations. 

Reviews Are So Very Important to Writers, and So Hard to Get

      When my first poetry book was published seven years ago, I dutifully asked readers/friends to review it. That book, Places and Times, ...