Thursday, December 14, 2017

Quote of the Day

Once again the Trump administration has sided with big money and against the interests of the American people. The vote by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to end net neutrality is an egregious attack on our democracy. With this decision the Internet and its free exchange of information as we have come to know it will cease to exist. The end of net neutrality protections means that the Internet will be for sale to the highest bidder, instead of everyone having the same access regardless of whether they are rich or poor, a big corporation or small business, a multimedia conglomerate or a small online publication. At a time when our democratic institutions are already in peril, we must do everything we can to stop this decision from taking effect.

Senator Bernie Sanders
via Facebook
December 14, 2017


Related Off-site Links:
U.S. Regulators Ditch Net Neutrality Rules as Legal Battles Loom – David Shepardson (Reuters, December 14, 2017).
FCC Repeals Title II Net Neutrality Protections Amid Uproar – Ryan Grenoble (The Huffington Post, December 14, 2017).
What Will an Internet Without Net Neutrality Be Like? – April Glaser (Slate, December 8, 2017).
Neutral No More: Three Ways the Net Neutrality Repeal Will Change How You Use the Internet – Noah Kulwin (Vice News, December 14, 2017).
Net Neutrality Killed as FCC "Hands Keys to Internet to Handful of Multi-Billion Dollar Corporations" – Julia Conley (The Huffington Post, December 14, 2017).
These Are the Women Who Tried to Save Net Neutrality – Lydia O’Connor (The Huffington Post, December 14, 2017).
FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn Shreds Net Neutrality Decision: The FCC Is Ignoring the Will of the People – S Nicholson (Revere Press, December 14, 2017).
FCC Commissioner: Net Neutrality Repeal Shows "Contempt" for Citizens Who Speak Up – Rebecca Savransky (The Hill, December 14, 2017).
"Last Gasp of the Open Internet" as Web Defenders Mobilize Against FCC's Final Move to Kill Net Neutrality – Jake Johnson (Common Dreams, December 14, 2017).
The Fight for the Open Internet Isn’t Over: How the FCC’s Move to Kill Net Neutrality Will Be Challenged in Court – April Glaser (Slate, December 14, 2017).
Net Neutrality Repeal Is Only Part of Trump’s Surrender to Corporate Media – Reed Richardson (FAIR, December 14, 2017).
Fighting the Assaults on Net Neutrality and Our Economy – Harvey Wasserman (TruthDig, December 14, 2017).

UPDATES: We Can Get the FCC’s Decision to Kill Net Neutrality Overturned. Here’s How – Evan Greer (Common Dreams, December 15, 2017).
Killing Net Neutrality Has Brought On a New Call for Public Broadband – Zaid Jilani (The Intercept, December 15, 2017).

Image: A supporter of net neutrality demonstrates near the Federal Communications Commission headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Getting Into the Holiday Spirit


Recently I and other members of the Spiritual Care Department at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis decorated a window for the holiday season. A number of other departments also got into the holiday spirit and creatively and colorfully decorated a window in one of the hospital's ground floor hallways.

Above: Fellow Spiritual Care colleagues (from left) Parker, Simeon, Verna, Chandler, and Hae – November 29, 2017.



Most of the windows were decorated in a light-hearted and fun way (above and/or left) which, of course, is fine.

We wanted the message on our window, however, to be a little more serious, to share something of depth in a simple yet powerful way. We also wanted our message to reflect the interfaith character of the Spiritual Care department. Accordingly, we went with the following . . .

Hope is the star that illuminates the dark, lifts your spirit, and nurtures your heart.


The original (uncredited) quote, which I found online, is slightly different, as you can see in the image below.




Above: My friend and fellow resident chaplain Hae, who was recently ordained as a Presbyterian minister.



Above: Chaplain intern Parker, expressing his artistic side!



Above: Verna, Ken, Parker, and Simeon.



Above: Simeon, Rev. Verlyn Hemmen, and Hae. Verlyn is Director of the Allina Health Metro Hospitals Spiritual Care and Pastoral Education Department and is a CPE supervisor at Abbott Northwestern.



Above: Chaplain intern Simeon, putting the
finishing touches on the Star of Hope!






See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Interfaith Chaplaincy: Meeting People Where They're At
Chaplaincy: A Ministry of Welcome
Spirituality and the Healthcare Setting
Christmastide Approaches


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Quote of the Day


It's so refreshing seeing Doug Jones on stage with his supporters tonight, looking like America – brown and white, young and old, male and female, professional and blue collar – in stark contrast to those standing with Roy Moore – the Old South, nothing but pinched-faced, elderly white men, with that pasty look of Scots-Irish backwoodsmen gone to pot in old age, jowly and scowling, barking about a bitter and angry Jesus. Perhaps, finally, the Confederacy is dead – or at least overwhelmed.

Ken Darling
via Facebook
December 12, 2017


Related Off-site Links and Updates:
Once a Long Shot, Democrat Doug Jones Wins Alabama Senate Race – Alexander Burns (New York Times,December 12, 2017).
An Upset in Trump Country: Democrat Doug Jones Bests Roy Moore in Alabama – Jessica Taylor (NPR News, December 12, 2017).
Trump, Bannon, and Roy Moore Rebuked as Doug Jones Claims Victory in Alabama – Jon Queally (Common Dreams, December 12, 2017).
Roy Moore’s Stunning Defeat Reveals the Red Line for Trump-style Politics – Richard Wolffe (The Guardian, December 13, 2017).
Doug Jones Rides a Perfect GOP Storm to the Senate – Pema Levy (Mother Jones, December 12, 2017).
Roy Moore’s Loss Signals a GOP Tearing Itself Apart Ahead of 2018 – Theo Anderson (In These Times, December 13, 2017).
African American Voters Made Doug Jones a U.S. Senator in Alabama – Vann R. Newkirk II (The Atlantic, December 12, 2017).
You’re Welcome, White People: Alabama’s Black Voters Just Saved America – Michael Harriot (The Root, December 12, 2017).
Just Say No Thanks to #ThanksAlabama and "Magical Negro" Narratives – Cynthia Greenlee (Rewire, December 14, 2017).

Image: Democratic U.S. Senator elect Doug Jones speaks to supporters during his election night gathering at the Sheraton Hotel on December 12, 2017 in Birmingham, Alabama. Doug Jones defeated his Republican challenger Roy Moore to claim Alabama's U.S. Senate seat that was vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)


Sunday, December 10, 2017

Advent: A "ChristoPagan" Perspective


Last Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent in the Christian tradition and as writer Katie Jenkins reminds us in the piece I share below, it is a liturgical season of waiting and a time to reorient ourselves to what it is we are waiting for: our recognition of the "in-breaking of God into our own personal lives and communities."

Advent was established by the early church at this time of year because of the many long-established pagan understandings and rituals to do with winter here in the northern hemisphere. Indeed, the Christian year, as Joyce and River Higginbotham note in their book ChristoPaganism: An Inclusive Path, is a combination of the pagan earth-centered yearly cycle and the church's own Christ-centered one. Both the pagan year and the church year begin in December – at the Winter Solstice and at Advent respectively.

I purposely opened this post with an image of Cernunnos, the ancient Celtic deity (or archetype) of nature, life and flourishment, as a way of honoring the pagan roots of the Christian church's Advent season, along with the shared understandings and symbolism of both traditions. It's an honoring rooted in a "ChristoPagan" perspective, to be sure!

I appreciate how Cernunnos is depicted, and how this depiction relates to a lot of the things associated with Advent. After all, in writing about Advent, Katie Jenkins talks about such things as humility, yearning, waiting, being still, connecting with our deepest self, discerning, and being present. I see all these things reflected in this particular image of Cernunnos. And, of course, Advent is also all about seeking and hoping to recognize God in, as Jenkins puts it, "small, daily, unforeseen ways." I dare say Cernunnos, in true pagan fashion, is recognizing the sacred in the beauty of the natural world around him, and, in particular, in those two birds perched together in the winter tree!

Yes, even in the dark and cold of winter the Sacred Presence is with us. Our task is to be constantly reorienting ourselves so that we recognize and embody this presence. That for me is what both Advent and the Winter Solstice remind us to do, especially in times that are bleak and seemingly lifeless.

Advent is a time to reorient ourselves to the world and to God. It is a humble time of recognizing one’s need and yearning for God’s presence to break into the world.

The waiting we are called to do during Advent is not the busy, numbing, frenetic kind of waiting, but the stilling, germinating kind
that connects you deeply with the present and your true self. . . . We open ourselves up to await the in-breaking of God into our own personal lives and communities here in the present. It is a time to connect with our hope and our desire.

It is a season for us to settle down deeply into ourselves – to hear our heart cry, to find that spark of life and hope deep within the darkness of unknowing. Desires unfulfilled. Hope unmet. Longing unsatisfied. It is a time of discernment, of waiting, of being present.

Because of this, it seems appropriate that in the northern hemisphere, this is the darkest time of year . . . and appropriate that the beginning of the church calendar would likewise begin in stillness and the dark, with us facing our deepest fears and desires, cultivating our hope for the light.

In the silence and the darkness, we hear our own heart’s cry, our own flame of desire, our own longing for God. . . . We are learning to look for God and hoping [to recognize] God . . . in small, daily, unforeseen ways.

– Katie Jensen
Excerpted from "Entering Advent: Journey Into Darkness"


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
An Advent Prayer
Advent: The Season of Blessed Paradox
Active Waiting: A Radical Attitude Toward Life
No Other Time, No Other Place
The Centered Life as an Advent Life
Rejoice? (Advent 2012)
Advent 2011: Thoughts and Reflections (Part 1)
Advent 2011: Thoughts and Reflections (Part 2)
Advent 2011: Thoughts and Reflections (Part 3)
Advent 2011: Thoughts and Reflections (Part 4)
Thoughts on Waiting . . . and a Resolution
My Advent Prayer for the Church
Advent: Renewing Our Connection with the Sacred
Celebrating the Coming of the Sun and the Son
Christmastide Approaches

Related Off-site Links:
What Is Advent About After All? – Paul Menter (Aspen Daily News, December 6, 2017).
Advent: Hearing God in a Female Voice – Joe Kay (Sojourners, December 4, 2017).
Second Sunday of Advent Invites Us to a Meta-dream – Mary M. McGlone (National Catholic Reporter, December 9, 2017).
Happy Holidays. Yes, All of Them – Thomas L. Knapp (Stanwood Camano News, December 12, 2017).
Look to the Coming Light to Refresh your Winter-weary Soul: Winter Solstice Can Be a Spiritual Experience – Andrea Thompson McCall (Press Herald, December 12, 2017).

Image: Artist unknown.


Friday, December 08, 2017

A Prayer for Dancers


O God, you set the stars to dance over the skies, and the the planets to waltz in their orbits. Because I have the dust of the stars in my bones, let me join that eternal dance. Amen.

– Kristen Johnson Ingram
Excerpted from Chapter 4, "A Prayer a Dancer Does,"
in Beyond Words: 15 Ways of Doing Prayer



See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
To Dance . . .
The Soul of a Dancer
The Art of Dancing as the Supreme Symbol of the Spiritual Life
Aristotle Papanikolaou on How Being Religious is Like Being a Dancer
The Potential of Art and the Limits of Orthodoxy to Connect Us to the Sacred
Move Us, Loving God
A Kind of Dancing Divinity
Balance: The Key to Serenity and Peace
The Premise of All Forms of Dance
Not Whether We Dance, But How
"I Came Alive with Hope"
The Dancer and the Dance
And As We Dance . . .

Image 1: Samuele Berbenni by Merien Morey.
Image 2: Photographer unknown.


Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Photo of the Day


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Prayer Tree
Autumn Snow
Winter Arrives

Related Off-site Links:
Icy, Slushy, Snowy Mess on Area Roads AM Tuesday – Paul Douglas (Star Tribune, December 5, 2017).
Winter Storm Brings Icy Roads and Travel Headaches – Tim Nelson (MPR News, December 5, 2017).


Monday, December 04, 2017

Happy Birthday, Mum!

In Australia today my mother celebrates her 79th birthday . . . Happy Birthday, Mum!

I've said it many times before and I'll happily and truthfully say it again: My two brothers and I are incredibly fortunate to have Margaret Anne Bayly (née Sparkes) as our mother. She’s a beautiful, wise and strong woman who extends care, kindness, and love to everyone she encounters.

I love you, Mum, and can’t thank you enough for who you are and for all you continue to be and give to me, my brothers, our family, and so many others whose lives are fortunate enough to be touched by yours!

In celebrating Mum's birthday at The Wild Reed in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2015 I shared quite a number of photos from the Bayly family archives. In fact, it was a bit of a chore to find new ones for this post! But rest assured, I found a few. Enjoy!



Above: My mother as a child. Mum was born in Gunnedah, New South Wales, Australia. She was the first of four children of Valentine and Olive Sparkes (nee Millerd). She also had two older half-siblings, Eric and Fay, from Olive’s first marriage to Eric Louis.

For more about Mum’s family and Gunnedah, click here.



Above: That's Mum in the dark-colored dress, standing at right. Her older half-sister Fay is seated holding the youngest in the family, Ruth. That's my Uncle Michael standing at left. I don't know who the other two are.



Left: My maternal grandfather, Valentine Sparkes (1890-1971), pictured at my parents' wedding in 1959.





Above: My maternal grandmother, Olive Sparkes (1906-1997), celebrating her 90th birthday in 1996 with her children (from left) Fay, Margaret, Ruth, and Michael. (Two of Nanna Sparkes’ children, Eric and Catherine, died when they were young.) This particular photo was taken to accompany an article about Nanna’s birthday that appeared in Gunnedah’s newspaper, The Namoi Valley Independent.



Above: With Mum and Aunty Ruth in Gunnedah this past August.



Above: My parents on their wedding day in Gunnedah, November 7, 1959.



Above: Mum and Dad with their three sons, Christopher, Michael, and Timothy – Sunday, August 6, 2017. This photo was taken in Coogee, a beachside suburb of Sydney, where we gathered earlier this year to celebrate Dad's 80th birthday.



Above: Mum in September of 2006. That's Dad and my younger brother Tim (playing with a football) behind her.



Above: My older brother Chris and I with Mum – July 2006.



Above: My younger brother Tim and I with Mum and Dad – December 2010.



Above: With Mum and our good Gunnedah friends John and Heather Sills – September 24, 2006.



Above: Mum with her two granddaughters, Sami and Layne – January 2007.



Above: Mum and Dad and I visiting my older brother and his family in London – August 2005.

From left: Chris, Cathie, Brendan, Ryan, Mitchell, Mum, Liam, Dad, and I. For some more up to date images of the family, click here.



Above: Mum and Dad watering the flowers on the rooftop patio of their apartment at Swallows Ledge, Port Macquarie – December 2010. . . . Yes, that's quite the view!



Above: Mum on the beach in Guruk (a.k.a. Port Macquarie) – August 10, 2017.


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Thanks, Mum!
Happy Birthday, Mum (2015)
Happy Birthday, Mum (2014)
Happy Birthday, Mum (2013)
Happy Birthday, Mum (2011)
Happy Birthday, Mum (2010)
Happy Birthday, Mum (2009)
Congratulations, Mum and Dad!
Catholic Rainbow (Australian) Parents


Sunday, December 03, 2017

A Timely Reminder . . .



Related Off-site Links:
GOP Tax Bills Are Theft From Working People – Jeff Johnson (The Stand, November 29, 2017).
Bernie Sanders: This Tax Bill Will Be Remembered As One of the Greatest Robberies in American History – Tim Hains (Real Clear Politics, December 1, 2017).
The GOP Tax Scam Two-Step: Explode the Deficit With Cuts for Rich, Then Screw the Poor – Jake Johnson (Common Dreams, December 2, 2017).
“Tax Reform”? No, GOP Plan Is “Wealth Care” – Dave Zweifel (Madison Capital Times via Common Dreams, December 3, 2017).
“This Is Class Warfare”: Tax Vote Sparks Political Brawl Over Populism That Will Carry Into 2018 Elections – David Weigel, Robert Costa, and Paul Kane (The Washington Post, December 2, 2017).
U.S. Elections: A Poor Substitute for Democracy – Paul Street (TruthDig, November 30, 2017).
GOP Voter Suppression Is the Country’s Greatest Scandal – Jay Michaelson (The Daily Beast, November 8, 2017).
The GOP’s Voter Suppression Playbook Is Real and Treasonous – Hunter Walk (The Huffington Post, February 13, 2017).
American Democracy Is Now Under Siege by Both Cyber-Espionage and GOP Voter Suppression – Ari Berman (The Nation, July 12, 2017).
How Do Republicans Get Away With Voter Suppression? – Mark Karlin (TruthOut, January 1, 2017).
Investigative Reporter Greg Palast: GOP Stole 2016 Election Using Voter Suppression and Purging Ploys – Kasia Anderson (TruthDig, November 17, 2016).
Paul Krugman: The Entire Republican Party Is Rotten to the Core – Jacob Sugarman (AlterNet, December 1, 2017).
Fascism’s Rising in America Because America Doesn’t Understand Fascism – Umair Haque (Eudaimona & Co, November 27, 2017).
Overwhelming Majority of Americans Believe that Both Parties Are Too Corrupt to Change Anything . . . “This, in Fact, Is a Revolution”Washington's Blog (February 8, 2016).

UPDATES: Gangster Capitalism and Nostalgic Authoritarianism in Trump’s America – Henry Giroux (Salon via TruthDig, December 5, 2017).
Donald Trump Is Just the Front Man for a Massive Heist – Robert L. Borosage (The Nation, December 5, 2017).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
With Republicans at the Helm, It's the United States of Hypocrisy
A Profoundly Troubling and Tragic Indictment
Phillip Clark on the “Karmic Wake Up Call” of a Year Ago
Trump's America: Normalized White Supremacy and a Rising Tide of Racist Violence
On International Human Rights Day, Saying "No" to Donald Trump and His Fascist Agenda
Progressive Perspectives on the Election of Donald Trump as President
Progressive Perspectives on the Rise of Donald Trump
Trump's Playbook


Chaplaincy: A Ministry of Welcome


Regular followers of this blog would know that at the end of August I commenced a year-long chaplain residency at Abbott Northwestern Hospital (ANW) in Minneapolis. In the photo above I'm pictured with my fellow resident chaplains Katie, Hae and Chandler, and our supervisor Mark (center).

My chaplaincy work at ANW continues to be both a challenging and rewarding experience, and one through which I continue to learn what it means to embody the presence of the Sacred and thus be a listening and healing presence for others. What is meant by this term "healing presence"? James Miller and Susan Cutshall describe it well in their book The Art of Being a Healing Presence.

Healing presence is the condition of being consciously and compassionately in the present moment with another or with others, believing in and affirming their potential for wholeness, wherever they are in life.


Early last month in the chapel at ANW, my fellow resident chaplain Hae was ordained as a Presbyterian minister. It was a very beautiful and powerful ceremony, one to which I had the honor of being invited.


The Rev. Elona Street-Stewart (right) gave the sermon at Hae's ordination service, and in it she shared her perspective on what chaplaincy is all about.

I must say it's interesting to read her words now as in the interval between Hae's ordination and today, I had the honor of accompanying a family as they experienced a sudden and tragic loss. At one point the mother in this family told me I was a "rock" for her and the other members of the family in the midst of the terrible ordeal they were experiencing. At the time I didn't think much of her comment; perhaps I even dismissed it in my mind. Surely what I'm doing, or rather being for this family isn't that significant?

But now in light of the Rev. Street-Stewart insightful words, perhaps it was.

[As a chaplain] you are being called to protect and nourish the space for people who want to live; social, emotional, political, spiritual beings who want to be loved.

Where will it take you when you face those shared experiences of life or death, joy or depression? The Spirit will take you to God, the Rock. Remember God is always the Rock beneath your feet, but God is also the Rock in that space ahead of you . . .

To guide the way

To lean against when you need strength

To stand on to see what is beyond your sight

To lay under when you need to rest

To connect you to the earth, over and over again

To embrace for love

Chaplaincy is a ministry of perseverance, generosity, struggle, service, resistance, hospitality, openness, and above all, welcome. The Spirit will fill your imagination so you can minister to people, those who believe and many that don’t, far beyond the four walls of a church or organization. The KIN-dom of God is as real as that Rock. Jesus said it is a hand and he meant it.


Following are some more images of my friend and fellow resident chaplain Hae's ordination.







See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Interfaith Chaplaincy: Meeting People Where They're At
Spirituality and the Healthcare Setting
The Prayer Tree
St. Michael, "Wave Maker"
Christianity and the Question of God's Presence in the Midst of Hardships and Heartache

Images: Michael J. Bayly.


Saturday, December 02, 2017

With Republicans at the Helm, It's the United States of Hypocrisy



Related Off-site Links:
Senate Passes Massive Tax Cuts for the Rich in Middle of the Night – Matt Fuller and Arthur Delaney (The Huffington Post, December 2, 2017).
Senate Passes Tax Overhaul Bill with Last-minute Changes and Hand-written Scribbles – Charlie May (Salon, December 2, 2017).
A Historic Tax Heist – The Editorial Board (The New York Times, December 2, 2017).
The GOP Plan Is the Biggest Tax Increase in American History, By Far – Ryan Grim (The Intercept, December 1, 2017).
GOP Tax Bill Is The End of All Economic Sanity in Washington – Stan Collender (Forbes, November 19, 2017).
Paul Krugman: The Entire Republican Party Is Rotten to the Core – Jacob Sugarman (AlterNet, December 1, 2017).
Tax Bill Adds New Deduction For Blackstone CEO And GOP Donor Schwarzman – Josh Keefe (International Business Times, December 1, 2017).
Exposing America’s Biggest Hypocrites: Evangelical Christians – Francis Maxwell (The Huffington Post, November 24, 2017).
Civics 101 — Republicons Applauded Like They Did Something, But This Is NOT OVER: NEXT STEPS HEREDaily Kos (December 2, 2017).

UPDATES: The GOP Tax Bill Assaults the Planet as Well as the Poor – Basav Sen (Common Dreams, December 5, 2017).
In 72 hours, Donald Trump Undermined Everything the Republican Party Once Stood For – Skylar Baker-Jordan (The Independent, December 4, 2017).
Ronald Reagan Tried Deep Corporate-tax Cuts Before. They Didn’t Work – Gwynn Guilford (Quartz, December 4, 2017).
Donald Trump Is Just the Front Man for a Massive Heist – Robert L. Borosage (The Nation, December 5, 2017).
Dan Rather Just Declared War on Trump and the “Morally Rotted” Republican Party – Robert Haffey (Verified Politics, December 4, 2017).
The GOP Tax Scam: Naming the Culprits – Robert Weissman (Common Dreams, December 4, 2017).
“It’s Not Fair”: Dismayed Trump Supporters Are Feeling “Betrayed” By Tax Plan For The Rich – Lance Perriman (PoliticalDig, December 4, 2017).
“Tax the Rich, Not the Sick!”: Hundreds Storm Capitol Hill Offices to Denounce GOP Tax Bill – Julia Conley (Common Dreams, December 5, 2017).
Media Downplay Class Warfare as “GOP Victory” – Ben Norton (FAIR, December 6, 2017).
The Republican Tax Bill Is a Poison Pill That Kills the New Deal – Heather Cox Richardson (BillMoyers.com, December 7, 2017).
The Closing of the Republican Mind – Ronald Brownstein (The Atlantic, December 7, 2017).
Resisting Trumpism Requires a Grand Unifying Theory – Sonali Kolhatkar (TruthDig via Common Dreams, December 8, 2017).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A Profoundly Troubling and Tragic Indictment
Quote of the Day – June 28, 2017


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Celebrating Poldark


Season 3 of Poldark, to be precise!


Here in the U.S., PBS recently concluded its broadcasting of the third season of the British TV drama, Poldark. This particular season (or series as they say in the U.K.) was shown earlier this year in Britain, Australia, and elsewhere. I actually watched it when I was home in Australia in July and August.

Of course,that didn't stop me watching it again when it hit America TV screens on October 1. In fact, I hosted a "Poldark party" at my home not only on the night of season three's premiere but each Sunday night thereafter until the season ended two weeks ago.



Above: My "Poldark party" on the night of the show's season 3 premiere – Sunday, October 1, 2017. From left: John, Lisa, me, Brent, Jim, Brent, Kathy, and Pete.


I'm not going to go into what Poldark is about because, as regular readers of this blog would know, I've long been an admirer of author Winston Graham's series of twelve novels that Poldark is based upon . . . and have been since I first read them as a teenager in the late 1970s. For those unfamiliar with Poldark, I suggest the previous Wild Reed posts that can be found here, here, here, and here.

Suffice to say that season 3, like the previous two seasons, is set against the beautiful and rugged Cornish coast in the closing years of the eighteenth century. It's a troubled time, with social unrest in Cornwall and war and revolution across the English Channel in France. There is personal strife, too, with Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) and his wife Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) rebuilding their lives after experiencing marital turmoil and financial hardship.

Season 3 covers the fifth Poldark novel, The Black Moon, and part of the sixth, The Four Swans. Of course, I recommend all the Poldark novels, but have to admit that The Black Moon is one of my favorites. For one thing it introduces a number of new characters, including Demelza's brothers Sam and Drake Carne, Elizabeth's young cousin Morwenna Chynoweth, the handsome navel officer Hugh Armitage, and the truly odious Rev. Osbourne Whitworth.

Production-wise Poldark is exceptional – solid scripts, beautiful cinematography, impeccable acting, complex characters, and engaging storylines involving personal passions, political intrigue . . . oh, and a daring raid on a French prison camp!

The following screencaps from season 2 provide a good example of Poldark's very cinematic look. I just love it, especially the use of light to create truly memorable, vignette-like scenes.












Following are excerpts from a number of reviews of Poldark, season/series 3, along with a few pics from this latest season of the show. And, yes, there will be a fourth season!


It's quite an achievement that Poldark's series 3 opener makes a lot of set-up and introduction feel easy and involving. Ross is still Head Haircut, and Aidan Turner still a magnetic lead, but Series Three feels like the point where the show puts greater emphasis on activities beyond Ross's copper-finding strops, and demonstrates the strengths of an excellent – and expanding – ensemble cast.

– Rob Smedley
Excerpted from "Poldark Series 3, Episode 1 Review:
Sunny and Sexy, But Things Get Real Dark, Real Fast
"
Digital Spy
June 11, 2017


We can measure the distance of the first four Poldark books (written 1945-53, Ross Poldark, Demelza, Jeremy Poldark, Warleggan) from the trilogy written 20 years later, (1973-77, The Black Moon, The Four Swans, The Angry Tide), upon which the third and two seasons at least next must be based. In the [1973-77 trilogy], [author Winston] Graham chooses to realize truly historical characters (not just invented ones), linchpin capitalists and great landowners, Tory (Lord Falmouth, from his mother’s side a Boscawen) or Whig (Sir Francis Basset, later Lord Dunstanville). Not fantasy figures at all. And in [season three] Ross is deeply conflicted over what he has done in the past, and what he should do for the future, and [for a while] seems to have decided retreat into his nuclear family and friends is the best right option. He will discover that he is wrong here.

. . . My first response is as all previous encounters [with the 2015-present Poldark TV series]: I think how [each new season] is not as good as [the previous one] (in this third season the dressers of Ross are back to allowing him to have utterly unkempt hair), and neither as effective . . . as the 1970s [TV series]. . . . Yet, as in previous encounters, I admit [screenwriter Debbie] Horsfield is following the general story and at moments more literally true, elaborating seriously on what is in the books. The 1970s equivalent did not show Elizabeth trying to get rid of the child or bring on parturition as crudely or melodramatically as Horsfield had the actors clash (Ross just happens to be on a cliff where Elizabeth seems to be trying to throw herself over); these are incidents George half-glimpses in the book and whose significance he fails to understand. It is made pointedly clear in episode 1 that Ross and Demelza believe Elizabeth’s second baby’s father is Ross. Ross cannot resist hanging around Trenwith; after the baby is born, we see him running frantically on the beach to calm himself, bending over in twisted ways frustrated that he can do nothing for this son; Demelza justifies her returning to see her father die despite his abuse of her because there is a special bond between father and child which must not be ignored. Horsfield is developing cores of the books.

– Ellen Moody
Excerpted from "Poldark, Season 3, Episodes 1 and 2:
Again Changing Emphases, Bringing Out Sense of Community
"
Ellen And Jim Have A Blog, Two
July 2, 2017)



Above: Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) and her brothers Drake (Harry Richardson) and Sam (Tom York).


It was all births, deaths and marriages in this belter of a series opener. Lead the fallen souls of Cornwall! ‘Tis the coming of the shadow of death – and the curse of the black moon. Bang the drums and hear the waves crashing on the shore, Poldark’s back.

There was enough going on in this episode to fuel an entire series of any other drama. And yet it all seemed fairly normal because this is just the pace at which things move in Trenwith and Nampara: let’s call it a lively mare’s gallop.

. . . [Season 3's premiere] episode did a good job of getting us back up to speed if we had forgotten the drowning of Francis; the long-standing feud between Evil George and Ross; Elizabeth and Ross’s ambiguous night of (coerced?) passion; and Aunt Agatha’s premonitions about a baby who would be coming suspiciously soon. Why, Elizabeth, all this heavy book-lifting and those three-mile walks; anyone would think you were trying to induce the birth. I felt like sending round a vindaloo to speed things up less dangerously.

– Viv Groskop
Excerpted from "Series Three, Episode One
– Ross Gallops Back Into Our Lives
"
The Guardian
July 30, 2017



Above: Heida Reed as Elizabeth Warleggan (née Poldark, née Chynoweth).



Above: Jack Farthing as George Warleggan.



Above: Caroline Blakiston as Aunt Agatha in her BIG scene of season three.


[Poldark's third season] has turned out to be pure class. I admit I got confused by the politics, but there were shenanigans aplenty what with medically censored marital relations, a pining blacksmith, and an exceptionally generous sister to distract us from the more complicated plot points.

– Viv Groskop
Excerpted from "Series Three, Episode Eight
– Bigamy Has Never Looked So Romantic
"
The Guardian
July 30, 2017


[Season 3's final] episode is dominated by the stories of the female characters, staying true to the sixth Winston Graham novel, The Four Swans. This gives Poldark's female cast a chance to truly shine, a rare sight in a show which can be somewhat male-centric. Eleanor Tomlinson is always superb when bringing the character of Demelza to life. The actress continues to develop the character, expertly portraying both the betrayed wife and her own infidelity. Another star of the episode is Ellise Chappell as Morwenna, the wife of the ghastly Reverend Whitworth (Christian Brassington). She brilliantly depicts Morwenna’s suffering at the hands of her husband and her slow transformation as she begins to stick up for herself. It is perhaps Morwenna who has had the most development throughout the series, shifting from an innocent to the survivor of sexual assault.

Despite the finale’s female focus, Jack Farthing still gives a superb performance as George Warleggan. Although it takes great skill to make a character as unlikeable as Warleggan, Farthing proves his talent when he actually makes the audience feel sorry for the unlikeable monster. In the episode’s standout scene, George is confronted and lied to by his wife Elizabeth. For once Warleggan is shown to be fallible. Heida Reed is excellent as Elizabeth in this scene too. Brilliantly confronting George, it’s an exchange that really shows off how talented an actress Reed is.

Overall, the Series 3 finale of Poldark is amazing. As the audience have come to expect from Poldark, the cinematography and production values are flawless – what would a Sunday evening be without a few ominous shots of the Cornish coast. After the epic finale of Series 2, it was difficult for Series 3 to raise the bar, but the long-awaited shift to focus on the female characters manages it. The incredibly talented female cast are finally allowed to take centre stage in this expertly crafted episode. With Series 4 already confirmed, it’s an exciting wait to see how Poldark will develop further. I have only one suggestion for further improvement; more Horace the Pug!

– Megan Isaac
Excerpted from "Review: Poldark (Series 3, Episode 9)"
The Edge
August 7, 2017



Above: Gabriella Wilde as Caroline Enys (née Penvenen)
and Luke Norris as Dr Dwight Enys.



Above: Josh Whitehouse as Lieutenant Hugh Armitage.



Above: Christian Brassington as Reverend Osborne Whitworth.



Above: Ellise Chappell as Morwenna Whitworth (née Chynoweth).


[T]he novels of Winston Graham cast Ross Poldark as a paragon of decency in a troubled world. There is some complexity in the current adaptation, notably the question of whether Poldark rapes Elizabeth, ignoring her repeated protestations of “You will not dare”.

Graham considered himself to be “an instinctive feminist” – a level of commitment to gender equality which might not pass muster today – and it’s notable that Alfred Hitchcock considered the rape scene in his adaptation of Graham’s novel Marnie to be central to his 1964 psycho-sexual thriller. (Critics did too, which is one reason Marnie is not well-regarded).

But should historical figures in popular fiction be bound by contemporary mores? Or, to put it another way, would Poldark be more interesting if his moral flaws were more pronounced?

– Alastair McKay
Excerpted from "What Makes Poldark
the Epitome of Post-feminist Crumpet TV?
"
BBC Arts
June 6, 2017



Above and below: Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark, "renegade of principle."






Following are a few more pics of the various Poldark-viewing parties I hosted throughout the duration of season three.



Above: At left with my friend Pete (center) and his boyfriend Jeffrey – October 22, 2017 (the night before my 52nd birthday!).



Above: Friends (from left) John, James, and Don – November 5, 2017. John made those Cornish pasties you can see! . . . And, yes, they were delicious!



Above (from left): Javier, my boyfriend Brent, Pete,
Jeffrey, LeMonte, John, and Jim – November 12, 2017.



Above: Gathered for the Season 3 finale! From left: Pete, Tim, Kathy, Raul, Javier, Brent, Jeffrey, and John – November 19, 2017.



Above: Another pic from the November 19 Poldark, season three finale gathering. From left: Me, Raul, my boyfriend Brent, Pete, Jeffrey, Kathy, John, Jim, and James.


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Return of the (Cornish) Native
"A Token of Wildness and Intractability"
Ross Poldark: Renegade of Principle
Poldark Rides Again
Poldark: Unfurling in Perfect Form
Thoughts on the PBS Premiere of Poldark
Meanwhile in Cornwall
The Renegade Returns
He's Back!

For more excerpts from the Poldark novels, see:
"Hers Would Be the Perpetual Ache of Loss and Loneliness"
Time and Remembrance in the Poldark Novels
Passion, Tide and Time
Demelza Takes a Chance (Part 1)
Demelza Takes a Chance (Part 2)
Captain Blamey Comes A-Calling
Rendezvous in Truro
A Fateful Reunion
A "Useful Marriage" for Morwenna
A Sea Dragon of an Emotion . . . "Causing Half the Trouble of the World, and Half the Joy"
Cornwall's – and Winston Graham's – Angry Tide
Into the Greenwood
"I Want You to Become a Part of Me – Each to Become a Part of the Other"
Home

Related Off-site Links:
Meet the Cast and Characters of Season 3 of Poldark – Alex Flether (BT, June 9, 2017).
Poldark Stars Pose in Promo Shots for Third Series – Julia Pritchard (Daily Mail, June 5, 2017).
Poldark Season 3: French Revolution "Casts a Shadow" on Cornwall – Sachin Trivedi (International Business Times, May 31, 2017).
Poldark Season 3 Review: Drama Returns with a Cursed Child, Two Deaths and a Truce – Jessica Earnshaw (Express, June 11, 2017).
Poldark, Season 3, Episodes 1 and 2: Again Changing Emphases, Bringing Out Sense of Community – Ellen Moody (Ellen And Jim Have A Blog, Two, July 2, 2017).
Poldark, Season 3, Episodes 3 and 4: The Difficulty of Returning to Material 20 Years Dormant
Poldark, Season 3, Episodes 4 and 5: A Deeper Emotionalism; a Loss of Verbal Subtleties; Late Stage Capitalism Replaces Exciting Adventure – Ellen Moody (Ellen And Jim Have A Blog, Two, July 25, 2017).
Poldark, Season 3, Episodes 6 and 7: Coerced and Reluctant Relationships; Agatha’s Death, Ross’s Refusal, Demelza Charmed – Ellen Moody (Ellen And Jim Have A Blog, Two, August 6, 2017).
Is Poldark Going to End After Five Seasons? – Ben Dowell (Radio Times, May 29, 2017).
Poldark: Episode by EpisodeThe Guardian (2017).
Poldark Series Four Likely to Air in Early Summer 2018 – Ben Dowell (Radio Times, November 1, 2017).

Images: Mammoth Screen/BBC and Michael J. Bayly.