All Posts By

James C. Schaap

Essay

Precious in His Sight

It's an odd title, Mystery Having Eight Mothers, and she didn't have an editor. You can't help but smile at an occasional misspelling, and often there's little rhyme nor reason why one section follows another, although the book is roughly chronological. Stuck…
Essay

The St. John’s Bible

He's the Queen's scribe, the man--the artist--responsible for creating England's most important state documents. He's the royal calligrapher, an artist, a past chair of the Society of Scribes and Illuminators (a word so rare my spellcheck red-lines it). He's a…
Essay

John, Next Door

School was less than a block away when I was a kid, so I walked, every day, sometimes out the front door, sometimes the back. I went home every noon for lunch.  That's when I saw what I did. I…
Essay

Robert D. Ray, 1928-2018

It may well have been one of the best marketing ploys I'd ever come up with--get former Iowa Governor Robert Ray to come out west to Sioux City for a book rollout, a collection of stories about Tai Dam people,…
Essay

Herman the German

You've probably never heard of Herman the German and likely never stopped to greet him in New Ulm, Minnesota. Then again, you could have driven through town and not seen him at all. You've got to go south and up…
Essay

Finding the Trail

This summer, see if you can find your way to the Trail. You'll have to hunt to find it, but here and there along the way you’ll find stone markers, set down a century ago to memorialize a highway that…
Essay

A sort of confession

When Julia Ward Howe sat down to refashion a much beloved Union battle hymn the troops called "John Brown's Body," she created new lyrics and a bold new score that, almost magically, became as deeply imprinted on America's soul as…
Essay

The Battle of the Spurs

There's something vintage Old Testament about the story, something decidedly like myth. But it happened; and just a bit north of Topeka, atop a hill along the road, a somewhat unkempt highway marker tells part of the story, the part…
Essay

Only the beginning

A century ago this month, my great-uncle came down with pneumonia. He was on his way to France to fight the Huns, WWI, the "Great War." That illness set him behind the rest of his platoon, but he caught up,…
Essay

Phil

Fifty years after it went out of style, he still wore his hair--great hair, by the way--in a duck tail. Had he let it grow a little longer, he might have passed for Sikh and never worn a turban. He…