We finish February with Meanderings and a hopeful eye on Spring’s arrival.

What is your ideal bookstore?

But it got me thinking. What is my idea of the ideal bookstore? I came to an interesting conclusion, thinking of the various bookstores I’ve visited. There is no single ideal. I’ve visited “hole in the wall” bookstores that I have really loved, bookstores in houses, bookstores in converted storage buildings, indie stores, and chain stores and liked them all. I think of a tiny paperback store in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan that had a stash of great vintage science fiction. I’ve visited great new book stores, used book stores, and some that sell both. Probably my best answer would be: they have books!

But if you pressed me, here are a some things that make a store one to which I want to return:

*It is distinctive, even if part of a chain.
*It has engaging booksellers who actually seem interested in helping you find the next great book. I still remember the booksellers at Acorn Books, now closed, as some of the best. By the same token, I’ve interacted with a number of Barnes & Noble booksellers who went to great lengths to track down books their online site says are available but I could not find–in one case locating a book in a stockroom that had not yet been placed on the sales floor.
*They have a selection that goes beyond the popular books that I either have or don’t want.
*In my case they have strong sections in science, history and biography, crime fiction, science fiction and literary fiction, and religion and philosophy. I always remember my first visit to a Borders that had all of these. I thought I was in book heaven.
*Sometimes, it is the unique vibe of the bookstore. I think of one small store in a college town that is incredibly well curated, both in terms of new titles, and “consigned” titles, many from college professors. My kind of place!
*A bookstore cat adds to the ambiance of any store. This might be something for Barnes and Noble to consider as they try to reinvent themselves!
*I love used bookstores of any time, but the ones where the books are actually organized in some semblance of order, and where stock has been dusted some time in living memory is a plus.
*I think of stores that are great family places, where you, your spouse, and your children of different ages can all find interesting books.
*While cafés are nice, some are pricy and make me choose between that frappuccino and that book. Just give me comfortable seating scattered around the store where I can browse books I’m considering purchasing.
*I enjoy stores where the booksellers have made recommendations, either in sections or on notecards by the books. I’ve bought books for on the basis of that.
*Of course, because I read a lot, I always like finding books at a discount. I have found how much they depreciate when I try to sell them. I’ve also come to appreciate that only sales of new books provide royalties to the author.

Two intellectual giants, now passed:

Two intellectual giants left us very recently: they were the American, Gertrude Himmelfarb (1922-2019), and the Englishman, Sir Roger Vernon Scruton (1944-2020). I am considering them together for several reasons: firstly, because they shared many attitudes, not least recognition of the role of religion in shaping society; secondly, because they did not kow-tow to baying Mobs unaware of anything other than Received Opinion; and thirdly because the so-called “lefties” loathed them. All are excellent reasons why we should respect both.

Speaking of brilliance, I loved this piece.

Wade Burleson connects SBC declining attendance to … silencing of women:

Christian Fundamentalists get their identity from fighting "others." Fundamentalists in the Southern Baptist Convention were successful in ridding the convention of alleged "enemies" in the 1990s. Most everyone opposed to their control left the SBC.

There was nobody else to control or to fight in 1998. That's when Paige Patterson turned the SBC toward controlling the "others" among us - our women.

In 2007, I predicted the Southern Baptist Sexual Abuse crisis and tried to do something about it.

Today, the Southern Baptist Convention is facing another crisis. We are subjugating, stifling, and silencing our women.

Twenty years ago the Southern Baptist Convention leadership elevated “the role of women” in the SBC from a third-order doctrinal issue to a second-order doctrinal issue.

Until "the role of women" in the Southern Baptist Convention is reverted back to the third-level doctrinal tier to which it belongs, the Southern Baptist Convention will continue its precipitous decline.

If you are a Christian man and you can't listen to a woman teach the Scripture, then you may have a hard time hearing the Spirit for yourself (see ).

At this year's Pastor's Conference, Hosanna Wong will speak the Word of God to pastors who gather for the annual Southern Baptist Pastors Conference.

Followers of Jesus who gather to hear Hosanna will be blessed by her proclamation of God's Word and the exaltation of Jesus Christ through the spoken word.

Some Fundamentalists are upset. That's expected. They have to fight someone.

This conservative, Bible-believing pastor is thrilled that finally the SBC is beginning to recognize the truth that when the Spirit moves, "your sons and daughters shall prophesy."

Methuselah and dates?

The world's most remarkable date palm trees might not exist if Sarah Sallon hadn't gotten sick while working as a doctor in India in 1986. Antibiotics didn't help. What cured here, she thinks, were some traditional herbal remedies.

"It was just amazing. It was so incredible," she says. "And then I got very interested. There's nothing like a doctor cured of their problem to get them interested in something."

When she moved back home to Israel, to her job at the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, she went looking for medicinal plants there. And she found lots of them. But she also heard about ancient medicinal plants that had disappeared.

"They're just historical ghosts," she says. "Like the famous date plantations along the Dead Sea, 2,000 years ago — described by Pliny; described by Josephus, the first-century historian. They're not there anymore. They just vanished!"

Sallon realized, though, that seeds from those trees still existed. They'd been recovered from archaeological sites. So she went to the archaeologists and proposed planting some of those seeds, to see if they'd grow again. It didn't go well at first. "They thought I was mad!" she says. "They didn't think that this was even conceivable."

But she kept pushing, and eventually persuaded a few of them to provide some seeds to try this with. More than a decade ago, she and Elaine Solowey, a researcher at the Arava Institute of Environmental Studies, planted some of these ancient palm seeds. "Six weeks later, little green shoots appeared!" she says.

One tree grew. They named it Methuselah. But Methuselah had a problem.

Date trees are a little unusual. They're either male or female; each tree makes either pollen or fertile flowers. But it takes both to produce fruit. So Methuselah by himself couldn't re-create those ancient dates.

But then Sallon found another archaeologist who had recovered a whole trove of date seeds from Qumran, where the ancient texts known as the Dead Sea scrolls had been discovered.