My Girls of the Day were not accidental.... today is the birthday of Jane Austen, born in 1775.
Austen's works are among the few novels that I pick up every few years to reread. (Although, come to think of it, I haven't reread Emma or Pride and Prejudice or Mansfield Park or Sense and Sensibility for awhile... better get that on my list!) So simple -- she is famous for noting that the material for a novel could be found in a small town in the English countryside and 3 or 4 families -- Austen's novels about young women and their paths to marriage are among the more profound statements of Christian morality I've read.
A moment in Emma captures this quality beautifully: the highly intelligent, beautiful and rich Emma Woodhouse ridicules Miss Bates, a kindhearted spinster, at a picnic while trying to flirt with the ne-er-do-well, Frank Churchill. For making a joke to impress Churchill at another's expense, Emma is reprimanded by Mr. Knightley, a true gentleman (whom she will ultimately wed). The point is simple, yet central to Christianity -- we do not use other people for our own purposes, we do not casually cause harm or hurt feelings. If we are strong, we protect the weak, we do not exploit them. A great, great novelist, up there with Tolstoy and George Eliot in my Top 3.
My old man loved jazz, and particularly small-group, traditional jazz. One of his favorites was a San Francisco-based trombonist named Turk Murphy, who was born today in 1915. I hope Dad is at Earthquake McGoon's in heaven, listening to Turk right now. Here's Turk: