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Walking to Emmaus

By Gerard Smyth Poetry

The man I imagine walking to Emmaus is the one I saw in Caravaggio’s flesh-and-bone depiction of Christ beckoning the taxman to his side, steady arm outstretched, pointing a finger at the table of cardsharps. It’s a gesture that’s the same in every language and seems to say there’s no time to wait for those…

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Christ in São Paulo

By Lêdo Ivo Poetry

On Christmas Eve while the bells were ringing, I saw Christ walking on a street in São Paulo. He was already a man when he was born, swaddled in his manger with solitude and death. The white cold wind whispered a secret: —Life was brief for men and gods, a sigh of Christ breathed in…

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In Defense of Irony

By Gregory Wolfe Essay

IRONY, it seems, is the hot topic of the moment. The trigger for this spate of op-eds and Sunday arts-section essays is the recent publication of a book by a graduate student at Yale University. Nearly all of the reviewers and commentators treated this young man’s book the way my kids treat a box of…

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Transfiguration

By Gregory Wolfe Essay

OF all the passages in the Bible that relate to beauty as a window onto the divine, the most neglected, and most important, is the story known as the Transfiguration. On the surface, nothing about this episode speaks directly about art, beauty, or the imagination. But placed in the right context, one can see in…

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A Sacrifice of Praise

By Gregory Wolfe Essay

AT the heart of every well-made work of art—no matter how dark or disturbing it may be—is an act of praise. In Mark Jarman’s review of Elaine Scarry’s On Beauty and Being Just in this issue he recounts Scarry’s contention that beauty tends to call forth, or beget, more beauty. The beauty of a face,…

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Shouts and Whispers

By Gregory Wolfe Essay

HAVING been a participant in any number of roundtables and panels on the state of religion in America, and in particular the relationship between faith and culture, I’ve grown accustomed to hearing my conservative colleagues argue that contemporary writers of faith are flabby compared to the more muscular writers of the early and mid-twentieth century.…

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Picturing the Passion

By Gregory Wolfe Essay

NOW THAT Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ has reached thousands of screens around the world and the frenzy of editorializing, pre- and post-release, has died down, two of the early questions about the film have been answered. Once the film entered the public domain, most of the fears about whether the film was…

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Kermes Red

By Melissa Range Poetry

Called crimson, called vermilion—“little worm” in both the Persian and the Latin, red eggs for the carmine dye, the insect’s brood crushed stillborn from her dried body, aswarm in a bath of oak ash lye and alum to form the pigment the Germans called Saint John’s blood— the saint who picked brittle locusts for food,…

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New Year, Good Work

By John Terpstra Poetry

The tools of the trade lay scattered on the floor below the altar, migrating to its surface (protected under plywood and a cloth tarp) only after the first few days, when the fine mist of wood dust that settled over the pews and furnishings helped us to feel more at ease in this space now…

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Mixed Company

By Brett Foster Poetry

Mark 2 Meaning, not the fey name of a coffee shop cheekily named, but me and the sinners (not “mixed” as in unlike things commingling, but rather the “meh” of our behaviors or consistent confusions, contradictions like breaking news ongoing, over and over with little new to report…) as I was saying, me and sinners…

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