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The Erasmus Option, Part 1

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Picture The Old Humanist standing at his desk. The year is 1533. Desiderius Erasmus is living in Freiburg, as he says to a friend, “like a snail in its shell.” It’s another temporary stop on his long, peripatetic march through northern Europe, as he seeks to avoid persecution at the hands of Reformers and Catholics…

Fit for Transformation

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When my sister first told me about Orangetheory Fitness, I was intrigued. “You’d probably dig it,” she said. “It’s like personal training, but in a group.” Admittedly, it did sound like something I would like. But I was the heaviest I’d ever been and had spent the last three years committing myself to a level…

The Best in Bedtime Reading

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A therapist I once went to for help with insomnia advised me: “Stop reading a novel at bedtime; it stimulates the mind.” When I recounted this to my wise sister who knows me well, she protested: “No! A novel takes you out of yourself; that’s just what you want before trying to go to sleep.”…

Poetry Friday: “The Name of God”

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In Scripture, “the name of God” equals “the power of God.” Think of Jesus saying, in John’s Gospel, “I will do whatever you ask in my name” (14: 13-14). What Anya Silver does in this poem is invent a litany of extraordinary images for her personal relation to the name of God. She longs to…

How To Negate Hate

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Recently I gave a talk to the freshman at a local college on the theme of negating hate. Their common reading this year was All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque’s novel set in World War I. The protagonist is a young soldier named Paul Baumer. A German. Our enemy in that war.…

Looking for Release

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This post originally appeared at Good Letters on May 9, 2012. Dayne, my mother’s ex-boyfriend, spent his childhood in Tennessee, where he got his southern drawl and where his father, who drank, would stomp through the house and sweep his long arm across the crowded kitchen counter smashing greasy dishes onto the linoleum. It was…

Silent Mysteries

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Lately, it seems, everyone is talking about silence—how they have less of it, how they wish they had more of it, how our Twittering lives have eaten away at some fundamental interior space that we didn’t even know was fragile to begin with. And the conversation about silence inspires its own cottage industry. You can…

The Arm, the Girl, and the Guard

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In a long room with three doorways in Tokyo’s National Museum of Modern Art, somewhere in the humming midgut of the building, hangs an oil painting of a man’s arm holding a hammer above a length of chain. In front of the painting about three paces away is a twenty-two-year-old girl (her wording) who’s spent…

Poetry Friday: “The Anxiety Offices”

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Are any of us sleeping much lately? With such grief in the world right now, I suspect anxiety keeps a lot of us awake nights. What a rosary of sound and image Lisa Russ Spaar gives us to work through with this poem, beginning in the early evening of a sleepless night and ending with…

Cinematic Longings for Sophia in mother! and Blade Runner 2049

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Two of our most compelling film directors working in the Hollywood studio system—Darren Aronofsky and Denis Villeneuve—recently released startling movies, and the movies have obvious differences. Aronofsky’s mother! is an original psychological horror film allegorizing in unorthodox ways the Biblical mythology. Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 is a science fiction sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 classic,…

Image’s Daily Blog

For the humanists of the Renaissance, literature mattered because it was concrete and experiential—it grounded ideas in people’s lives. Their name for this kind of writing was bonae litterae, a phrase we’ve borrowed as the title for our blog. Every weekday, one of the gifted writers on our blogging team will offer a personal essay that makes a fresh connection between the world of faith and the world of daily life, spanning the gap between theology and experience and giving language a human shape.

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