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By Gregory Wolfe Essay

HAVING grown up in what I would call a rather Waspy milieu in New York’s Upper East Side, my youthful aesthetic sensibility was, to some extent, predetermined. My mother took me to see the classics of art history at the Metropolitan, but she also took me to the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim. I was surrounded by…

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Intruding Upon the Timeless

By Gregory Wolfe and Harold Fickett Essay

St. Thomas called art “reason in making.” This is a very cold and very beautiful definition, and if it is unpopular today, this is because reason has lost ground among us. As grace and nature have been separated, so imagination and reason have been separated, and this always means an end to art. The artist…

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Convergences

By Gregory Wolfe Essay

WHEN Harold and I brought out the first pilot issue of Image exactly four years ago, we knew that we had undertaken a quixotic task. The “culture wars” were then at their height. The relationship between art and religion was front page news—but only because Senator Jesse Helms and the Rev. Donald Wildmon were trading…

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Patron Saints

By Gregory Wolfe Essay

I ONCE heard a story about the late Walker Percy that seems to illustrate the plight of so many struggling artists down through the ages. Percy graduated from medical school in the 1940s but soon came down with tuberculosis and had to spend a couple years in a sanatorium. During that time he underwent a profound…

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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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Fugitive Energies

By Gregory Wolfe Essay

IN his essay, “How the West Lost Its Story,” theologian Robert W. Jenson argues that we postmoderns no longer inhabit what he calls a “narratable world.” The heart of Western civilization, he notes, has been the biblical story, which posited a coherent, dramatic narrative—a world that had a beginning, middle, and at least a vision…

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Falling Towers

By Gregory Wolfe Essay

IN the final section of The Waste Land (“What the Thunder Said”), T.S. Eliot strives to integrate two dimensions of the poem that have been running on parallel tracks: the snapshots of inner, psychic alienation (“On Margate Sands. / I can connect / Nothing with nothing”) and the critique of a decadent social order (the…

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Authorized Versions

By Gregory Wolfe

AT the height of the recent sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, a writer friend of mine told me that the whole sorry situation had her in a “white rage.” I knew exactly what she meant: like most people who have lived through these interminable revelations, I have found myself speechless with fury against…

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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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