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Weyes Blood: The Uncanny Universe of Songwriter Natalie Mering

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In Flannery O’Connor’s 1952 debut novel Wise Blood, an itinerant World War II veteran named Hazel Motes is determined to live a life without belief. He’s a preacher, but he preaches the “Holy Church of Christ Without Christ.”  Yet, for all Motes’s renouncing, Christ remains. He “moves from tree to tree in the back of…

Earthbound Hymn

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My daughter is the star of her first music festival: she is nine months old, pink cheeked and fat. We’ve dressed her in a cotton tank-top, a screenprint of a kitten wearing a flower crown. It’s almost too cute, but this is a strategy: I’m hoping that if she’s fussy, festival-goers will find the baby…

Poetry Friday: Reflection upon Psalm 121

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My husband and I pray together after breakfast and after dinner, using The Liturgy of the Hours (a version of the former breviary used by Catholic priests but, after Vatican II, made available to the laity). Each Morning and Evening Prayer includes two psalms. Psalm 121 is read on one Friday evening every four weeks.…

Our Common Memory

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The verbal dustup between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and journalist Ta-Nahesi Coates that flashed across the country’s television and computer screens last month has faded into blogospheric obscurity, with what passes for national discourse having long since moved on to fresher nodes of rancor and resentment. The occasion, you may recall, was a US…

What Poetry Can Teach Us About Parenting in the Age of Trump

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I’ve been working on an essay on another subject for weeks now, taking notes about poetry and desire, desire and the search for God. But whenever I sit down to write, all I can think about are concentration camps. It happens every night when I get in bed, too. I get under the covers, my body begins to…

Asperges

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Martha Serpas’s poem “Asperges” is a procession of what seems ordinary: summer rain falling like holy water on the altar of a hospital door, water washing a new-born baby in a nurse’s sink, the surprise of getting “dolloped in the eye and (laughing) away / the shame of believing / in any kind of redemptive…

Truly, a Eucharist

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Years ago, I was riding around the ragged edges of a Washington, D.C., suburb with my brother-in-law, who’s retired now, but who was a real-estate appraiser. We were on a street of modest, slightly-crumbling brick colonials, not unlike the one in which I would eventually live. “Oh, those,” he said, gesturing his arm out the…

Where’s The Healing Temple? The Luminous Being?

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The first gift: a stone that nests in my palm. Turned by sea until the sea delivered it to shore, this oblong, ash-colored stone I lifted, held, and slid into my pocket. A year ago, I took it from Whidbey Island. This offering, this theft. I keep it now by my meditation bench and stack…

Three Metaphors and a Curse on Dostoevsky

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The hip-hop theologian, the secular theologian, and the poet/executive were deep into a podcast conversation about Childish Gambino’s “This is America.” This was only a couple weeks after the video’s release, which meant we were already forgetting about it under the barrage of other news, but I wanted to hear what African Americans who were…

Separation and Longing: Meet Tobaron Waxman

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Tobaron Waxman is a Canadian artist, curator, performer, singer and archivist currently traveling around Eastern Europe. Waxman is transgender and a former Orthodox Jew–identities that would seem to be in conflict when one considers the immutable gender binary that shapes the lives, experiences and actions of most practicing Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities. Waxman’s work…

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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 week gifted writers offer personal essays that make fresh connections between the world of faith and the world of art. We also publish interviews with artists who inspire and challenge us.

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