Good Letters

Bon Iver: A Little Town of People Trying to Be Good


Sacred Harp (or shape-note) singing is one of the oldest American forms of sacred music, an a cappella, social form (the “sacred harp” refers to the human voice) that results in a cavernous, exultant sound. There is no single leader of a “singing.” The singers—they might number in the hundreds at the biggest gatherings—sit or…

The Quality of Light


A sore hip. A hesitation in calling a name, finding a word. A slight but persistent difficulty now, getting the page where I can see it comfortably as I read. The quality of the light has changed somehow.

La Sagrada Familia


We considered it an act of grace that every child we saw in Barcelona was wailing.

Poetry Friday: “Glosa”


“Glosa” refers to an invented language created as a way for all the world’s speakers to understand each other.

A Blue House in a Red State


Do we draw on an underlying aquifer of values when we choose where we will live?

What Becomes of the Whale and the Worm


Anorexia is both a feat of the flesh and a mystery of the spirit. It is less about the body—far less about the body—than women’s magazines and YA television would have us think.

Children Need Stories That Tell the Truth About Life and Death


Stories that offer an easy answer to life’s sorrows may seem soothing so long as we remain privileged, cocooned, unaware of the violence of human history, but stories that leave us troubled and uncertain are the ones we can take with us when we are exiled from this narrow shelter.

Between Friends: Raymond Carver’s “Viewfinder”


Decades ago, in Orange County, California, Jennifer Hawk and Tania Runyan shared a number of high school classes but traveled in different social circles. Tania was scary-nerdy-awkward—E.T. and Laura Ingalls’ lovechild—and Jen was scary-sexy-cool—black eyeliner, skateboards, and bands Tania couldn’t pronounce. But they’ve developed a deep relationship over the years, sharing their lives and their…

Looking for Pope Joan: Meet Mirren Kessling


Mirren Kessling Mirren Kessling is a British visual artist based between London and Oxfordshire. She graduated from the Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford, in 2016 with a BFA and has subsequently shown at Modern Art Oxford and Cube Gallery London. Much of Kessling’s practice is directly or tangentially related to the story of…

The Convert’s Zeal


I intermittently check in with an online social media group interested in the reunion of the Catholic and Orthodox churches. It will seem a fringe concern to some, but I’m rarely in the peak of the bell curve when it comes to such things. The group page offers a mixed bag of links to incisive…

Good Letters


Jessica Mesman

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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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