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Poetry Friday: “Leeks”

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I came to leeks nearing middle age, and I regret the lost time I could have been feathering them into recipes. It always surprises me in late fall how my body literally asks for stews, chilis, and broths. Ok, it’s time, my body says as it drives me to the store for groceries on the first…

Artists Show Us Jesus as Refugee and Refugees as Jesus

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It has to be one of the most extraordinary Christmas trees ever imagined. Twelve feet high, glowing in brilliant oranges, this “tree” was created by artist Ben Quilty out of the lifejackets of Syrian refugee children who had safely reached the island of Lesbos on boats. For the current Christmas season, this sculpture has been…

Searching for Campfires in a Season of Darkness

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“My church and my country could use a little mercy now,As they sink into a poisoned pit it’s going to take forever to climb out.They carry the weight of the faithful who follow them down.I love my church and country, they could use some mercy now.”                  …

Material Christianity

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“Churches are the mansions of the poor,” the novelist Oscar Hijuelos stated in his 1995 paean to New York ethnic Catholicism, Mr. Ives’ Christmas. Lately, though, it seems that in many cities, the churches are now simply becoming mansions. In Washington, D.C., where I live, the gray stone church, with its sober round tower, has…

Advent: Through the Door, into the Dark

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The facades of the buildings in Vilnius, Lithuania, are captivating, with peeling paint and doors covered in colorful bursts of blue, pink, green, and golden yellow and bricks crumbling where the building and sidewalk meet and graffiti scattered all over the ancient architecture. When I visited for the first time last summer, it looked to me like a…

Poetry Friday: “Rusted Chain”

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Each element in Haven’s poem returns to the visual of childhood games, like hopscotch or tic-tac-toe. The image of boxes containing “Xs and Os” haunts the poem, creating a pattern that compartmentalizes our speaker’s reckoning with the past. This reckoning is “a tally where no one / should ever win.” The poem speaks to a…

The Prophet of Unadilla, New York

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There’s a highway that goes the strange way through New York State. It sends you out west and eventually into Pennsylvania, but not before a kind of slingshot move that starts up around Schenectady and then skitters down into the southern central part of the state. This is Interstate 88, a roughly 117 mile stretch…

When Publishers or the Public Reject You

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“Van Gogh did not sell a single painting during his lifetime, became increasingly unhinged, and shot himself at the age of thirty-seven.” So writes poet Jeanne Murray Walker in her engaging essay in the current issue of Image (#98), “Sandals on the Ground: My Pilgrimage with the Sonnet.” Walker’s sentence about Van Gogh reminds me…

Climbers and Conquerors: Reading The Ghosts of K2 and Into Thin Air on Thanksgiving

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One night after rifling through my tilting mountain of bedside books and coming up short, I sifted through my husband’s stash. I pilfered The Ghosts of K2, the library book he’d been reading about the first decades of expeditions to climb the second highest mountain in the world. While I attempted K2, my husband moved…

Now is the Perfect Time for Catholic Horror

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Of the Western faith traditions, Catholicism most strongly bears the marks of our pagan past. Sites sacred to local pagan religions were “adopted” by the church as it spread, and Pope Gregory I, circa 600, even encouraged his charges to utilize such places in the conversion effort. The Catholic panoply of saints resembles pagan polytheism,…

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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