Good Letters

Poetry Friday: “Poverty of Spirit”


“Blessed are the poor in spirit.” This beatitude has always puzzled me: what, I’ve wondered, does it mean to be “poor in spirit”? So I was drawn to Fleda Brown’s poem “Poverty of Spirit,” hoping it would elucidate the concept. What I found was a fascinating narrative: of the speaker letting a wagonload of gypsies…

Interview with a Zombie


Halloween costumes and decorations. If I’m a vampire, Pinterest is my garlic. Not only do I cut and paste at a first-grade level but tolerate little more than a basic jack-o-lantern or paper bat in my house. But come September, neighborhood front yards become graveyards. Styrofoam headstones with epitaphs like “I.M. Dead” and “Bone Voyage”…

The Debate About Beauty


I’ve been engaged in an ongoing wrangle with Gregory Wolfe about the status of Christian intellectuals in the public sphere. We got a bit stuck on the question of T.S. Eliot and the worthiness of New Criticism. Mr. Wolfe has helped to un-stick the conversation with a rather devastating reply to my last post. Pointing…

A Conversation with Pinckney Benedict


This post originally appeared as a web-exclusive feature accompanying Image journal issue 57. Mary Kenagy Mitchell for Image: You have a novel titled Dogs of God, and in your new story in Image, “The World, the Flesh, and the Devil,” a feral dog is one of the two main characters. What do dogs have to teach…

Glorying in Flawless Skin and God’s Love

mirror woman

Driving in the car recently, my daughter pulled down the visor in front of her and opened the mirror. Her hair was in a side ponytail draped over her right shoulder. She wore a black and white plaid beret. “I really like this hat and hair thing I have going on today.” “Yes, very cute,”…

Poetry Friday: “Hive Boxes”

hive box by paul pod on flickr

The sounds in this poem! I love its compactness and humming—its slender shape on the page, just like a tower of hive boxes. Bookended by two phrases that particularly sing—“lit hum” and “known oak”—this poem concentrates its gaze on the compelling paradoxes alive in our world, visible and audible in those very phrases. The hive…

A Conversation with John Terpstra


This interview originally appeared as a web-exclusive feature for Image issue 63. John Terpstra has been in church since before he was born. “I have heard everything there is to say about the place, for and against; both its necessity and its redundancy. Have felt it all, in my bones,” he writes. Issue 63 of…

Reading (in) Walden


What are the classics but the noblest recorded thoughts of man? They are the only oracles which are not decayed, and there are such answers to the most modern inquiry in them as Delphi and Dodona never gave.… To read well, that is, to read true books in a true spirit, is a noble exercise….…

Creative Tension in the White Imagination

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Tension Isn’t Usually Pretty A Facebook video shows a deputy sheriff getting in the face of a young black protester attempting to access the courthouse lawn in Selma, Alabama, in 1965. The young man keeps his cool, insisting their intentions are merely to pray peacefully, but the deputy isn’t interested. He just wants them to…

Traveling Through These Days of Awe


I’m in a plane ascending to 37,000 feet. How restless have I been this year? How easily distractible? Already on this flight, from the time of boarding the plane until now, I’ve jumped from e-mail to Facebook to FiveThirtyEight to Jane Hirshfield on Basho to Mishkan Hanefesh, Sanctuary of the Soul, the Reform movement’s new…

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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