Good Letters

Did Marla Really Paint That? Does it Matter?


Do you buy modern art? No, I’m not asking if you purchase contemporary artwork. I’m asking: Do you buy modernism as a legitimate form of artistic expression? Or do you think those who spend a fortune on Jackson Pollock canvases have been duped? Amir Bar-Lev’s documentary My Kid Could Paint That raises that question, and…

The State of Catholic Letters, Part IV: Generations Lost…and Found


Continued from yesterday. As I wrap up this series on the state of Catholic letters, I’d like to make a few final distinctions and then name some of the writers I think should be more widely known and discussed within the Church in North America. I’ve thrown down what I think is a friendly, if…

The State of Catholic Letters, Part III: The Whiskey Priest Meets Charming Billy


Note: For those of you wondering when the rest of the Good Letters team will get a chance to post again, be assured: they’ll be back soon. This little series of mine is giving them a wee break (and me a chance to catch up a little on my post-count). In the last two posts…

The State of Catholic Letters, Part II: Shouts or Whispers?


In my last post I opened up one of those proverbial cans of worms: the question of whether or not something called “Catholic fiction”—or perhaps any sort of creative writing by Catholics—is alive and well, or not. I admit it: in that post I came out swinging. One Catholic blogger thought I went too far:…

The State of Catholic Letters, Part I: Déjà vu All Over Again


In the conservative Catholic press—and blogosphere—there has been much harrumphing about the decline and fall of Catholic letters. Of course, the question of whether Catholic writing is alive, much less well, is really just another skirmish in the larger culture wars—perpetuated largely by those with ideological axes to grind. I am not so naïve as…

Beauty’s Extravagant Generosity


My husband George Dardess & I are writing a book together on beauty. Specifically on beauty as core to Christian faith and to Muslim faith—and to the arts inspired by each of these faiths. George’s special interest for over a decade has been Muslim-Christian relations, mine has been spirituality and the arts; so teaming up…

I Want My God TV


It’s a curious thing, watching a televised revival meeting—that ever controversial offspring of Pentecost—brought to you live in the confines of your own home. Or it was anyway, until our DirecTV went on the fritz earlier this summer, depriving me of God TV’s nightly coverage of the “Florida Outpouring” in Lakeland, which has now taken…

In All Their Glory


There are times when an interpretation cannot match the thing itself, and others when the mere attempt will prove an embarrassment. No elegy, however triumphant, can equal the event it celebrates. To have fought on St. Crispin’s is greater than to sing of it, as even the bard would concede. In 1976, Albert and David…

Maybe Google Isn’t Making Us Stupid


When I was an eighth grader at a private academy in Mississippi (established 1969) and in the process of applying to a worldly, very progressive boarding school up North, I wrote my application essay on “the positive benefits of watching television for children.” As best as I can remember, my argument centered on television’s capacity…

The Gift of Walls, Doors, and Reticence


“When the road of excess has reached the palace of wisdom, it is a healed wound, a long scar.” —Wendell Berry For the past half-century, the United States has built its domestic economy on the assumption that cheap oil was as inexhaustible as the oceans. It is now clear to all but the most blindered…

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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 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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