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What I Write About When I Write About Music and Religion

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I have been writing about the intersection of pop music and religion for as long as I can remember. As I teenager, I made four issues of a zine (never published outside an old Macintosh computer) called Toxic Chalk, which balanced my love of rocking out with a lot of complaining about Christian music. I’m…

No Earth, No Hope

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Note: If you are an absolute newcomer to the current Battlestar Galactica TV series and think you might want to catch up, this post contains spoilers. I wonder if anyone has said that the Sci-Fi Channel’s timing was off when it decided to air the first episode of the last season (or rather, half-season) of…

Precious Little

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“If life has no standing as mystery or miracle or gift, then what signifies the difference between it and death?”                                                                                                                   —Wendell Berry The evening of December 29 settled clear and cold, and my family was out in it, skiing on an Appalachian mountainside. As my wife and I rode the chairlift, the merest sliver…

Strangers in the Air

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His name was Peter, and he carried an L.L. Bean canvas bag, monogrammed and trimmed in forest green. It was December 28, 1988, and I noticed him at the gate. Preppy, but kind of cute. And then we boarded, and he took the seat next to mine. American Airlines; JFK to SFO; a DC-10, which…

Writing on the Wall

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January marks the anniversary of several family catastrophes. I keep trying to laugh about it, to applaud the humor of the general bloodletting. The impulse to laugh when things are really bad is a congenital defect—or a Darwinian asset, depending on how you look at it. My parents started it, and my three sisters and…

Facebook and Eternity

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“You’ve got to be kidding me,” is more or less what I told my husband when he proposed creating me an account on Facebook. If you have even less experience than I with the now ubiquitous “social networking utility,” Facebook is a website where you can add brief diary entries, family and party pictures to…

We Count Those Blessed Who Have Endured (Songs from 2008)

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With this post we welcome another contributor to Good Letters. Joel will be focusing mostly on music. One thing that I learned in 2008 is that everything is going to keep changing, all the time, and is always going to be not what it was last year. And what I want from songs now is…

Five Favorite Essays of 2008

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Inspired by a similar tradition in David Brooks’ New York Times column (but with fewer pretensions to comprehensiveness—I am calling them favorites, not the most important or influential), here is a list of five essays or reviews that I have read, on the internet, which I think are worth printing out to read and ponder…

Ritz, Ritual, and the Evangelical Expatriate

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“Still all this beauty bows my head down And it also props me up.” —Reva Williams Most of my Boston friends and I share similar religious backgrounds. To varying degrees, we each consider ourselves expatriates of a sort from mainline Evangelicalism. We were raised by parents who came into their own in the iconoclastic 1970s,…

Domestic Bliss and the Casual Observer

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It’s 5:30 p.m. and I’m in my pajamas making stir-fry out of the decaying contents of my fridge while a miserably tired toddler clings to my leg and whines. I’ve suffered from inexplicable muscle cramping all day. I’m late with at least three freelance assignments. My husband is already an hour late and I’ve been…

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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