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John Dillenberger, RIP

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When I first contacted John Dillenberger I was not quite thirty years old and he was not quite seventy. He was a former seminary president and distinguished theologian, with nearly a dozen books to his credit. I was…a guy who wanted to start a journal. I sent off a letter to Dillenberger with a certain…

Not Going Gentle: Another Look at “There Will Be Blood”

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After reading reviews for Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood, I became frustrated. The consensus about its central character, Daniel Plainview, was that he was “a great oversize monster who hates all men including therefore himself” (Roger Ebert). My problem? Watching the film, I had related to Daniel. Anderson, who compares Daniel to Dracula,…

“The Lot Marked Out for Me is My Delight” – Or Is It?

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How does poetry speak for brokenness, for pained desire, for grief? A couple poems in the current issue of Image raise this question for me: B.H. Fairchild’s dramatic monologue, “Frieda Pushnik” and Robert Cording’s cycle “Four Prayers.” § Fairchild’s speaker is the “Armless, Legless Girl Wonder”—as her obituary in 2000 put it—who made her living…

Carry Me

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Of late, I’ve been reading some works at the intersection of theology and the impaired body. As a physician trying to live as a Christian, that’s where I spend much of my professional time. While I treasure idealized portrayals of the human figure in classical and Italian Renaissance art, I – like you, perhaps –…

Keeping the Baby

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Hollywood often says that movies reflect the culture. That’s mostly a lie, I suspect. Rather, they reflect what will sell. Or more likely, what the producer’s think will sell. Or even more likely, what the producers want to sell. I mean, how many producers perform Margaret Mead field surveys of the “culture” under some soul-bound…

Needing the Building

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I can’t imagine anything potentially more tedious, in an election year that is already interminable, than for someone to start bringing up—yet again—September 11. (Joe Biden on Rudy Giuliani: “There’s only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun, a verb, and 9/11.”) But a recent incident with our almost-four year old son served,…

The First Pitch

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I can recall the first time that I heard ‘classical’ music. My mother had just retrieved the long disabled record player back from the repair shop and put on an LP to test it out. For a kid of seven or eight, the novelty of the thing must have brought me into the room to…

Braving the Field

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Choice: True Stories of Birth, Contraception, Infertility, Adoption, Single Parenthood, and Abortion. Ed. by Karen E. Bender and Nina de Gramont. I picked up Choice, an anthology of women’s stories of infertility, adoption, and abortion, while roaming a bookstore on Christmas Eve. Ever since a college course in reproductive ethics led me to convert from…

Picket Line in Babylon

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I have to admit: I would love to see the Oscars cancelled. Not for the power trip that we, the lowly scribes of the Writers Guild, brought Hollywood to its knees; I would be just as happy, if not more so, to see a union of caterers or make-up artists do the same. Nor for…

Robinson and Me

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“Here where the wind is always north-north-east And children learn to walk on frozen toes…” From “New England,” by Edwin Arlington Robinson Edwin Arlington Robinson grew up in Gardiner, Maine; I live a couple of blocks from his house, which still stands. Nothing much changes here. The brook that ran beside Robinson’s childhood bedroom now…

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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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