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Good Letters

Accept the Mystery

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There’s an envelope full of cash on Larry Gopnik’s desk. He didn’t put it there. But he can guess who did. A student in Larry’s physics class has been begging him for a good grade. This money looks like a bribe. Nevertheless, when Larry goes seeking a confession, he’s given a confounding answer…. “Accept the…

Giving Thanks

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Dear Readers of Good Letters: As it is Thanksgiving Day, I thought I might take this opportunity to pop out from behind the curtain and share a few brief words with you, including a bit of news and a word of thanks. We’re now a year and a half into this literary experiment—less a blog…

Perpetual Adoration

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The other day I got an email from a high-school boyfriend, which drove me headlong into remembrance of a time in my life I’ve tried to forget. My husband is the only person I know who enjoyed high school, so I don’t harbor any delusions that my unhappiness made me unique among teenagers. In fact,…

Fire in My Bones

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The irony is lost on no one—except, of course, for Elder Beck himself. He’s in full fire-and-brimstone mode, locked into a trance-like cadence and sounding a bit like a man possessed, even as he busies himself decrying the demonic nature of rock and roll. It’s the devil’s music; it’s leading the young people astray; it’s…

The Desert City

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Until I get to the middle of the process—it’s horrific. It’s like I don’t know what I’m doing but I know how to do it, and it’s very strange. —Belgian painter Luc Tuymans, on the artistic process As I’ve noted before, I often struggle with writing, as I labor with the new life I’ve undertaken…

Caught in the Light

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“Grace fills empty spaces, but it can only enter where there is a void to receive it.” —Simone Weil For most of my adult life, I’ve been resistant to allegiance—to people, to places. The latter may seem strange, since I’ve lived in northern New England on and off since 1972. In many ways, Maine’s iron…

Never Forget

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I was twenty-three and living three blocks from the dome of the U.S. Capitol—or, as my dad soon took to calling it, “the Bull’s Eye of the Western world” —on September 11, 2001. When the plane hit the second tower, I watched the impact on a scratchy analog TV from my desk at my first…

Vacation Reading

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Last week, the New York Times carried a story about President Obama on vacation on Martha’s Vineyard. Not hard news—far from it—the story offered assembled tidbits of press coverage as reporters hung out at local bars and T-shirt shops and golf courses hoping for views of POTUS. Two tidbits in particular struck me: Obama, unlike…

Narratives of our Exiles

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My father is a therapist. This has made for an (how should I say this?), ummm, interesting life. Yes, that’s it. The word I want here is interesting. When my father wanted to provoke me growing up, he would say things like, “I’m sensing some hostility from you. Let’s explore that” or “Kelly, how does…

Washington, DC: Proud to Call It Home

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There’s one thing these days that it seems you can get everyone to agree on, whatever their political or cultural stripe: They all hate Washington, DC. One of my brothers is a stockbroker and a free-market conservative; the other is a reliably Democratic art director (who has donated to the local ACLU auction), and yet…

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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