Good Letters

Meaning and Memory


I made a trip to DC a couple of weeks ago. A co-worker told me she was going to go with some business colleagues to Wolf Trap for a concert. Since I am known by a few folks in the company as one of those “music types,” she asked if I wanted to join them…

The Fate of Patroclus


About eight years ago, my brother Craig allowed me to borrow his new Honda Civic, which he had named Xanthus in honor of Achilles’ immortal horse in The Iliad. “Beware the fate of Patroclus,” he warned, reluctantly handing me the keys. Yes, Craig is a tiny bit strange. But he’s Southern, and we encourage that.…

What We Talk About When We Talk About Race


“As a people, we have been tolled farther and farther away from the facts of what we have done by the romanticizers, whose bait is nothing more than the wishful insinuation that we have done no harm.” —Wendell Berry I suppose if anyone’s to read what follows, I should up my bona-fides. I’ve struggled—if a…

The Stranger at the Door


The longer you live in a small town, the more you see, so I like to walk. On one of my longer routes, I trek past the Cobbossee Stream, where I often see immature bald eagles, looking for breakfast. After the steep incline of Winter Street, I cut through a Civil War-era cemetery, filled with…

Ode to a Bunker-Busting Muslim


If you read my last post about Christian reticence in the workplace, you should know that not only have I had to wince a bit in hindsight at its full-frontal approach—despite my best efforts to pre-empt this in the writing itself—but even better, I was “outed” by my co-workers in the very midst of finishing…

Handicapping Your Mind, Part 2: Tobias Wolff


Two conversations come to mind when I think about the relationship between art and life. The first one occurred some Sunday afternoon during adolescence, after Mass with a friend named Tim. Tim and I were the self-appointed rebels in our Confirmation class, courageously informing our instructor about the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the ubiquitous use…

Distrust This


Fond of firearms as I am, liking war movies as I do, and following Mark Wahlberg’s transformation from rapper to thespian with awe (as who could help but be), I rented Shooter not long back. There I beheld the latest depiction of a pervasive attitude in modern Western culture, one that applies to all institutions,…

Good Art, Bad Art, Faith and Doubt


As America magazine’s June 23-30 issue pointed out, it was extraordinary to find the New Yorker’s summer fiction issue (June 9 & 16) devoted so prominently to God, including a series of short reflections collectively entitled “Faith and Doubt.” Predictably, given its fundamental skepticism about religious matters, the New Yorker wouldn’t be able to conceive…

Betraying the Story


One night during the summer of 1967, the Ku Klux Klan burned a cross in the front yard of my uncle’s house in Louisiana. Like my father, my Uncle Paul was a dentist, and on the night that the cross was lit, he was not actually at home, but had gone back downtown to his…

Sleepless in the City


I can’t sleep in hotel rooms. The fluorescent lights, the vent’s false breeze, the sealed-off city behind its funeral parlor curtains—all of it triggers a feeling of body-lessness, a sense that every other pulse available to me is inhuman. Lonesome nights on work trips always end with me sprawled across a giant bed, contemplating the…

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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