Good Letters

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…

My Catcher in the Rye


Maybe it’s because my students and I are discussing Holden Caulfield this week—this sweet kid who genuinely wanted to know where the ducks went in winter. Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading Salinger and teaching once again at a rigorous prep school. Maybe it’s because I’ve just moved back home to Mississippi and it’s as…

The Horizon Stops Here


My uncle died early this month. He and I were not close, and yet he was the last of his generation in my branch of the family. The burial was a brief affair. Four of us sat on folding chairs that had been covered in something resembling green fur, under a tent in 95-degree heat,…

Life, Death, Bread, Host


The birds’ wings shake out the smell of the men who sleep in the park: the smell of meat, sweat, and bread. The birds lift up and fly away as I ride my bike through the park’s courtyard, and in the trees a stone Cardinal sits on a throne, staring down at the ground where…

Who’s the Greatest One of All?


I am skeptical of any attempt to gauge the greatness of a literary artist when the criteria being considered are not directly related to literature. The recent passing of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn has provided some fodder for skepticism. Because of “the effect that he has had on history,” David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, believes…

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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