Good Letters

Auf Wiedersehen, Karl!


Recently, I was home sick catching up on my reading. Flipping through an accumulation of The Economist magazines, I began in the back with the obituaries…a singular and fascinating specialty of this publication. What greeted me was the obituary of German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, who died December 5 at the age of 79. Ironically, I…

Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty


Greg Wolfe’s editorial in Image issue 56 makes a convincing case for beauty, the stepchild in the classic trio of transcendentals: truth, beauty, and goodness. I’d like to throw into the conversation a lunchtime chat I had last summer at Image’s Glen Workshop — with sculptor Ginger Geyer, who was on the faculty that year. Ginger’s porcelain…

I am a Child of the Emperor


In The Battle of the Books, Swift writes that “Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody’s face but their own.” Self-deception isn’t always that easy, however. Sometimes the reflection on the glass is too familiar to ignore. I’m thankful, then, that as far as satirists go, Claire Messud is as…

Doctor Stories


“We are surprised if the doctor, by stealing some hours from his daily avocations, attains even moderate eminence in the path of literature.” –Edward Berdoe Incredulity, boredom, a patronizing “isn’t that nice”: these are a few of the responses I receive when folks in or out of the medical profession learn I write in my…

The Violent Bear It Away


It was late in the evening on Superbowl Sunday. Our son was already asleep and we were in bed, the blue light of our one small television casting a milky glow about the room. Burrowed under the covers, eyes half-closed, I reminded my husband, who goes to work in the middle of the night, that…

The Prodigal Daughter


The definition of a good memoir, like St. Paul’s famous definition of love, is perhaps better fleshed out in considering what it does not do than what it does. A good memoir, for example, does not ignore the harsh truths of the past, but neither does it delight in placing blame; it does not enlarge…

Elmore Leonard, Knight Errantry, and the Super Bowl


Robert Benchley once said that there are two kind of people in the world: Those who divide the world in two kinds of people, and those who don’t. I’m more prone to trilogies myself. The world is a set of triangles; not railroad tracks. Therefore, I start with Super Bowl XLII. As you must know,…

Turning Eli Stones into Bread


Kudos to ABC for standing by its pilot episode of Eli Stone, in which a young defense attorney, suddenly prone to visions of George Michael singing “Faith” in his home and workplace, ends up representing the plaintiff, a mother who claims the mercury-based preservative in a vaccine caused autism in her son. The American Academy…

Priest Shortage


I recently reread one of my mother’s books—Mr. Blue, by Myles Connolly, which was first published in 1928. It is a tale of a latter day St. Francis, Mr. Blue, who introduces the narrator to the joy of the Divine. Mr. Blue lives on rooftops and flies kites. On this reading, I found him fey,…

John Dillenberger, RIP


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…

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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