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Good Letters

An Actor for All Seasons

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Other bloggers here at Good Letters seem to be establishing various narrative arcs—about music, fiction, etc. Well, it seems that I’m specializing in obituaries, this being my third in a row. Perhaps it’s my age, but in recent weeks I’ve felt the loss of several greats. Today I celebrate the great British actor, Paul Scofield,…

Maligned, in the Middle

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There is something wrong with the bourgeoisie, at least in American film, and there are no small or large charms that can possibly redeem the fault—discreet or otherwise. The middle class is caught in a maelstrom of pettiness, trapped in an imagined propriety, and made heir to a grubby little enterprise meant to stuff its…

The Philanthropist

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When NBC announces their prime-time schedule for the fall next month, the lineup may or may not include a show called “The Philanthropist,” on which I will be a writer if it airs. The character in question is a fortysomething Wall Street billionaire who, dissatisfied with checkbook charity, initiates his own one-man humanitarian missions from…

Ears to Hear

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Sometimes my worlds collide. I attended a concert this past weekend…a suburban orchestra conducted by a friend of mine. We hadn’t gotten together in a while and it was decided that we’d meet up after the concert for some drinks to catch up. I hadn’t realized that it was a pops concert (not my thing…

Obama, Faulkner, and the Open Wound

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“In the same spirit, on Rachel’s principles, I’d been pushed out like a blind finger, to probe a nonexistent space, a whiteboy integrating public schools which were just then being abandoned, which were becoming only rehearsals for prison. Her mistake was so beautiful, so stupid, so American.” Fortress of Solitude, Jonathan Lethem “I can no…

Beauty Will Save The World

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In Washington, DC’s Forgotten Quadrant the L’Enfant Plaza canyon brims with shapeless bureaucratic hives. It is a zone where plants die, words recycle, and paper-bloated cubes shiver like snowglobes when commuter trains pass. On a bad day, the red tape flows freely and fed lifers nap miserably. On a good day, your tax dollars are…

At the Crossroads: Science, Art, & Faith

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Given my abysmal expectations for coverage of religious matters in the mainstream news industry, it was a pleasure to read–both online and in my local newspaper!–about the 2008 Templeton Prize recipient: Polish physicist, cosmologist, philosopher and Catholic priest, Michael Heller While the story is clearly a plus for those laboring at the intersection of science…

A Generation of Byrons

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Mark Edmundson of the University of Virginia has published a fascinating article in the latest Chronicle of Higher Education, describing the current generation of students. They are an active, intelligent, vulnerable bunch: “Its members have a spectacular hunger for life and more life. They want to study, travel, make friends, make more friends, read everything…

North and South

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In Maine, people say, “If you don’t do winter, you don’t deserve summer.” But after I fell on the ice one too many times this winter, I flew south. On the plane, I read in USA Today about the recent Pew Trust U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, which noted that Northern New England and the West…

Absolution and other Poetic Blessings

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Reading Rafael Campo’s new book of poems, The Enemy (Duke UP, 2007), makes me appreciate what intriguing religious poetry can come from someone outside of conventional religious practice. Campo grew up in the Catholic church and culture of his Cuban-American community, but — according to his memoir-essay in The Poetry of Healing — he left…

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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 week gifted writers offer personal essays that make fresh connections between the world of faith and the world of art. We also publish interviews with artists who inspire and challenge us.

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