Good Letters

Equivocal Grace


When you have a well-known story about a political leader in eighteenth century England who sets out to abolish the slave trade based on his Christian convictions; and when the sub-plot involves the epiphanic conversion of the man who wrote the most influential hymn of all time, Amazing Grace; and when the screenplay of a…

Super Swarm


You were probably a better citizen than I was and watched the final Clinton/Obama debate before last Tuesday’s primaries in Ohio and Texas. I meant to, at least, and then got stuck in a Mega Disasters segment on the History Channel, entitled “Super Swarm.” Its subject? Locusts. Its object? Me. Viewers or victims, sometimes it’s…

Face to the Lite


Recently, I’ve been one of those half-witted people easily caught at her uncensored best or worst. Illness, grief, family chaos, and other calamities have descended, and they have scrambled my brain. In this time, I’ve vacillated between an appetite for things that are beautiful and things that are, well, People magazine worthy. It’s reminded me…

Resonant Silence


“Desperately Seeking Silence” is the title of an intriguing essay in the current issue of Cross Currents (Fall, 2007). The author, Brett Esaki, who identifies himself as a member of the Hip-hop generation, argues that the noise we hear in youth culture’s art forms is actually creating a meditative space of silence for those who…



For the past two weeks now, I have been mulling over my pledge for this entry to discuss three recent major novels that I liked (and in the case of two, loved), but which also illustrate the narrative laziness that seems to characterize a lot of contemporary fiction. In case you’ve been racked with curiosity,…

Our Bodies, Our Selves?


“We do know that Man, from fear or affection, has always graved His dead.” W H Auden Bodies…The Exhibition has come to Cincinnati, along with its usual train of controversy. Ever since the German anatomist, Gunther von Hagens, began marketing his plastination process for permanently preserving corpses, his work has attracted fierce criticism and equally…

That is the Question


In the final moments of the German film, The Lives of Others, the former Communist Minister of Culture, Bruno Hempf, makes a provocative speech to the playwright Georg Dreyman. (Hempf had bugged Dreyman’s apartment back during the bad old days.) “You’ve not written since the Wall fell?” Hempf asks. “That’s not good. After all our…

Conservative Elegies


Within just a few weeks of each other, America has lost two of its finest sons—William F. Buckley, Jr. and E. Victor Milione—both seminal figures in the modern revival of political and intellectual conservatism. It may seem odd that in a blog devoted to the relationship between art and faith that I would choose to…

On The Wire


“They’re dead where it doesn’t count,” says Fletcher, a newspaperman, in an episode of the current and last season of HBO’s The Wire, which I saw recently. I don’t subscribe to HBO, so I was watching at a friend’s. And I was jumping ahead; since discovering the series on Netflix six months ago, I’ve spent…

Blues and Black Snakes


Maybe the only way to make films set in places that people have too precise an idea about is to indulge that idea, make it even more precise, to the point where it becomes a caricature of itself. In other words, go ahead and give them what they expect, so that something larger and more…

The Image Blog

Jessica Mesman

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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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