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Good Letters

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…

A Love Supreme


Our first post-wedding-vows fight occurred somewhere between Omaha and Sioux Falls, in a sagging Paseo stuffed with all the wedding gifts that Ben couldn’t force into our U-Haul. A week earlier, we had married in my Missouri hometown; now, we were moving to his home in Montana. As our car lumbered up the snowy interstate,…

Back to Work(s)


I don’t have the time to write this. With the Writers Guild strike now over, and in its place a sudden deadline for a script, I came close to telling this blog’s editor, Greg Wolfe, that I simply couldn’t make tomorrow’s due date for this, my third post. For better or worse, I’ve never been…

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…

Good Letters


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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