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Keeping the Baby

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Hollywood often says that movies reflect the culture. That’s mostly a lie, I suspect. Rather, they reflect what will sell. Or more likely, what the producer’s think will sell. Or even more likely, what the producers want to sell. I mean, how many producers perform Margaret Mead field surveys of the “culture” under some soul-bound…

Needing the Building

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I can’t imagine anything potentially more tedious, in an election year that is already interminable, than for someone to start bringing up—yet again—September 11. (Joe Biden on Rudy Giuliani: “There’s only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun, a verb, and 9/11.”) But a recent incident with our almost-four year old son served,…

The First Pitch

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I can recall the first time that I heard ‘classical’ music. My mother had just retrieved the long disabled record player back from the repair shop and put on an LP to test it out. For a kid of seven or eight, the novelty of the thing must have brought me into the room to…

Braving the Field

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Choice: True Stories of Birth, Contraception, Infertility, Adoption, Single Parenthood, and Abortion. Ed. by Karen E. Bender and Nina de Gramont. I picked up Choice, an anthology of women’s stories of infertility, adoption, and abortion, while roaming a bookstore on Christmas Eve. Ever since a college course in reproductive ethics led me to convert from…

Picket Line in Babylon

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I have to admit: I would love to see the Oscars cancelled. Not for the power trip that we, the lowly scribes of the Writers Guild, brought Hollywood to its knees; I would be just as happy, if not more so, to see a union of caterers or make-up artists do the same. Nor for…

Robinson and Me

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“Here where the wind is always north-north-east And children learn to walk on frozen toes…” From “New England,” by Edwin Arlington Robinson Edwin Arlington Robinson grew up in Gardiner, Maine; I live a couple of blocks from his house, which still stands. Nothing much changes here. The brook that ran beside Robinson’s childhood bedroom now…

Auden, God, & Art

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I’m always a few months behind in my magazine reading, so it was only recently at breakfast that I opened the December 7, 2007 issue of The New York Review of Books to Edward Mendelson’s review-essay, “Auden and God.” Mendelson, who is Auden’s literary executor, reviews Arthur Kirsch’s Auden and Christianity (Yale U.P.) — praising…

Ambition and Survival: Becoming a Poet

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Christian Wiman has been praised by Twentieth-Century American Poetics as “one of the most eloquent and authoritative poetry critics of his generation.” So his first book of criticism, released late last year, is a noteworthy event. Ambition and Survival: Becoming a Poet is not only a work of critical thought, but also a seamless blending…

The Book of Buechner

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Writing down the life story of an esteemed and holy man is no easy task. Just ask Reginald, the eager and at times fawning biographer who documents the life of an uncooperative hermit in Frederick Buechner’s ninth novel, Godric. Or ask Dale Brown, who—though his subject is much more willing than Reginald’s—just might have something…

Defending The Emperor’s Children

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The charge: a weak imagination, and uneven moral reasoning. The accused: Five American novelists, writing about characters living through the terrorist attacks of September 11. Cheryl Miller’s incisive essay in this month’s issue of Commentary, “9/11 and the Novelists,” is a great sign that said intellectual journal is not succumbing to the trendy temptation of…

Good Letters

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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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