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When Art Disrupts Religion: An Interview with Philip Salim Francis

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Just released by Oxford University Press, When Art Disrupts Religion: Aesthetic Experience and the Evangelical Mind has received praise from such leading scholars as David Morgan and Randall Balmer. Image editor Gregory Wolfe recently interviewed the author, Philip Salim Francis. Image: Your book has the provocative title When Art Disrupts Religion: Aesthetic Experience and the…

This Place is an Altar

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black and white image of a large hall filled with chairs and an altar at the front, presumably a church, that is completely empty.

Pastor David—strong, sincere, and confident in his pressed shirt and polished shoes—greets me in the doorway. “This place,” he pauses, looking me in the eye, “is an altar.” He seems genuinely glad to have an American in attendance, but I am in an entirely different sort of mood. I’m in Kampala attempting to conduct research…

Praying for a Hurricane on an Ordinary Wednesday Afternoon

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painting in mostly light pink cream muted tones of a paddel0steamer in a storm on the water. the water is rimmed with blue paint, the clouds are bluish gray and purple.

  “It is easier to survive a category five hurricane than it is to get through an ordinary Wednesday afternoon.” That paraphrase of Walker Percy (from his essay, “Diagnosing the Modern Malaise”) was suggested to me by my friend Caroline Langston Jarboe. I was wondering out loud why I would give anything to have back…

Poetry Friday: “Sewing Box”

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Painting of a Girl sitting in front of a sewing machine facing a window that lets in slats of light on the girl and the burnt orange walls.

We don’t think enough—or at least I don’t—about how objects can contain memory. But Murray Bodo’s poem “Sewing Box” shows us how: in this box in which memory is literally contained. Each of the four stanzas takes us deeper into the box. At first it’s just “the busy / sewing box I’d organize on visits…

The Eye Behind the Camera: Kirsten Johnson’s Cameraperson

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When we first see the close-up of the dead bird on the ground, we wonder why. It’s only a few scenes later that we return to the site of the bird to see two young children, twin brother and sister, asking their mother and grandfather if they can go outside to bury the dead bird.…

Always Becoming

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silhouetted image of a woman standing in front of a window, mostly in dark. outside it is bright, light, and airy, inside you can only see the silhouettes of things. the windows open outwards, the image feels hopeful.

The following is adapted from an address given at the Seattle Pacific University MFA in Creative Writing commencement ceremony last month. For centuries, wise men and women of various traditions have troubled the terms being and becoming, without arriving at anything like conclusion. We affirm the beauty and joy of being—being writers, being Christians, being…

Finding My Sister in Young Adult Novels

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two people walking on a path in the woods, on the cusp of the open edge of the trees that are purple from the late dusk.

Lately all I want to read are young adult novels about sisters. Young adult (YA) lit has a simplicity that creeps up on you. It’s about falling in love and obligations to the world outside of our daily concerns. And it’s usually disturbing as hell, reflective of how, though we say we lose innocence, as…

Praying the Art of Sean Scully: The Match of Prose and Visual Art

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Black and white photo of Sean Scully from chest up. He is wearing a button up shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and is gesturing with his hand. He has dark glasses on, is bald, and has a calm expression on his face.

When I finished reading Paul Anel’s article on the chapel art of Sean Scully, in the current issue of Image (#91), I was moved to close my eyes in prayer. It wasn’t verbal prayer. It was a sitting within a sense of the sacred. Both Scully’s art and Anel’s graced account of it had drawn me…

Palm Fronds

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a palm leaf in black and white, a close up of the main stem with the fronds coming off of it, nearly centered image.

My daughter held the palm frond as if she’d never seen such a thing. I gave mine a perfunctory wave. We were both visitors, standing in the foyer of an elementary school turned church. The pastor was a friend, but in the ten minutes before a worship service—especially during Holy Week—I wasn’t going to latch…

God is a Wild Old Dog

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Drawing of a dog with its front paws off the ground. The dog is looking backwards slightly, and its tail is up.

God is a wild old dog / Someone left out on the highway —Patty Griffin “Wild Old Dog” It is the first week of spring and I sit in the small cemetery on our community property. The bench underneath me is green and mossy from the confusion of a mild winter that left us with…

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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 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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