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Poetry Friday: “Being the Song”

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If you write poetry, odds are you don’t expect your work to achieve acclaim like that of a Robert Frost or a Mary Oliver. You consider yourself most fortunate if, now and then, you find a publisher and an audience who connect with your sensibility. There are moments, many of them, when you question why…

Halos and Other Important Things

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In second grade my mom put me in an art class taught by a fluffy-haired blonde who took us to a museum to sketch a Madonna with child. Before we began, our teacher asked us what we noticed about the painting. I raised my hand. “She has a golden crown.” “It’s a halo, not a…

Adventures in Praying with Scripture

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How did I first hear of lectio divina? It must have been from the monks at the Trappist Abbey near my home, who engage daily in this ancient practice of “holy reading”: the prayerful reading of Scripture, just a short passage at a time. This is my guess, because I at my second meeting with…

Occasions of Grace

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My old friend Gina, one of the loveliest ladies I know, lived for years with her family in a large co-op apartment overlooking Riverside Drive in New York City. The building, on its lower floors, was like a wedding cake swathed in white icing, but once you made it through the dark Gothic lobby and…

Trafficking in Fear

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I am chatting with a woman in a clothing store as our conversation moves from friendly small talk to the anxiety of raising children. My conversation partner, who is a few parenting years ahead of me, is lamenting dangers that now seem rampant for children, ones her preteen will face the closer she gets to…

Poetry Friday: “God Reads the Poem of the World with Interest”

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How to image good and evil? It’s hard to do in a way that astounds us afresh with how they penetrate every aspect of our lives. Yet Jeanne Murray Walker manages to do this in “God Reads the Poem of the World with Interest.” Evil is terrifyingly concrete: men setting a boy’s mother on fire…

Haunted by Phantom Limbs

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One such patient, under my care, describes how he must “wake up” his phantom in the mornings: first he flexes the thigh-stump towards him, and then he slaps it sharply—“like a bay’s bottom”—several times. On the fifth or sixth slap the phantom suddenly shoots forth, rekindled, fulgurated, by the peripheral stimulus. —Oliver Sacks, The Man Who Mistook…

I Will Sing Your Praise

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For a few years in the late 1990s, early 2000s, I brought a book of poetry with me whenever I went to synagogue for Shabbat morning services. After I was settled into my pew, I’d discreetly slip the book out of my tallis (prayer shawl) bag, tuck the thin volume of poetry inside the thick…

Tyler Childers’s Purgatory and Trump Country

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From Chris Stapleton’s rootsy repurposing of Nashville pop-country to Sturgill Simpson’s “metamodern” new-Outlaw nihilism, the past few years have seen Kentucky-born artists setting the agenda for a different kind of country music—not so much a complete break with the past as a series of unpredictable mash-ups of what’s come before. Simpson protégé Tyler Childers is…

Love Hurts in Phantom Thread

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My favorite film from last year is a farce. Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread functions like a twisted screwball comedy: Its momentum is the back-and-forth seeking of the upper hand in the relationship between Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) and Alma (Vicky Krieps). But narrative momentum does not always move the viewer. Anderson’s films can be…

Image’s Daily Blog

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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