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A Conversation with Van Gessel

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Van Gessel has been Shūsaku Endō’s primary English translator since the 1970s. He has translated eight of his novels and worked as a consultant on Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of Silence. I asked him about the previously untranslated Endō story in Image issue 92, and about what Endō’s work has to say to the West. Image:…

Alleluia for the Easter Season

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candles spilled on a table in the dusk.

I used to find Easter a letdown. Lent is so full of the self-improvement activities of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. I typically add a midday prayer to my usual Morning and Evening Prayer. I decide what organizations I want to give alms to: a different one each week of Lent. And fasting: not from food…

Inventing the Kingdom, Part 2

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diploria strigosa fossil by james st john on flickr

This post, which appears as the Editorial Statement in Image issue 92, is continued from yesterday. “I consider myself a sort of portrait artist,” Carrère says, and his other books bear this out, but in The Kingdom most of the best portraits are of the bit players. Carrère’s rendering of Saint Paul, on the other hand,…

Inventing the Kingdom, Part 1

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This post appears as the Editorial Statement in Image issue 92. When The Kingdom landed on my desk with a thud, I could tell that it would pose a challenge—that it would be a book I had to contend with. In addition to being a substantial tome, it comes with the cultural imprimatur conveyed by its…

Poetry Friday: “The Spirit of Promise”

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image of an individual in a church looking upwards and maybe taking a photo; her back is to the camera.

Memories can make good material for poetry. In “The Spirit of Promise,” Daniel Donaghy is remembering his Catholic childhood in the particular church that he’s now re-visiting. At first the poet’s memories are negative: “my grade-school nuns shaking // their heads at me”; the priest “putting down his Chesterfield / to tell me how many…

Trump and The Borgias: The Stuff of Great TV

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Five hundred years from now our present political confusions, conflicts, and outrages will become the stuff of high melodrama. It’s hard to imagine that anyone would look back on this period of American history as entertainment, but they’re bound to, I expect. Not Singin’ in the Rain entertainment, but certainly something like Wall Street or…

The Sound of Scorsese’s Silence

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It’s been nearly a month since I finally saw Scorsese’s Silence, and what I remember most is the cry of cicadas and how crucial sound is to the film’s translation of Shūsaku Endō’s novel. The cicadas’ song is loud, and in Silence, they sound a sorrowful note. We hear the cicadas and the crickets before…

Tweeting My Theology

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When I went to seminary, there was concern. Friends whispered. Had I gone rogue? Or worse: been “saved”? Would I suddenly start dropping things like washed in the blood into regular conversation? Admittedly, the calling to serve the church was sudden and powerful, like lightning. I had always considered myself a Christian, even if I…

The Madding Crowd

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Why is it that we so often gain courage or cowardice to do bad from other members of a group, but seldom the courage to do good? Why is it that the herd instinct kicks in mostly when the object is to tear something to shreds, like beasts? Or when we’re put in fear by…

Poetry Friday: “Rain”

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The emotional landscape of motherhood can often be hard to describe and is underrepresented in genres such as poetry. As a poet and mother of a two-year old with a new baby on the way, I appreciated “Rain” by Tara Bray and found it very instructive on several levels. In this candid poem, a “family…

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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