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Good Letters

What Becomes of the Whale and the Worm


Anorexia is both a feat of the flesh and a mystery of the spirit. It is less about the body—far less about the body—than women’s magazines and YA television would have us think.

Children Need Stories That Tell the Truth About Life and Death


Stories that offer an easy answer to life’s sorrows may seem soothing so long as we remain privileged, cocooned, unaware of the violence of human history, but stories that leave us troubled and uncertain are the ones we can take with us when we are exiled from this narrow shelter.

Between Friends: Raymond Carver’s “Viewfinder”


Decades ago, in Orange County, California, Jennifer Hawk and Tania Runyan shared a number of high school classes but traveled in different social circles. Tania was scary-nerdy-awkward—E.T. and Laura Ingalls’ lovechild—and Jen was scary-sexy-cool—black eyeliner, skateboards, and bands Tania couldn’t pronounce. But they’ve developed a deep relationship over the years, sharing their lives and their…

Looking for Pope Joan: Meet Mirren Kessling


Mirren Kessling Mirren Kessling is a British visual artist based between London and Oxfordshire. She graduated from the Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford, in 2016 with a BFA and has subsequently shown at Modern Art Oxford and Cube Gallery London. Much of Kessling’s practice is directly or tangentially related to the story of…

The Convert’s Zeal


I intermittently check in with an online social media group interested in the reunion of the Catholic and Orthodox churches. It will seem a fringe concern to some, but I’m rarely in the peak of the bell curve when it comes to such things. The group page offers a mixed bag of links to incisive…

Gilding Mortality


At first sight, the gallery feels stark. When I turned the corner at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts and saw All That Glitters, a solo show by Mandy Cano Villalobos, that was my first impression from a distance: a sterile chill. More shadow than glow; more somber than glitter.   But as I inched…

Bound by a Common Anguish: D.L. Mayfield Interviews Casey Cep


Casey N. Cep is a writer whose work tends towards thoughtfulness, with an eye for stories that are haunted by faith. Her work appears often in The New Yorker and The New York Times, and her first book, Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee was recently published by Knopf. Here,…

Little Girls


It wasn’t until I read about the school uniforms that I thought the Jeffrey Epstein case had anything to do with me. The story broke right before we went on our too-short summer vacation to the borrowed house overlooking the blue Atlantic. There, I sat on the deck with my laptop and read all the…

Toni Morrison Wrote the Novel That Will Help America Heal


One of America’s most prophetic artistic voices has left us. I am speaking, of course, of the Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning novelist Toni Morrison’s passing last week at the age of 88 years. She was one of the greatest, if not the greatest, living American writers. And she is the writer whose voice is…

Praying with the Body


It happens only once a year, during the High Holidays: a full prostration, human body to the floor. In my congregation, the rabbi, and sometimes the guest cantor hired for the High Holidays, Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, each joined by two congregant-assistants, prostrate themselves fully on the bimah, the platform on which the holy…

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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