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The Angel of History

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Angelus Novus by Paul Klee I met Angelus Novus, a Paul Klee image, through Walter Benjamin’s writings, inscribed in his verse like a ghost. Within the binding of his book, like all books, I found my way into another world, a door to Narnia that released me into twentieth century Europe. At the time, Jewish…

Holy Week: Love’s Paradox

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White Crucifixion by Marc Chagall  It helps to know where you’re going. Few of us ever do. My wife and I had taken the train to Würzburg, Germany, only to learn most of the tourist sites were closed for the day. We decided to make the best of it, taking in what gardens and historic buildings remained open, and…

Veiled Images at Passiontide

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I would like to be a purple ghost / carried away by that kite… The effect of a veiled statue can be both unnerving and ridiculous. To wit: there’s a meme going around social media right now in which a statue of Christ with risen hands, draped in purple, looks absurdly like Grimace of McDonaldland. In a Catholic Church that practices the custom of veiling images during Lent,…

Hunger Moon

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I live in Minnesota, where the new growing season starts in May. At our house, March and April are our designated months for emptying the freezer, when we try to eat all the produce we froze the summer before. Sautéed spinach, tomato sauce, diced rhubarb, ratatouille, chopped raw onions and bell peppers divvied into one-cup…

The Pleasures of (Re)Reading

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If you’re going to make a habit of re-reading novels (as I do), then it helps to have a pretty poor memory (as I do). My re-reading seems to fall into two categories. First there are the novels I’ll re-read every ten years or so. These are the super-long ones that draw me inexorably into…

The Place of the Imagination in Spiritual Experience

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Does the imagination play a role in spiritual experience, I asked. How about in religious experience? On a Thursday morning late in the semester, a dozen undergraduates–honors students–and I gathered in a circle in the Laurel Forum, a room with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves along one wall, another wall all windows opening onto the campus quad. A…

Big Art: A Case for Maximalism

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Neither of us are great sightseers, but Bernie, my partner of twenty years, and I couldn’t come to Barcelona without visiting the Sagrada Familia, the modernist cathedral designed by the architect Antoni Gaudi at the turn of the twentieth century. We’d planned the trip to see a soccer game of Barcelona Football Club, a fascination…

The Holy Fool

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I met my husband for the first time on April Fool’s Day twelve years ago. Living several states apart, we were introduced by mutual friends and spent three months corresponding by email and phone. When it was finally feasible for us to meet face-to-face, I planned and worried for weeks, feeling tense with emotional preparation.…

May All Who Enter Here Be Comforted

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Wearing a hospital gown and blue-paper shorts I ease down, first onto my side, then gingerly onto my back that still protests after a month in response to once innocent movements. The technician slides a bolster under my knees, and warm blanket over them, hands me earplugs and an emergency call button, pushes a button,…

Revelations: An Interview with Poet Ruben Quesada

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…Christ was never more than a man nailed to across but from him I learned that an entire lifefits into a person’s palm like a book of poemslike an executioner’s hammer now at thirty fiveI have learned confession won’t save me… Ruben Quesada is the author of Next Extinct Mammal and Exiled from the Throne…

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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.

On Poetry Fridays, we introduce poems and poets we love from the Image archives.

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