Good Letters

Getting Over My Nature-phobia


I grew up in an apartment in the city. Through my formative years, my environment was made mostly of cement, yardless buildings, narrow alleyways, laundromats, buses, storefronts, and house cats. We did live a few blocks from Golden Gate Park, but it’s not the kind of park where you can go so deep in that…

Wearing Black


First, perhaps most prominently, there was the dress I wore to my mother’s funeral: a cotton broadcloth shift dress, princess-seamed and with box pleats around the knee-length hem, that had been a hand-me-over from my sister-in-law. The dress was sleeveless, but I did wear high-heeled shoes, a black spandex slip, and stockings. It was around…

A Stepping Stone in Rwanda


The first night I was in Rwanda, I was asked to facilitate group discussion among the thirteen students and five faculty members who were about to spend our ten days there. So I did what I usually do when I am asked to teach. I came up with fourteen questions that dealt with various abstract…

A Conversion Story


The word “conversion” reminds me of Anne Lamott, whose own Damascus Road story is one that I love telling my students: Lamott recalls the fevered days after an abortion when, drunk and spotting blood, she noticed a stray cat sitting at her doorstep. The cat followed Lamott everywhere, down the street and to the liquor…

Inspector Clouseau and Poetic Play


Part of the delight of preparing my new course on Poetry as a Spiritual Practice for the Glen Online has been returning to some favorite interviews with poets in past issues of Image. I enjoy reading what contemporary poets have to say about their art almost as much as I enjoy reading their poems. I love, for…

Starbucks and the Liberal Arts Major


My wife and I have seven college degrees between us. We share more layoffs than that. All those degrees, minus the dubious M.B.A. I earned a few years back, are in liberal arts fields. This may also help to explain those layoffs, although I suppose that sheer workplace incompetence can never be ruled out entirely.…

When Arms Fail


It is darkest night, and it is the last night my four children will ever go to sleep thinking their mother and father will always be married. Tomorrow we tell them it’s not to be that way. My heart quails at the thought of what we have planned, how it would be better to slap…

A Summer of Time Travel


Please note: This post contains plot spoilers for some of the films discussed.  We go to the movies to get out of here. To go somewhere else. And sometimes, that’s enough. But it’s best when we come back bearing treasure, like Bilbo Baggins returning to Bag End in The Hobbit—wiser for his adventures, richer for…

What’s Your Process?


It was in grad school that I first heard mention of artistic “process.” “What’s your process?” was a favorite question posed by zealous grad students to famous writers paid thousands of dollars to read from their work for forty-five minutes in a musty auditorium. I always rolled my eyes when someone asked these kinds of…

Sleight of Hand


As the latest political scandal broke over the past weeks, the same explanations and reflections were trotted out. “It’s never the indiscretion,” they always say, “it’s the cover-up. If you just come clean, people will forgive you; it’s lying about it that does you in.” I don’t know about that. I recall many a public…

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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