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Dear friend of Image:

We are delighted to announce that James K.A. Smith has joined Image journal as the new editor in chief—and has already recruited much of our new editorial team, introduced below.

An award-winning writer, sought-after speaker, and professor of philosophy at Calvin College, Jamie has been editor in chief of Comment magazine for the past six years. His books include You Are What You Love, Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism?, Imagining the Kingdom, and How (Not) to Be Secular, among others. He has written for the New York TimesChristianity Today, SlateWall Street Journal, First Things,  and Books & Culture, and has just reviewed fiction for Image.

Jamie is a vigorous advocate for the importance of the arts to the life of faith. In his initial letter to our search committee, he wrote:

The arts speak to aspects of human nature ignored or denied by a culture captivated by brutal notions of “efficiency” or quasi-scientific narratives that reduce us to animality. It’s in literature, poetry, film, and so many other art forms that we hear echoes of a biblical understanding of humanity—that we are created in God’s image, animated by hungers and hopes, made to delight and play. In other words, the arts are evidence of what I’ve called “cracks in the secular”—the recalcitrant mystery at the heart of the human that refuses to be eviscerated. Art continues to shout Nein! to our disenchantment.

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Editor in Chief

James K. A. Smith

An influential writer and thinker, Jamie has broad reach and a diverse readership. As one longtime friend of Image put it:

Jamie is entrepreneurial in the best sense of the word—entrepreneurial for the sake of getting other people engaged with objects worthy of love. As the public face of the journal, he would draw new people into caring about the arts in a way that no one else I can think of would.

This new chapter at Image will build on the vision of our founder by initiating a collaborative editorial approach, one that brings together a diverse group of literary and art minds to realize Image’s best potential.

Jamie has promoted veteran Image staffer Mary Kenagy Mitchell to executive editor to reflect her leadership role within the organization and the expanded scope of editorial work this new approach will require. Mary joined the Image staff as managing editor in 2000. She has held the journal’s operations together through thick and thin and brings a deep knowledge of our history and a finely tuned editorial sense. Her short stories and essays have appeared in Image, Good Letters, The Millions, 3 Quarks Daily, Georgia Review, and elsewhere.

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Executive Editor

Mary Kenagy Mitchell

Jamie and Mary will appoint section editors who will help us reach new audiences and bring fresh vision to their respective areas. In fact, they have already recruited four:

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Poetry Editor

Shane McCrae

Shane McCrae’s most recent books are The Gilded Auction Block (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018) and In the Language of My Captor (Wesleyan University Press, 2017). He has received a Lannan Literary Award, a Whiting Writer’s Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and a fellowship from the NEA. He teaches at Columbia University and lives in New York City.

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Creative Nonfiction Editor

Lauren F. Winner

Lauren F. Winner’s most recent book is The Dangers of Christian Practice: On Wayward Gifts, Characteristic Damage, and Sin (Yale). Her other books include Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis and Wearing God (both from HarperOne). She is associate professor of Christian spirituality at Duke Divinity School.

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Blog and Podcast Editor

Jessica Mesman

Jessica Mesman is a widely published writer whose book Love and Salt: A Spiritual Friendship in Letters, co-authored with Amy Andrews, won the Christopher Award for “literature that affirms the highest values of the human spirit.” She founded and curates the award-winning group blog, Sick Pilgrim.

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Culture Editor

Nick Ripatrazone

Nick writes about poetry, religion, film, books, culture, and sports for Rolling Stone, GQ, The Atlantic, Paris Review, Esquire, Literary Hub, Sewanee Review, Commonweal, Kenyon Review, America, Image, and other publications, and is a contributing editor at The Millions. He is working on a book about faith and doubt in fiction for Fortress Press.

Jamie and Mary are now actively recruiting Fiction and Visual Arts Editors who we expect to announce soon.

This is truly shaping up to be a dream team, a group of remarkable individuals with broad expertise and a variety of stylistic approaches who together can deepen and diversify Image’s editorial reach while making our organization more engaging and collegial. By bringing a number of editorial voices into conversation, we expect to see the journal develop and grow in profound and refreshing ways.

We’re extremely grateful to the donor who caught the vision and stepped forward to support this new editorial structure in its initial years. This generous soul saw what was possible and is now helping us make it real.  

We’re also grateful to all those writers, artists, donors, and staff who built and sustained Image from its inception until now.

We hope you share our sense of excitement about Image’s next chapter. In December, we’ll publish our 99th issue—with Jamie’s very first editorial statement. And we have great plans in store for our 100th issue and 30th anniversary in 2019, so stay tuned.

Yours sincerely,

The Image Board of Directors
Michael Capps, Chair
Phil Cooke
Roger Feldman
Lawan Glasscock
Crosby Haffner
David Jennings
Andrea Codrington Lippke
Steven Purcell
Ray Sawatsky
Mark E.E. Sprinkle

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