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Web Exclusive: A Conversation with Charles Pickstone

By Charles Pickstone Essay

British artist Chris Ofili has long been a source of controversy. His detractors have included the mayor of New York as well as a man who threw white paint on one of his pieces at the Brooklyn Museum (the famous Virgin Mary piece with elephant dung). But despite the bombast and apparent sacrilege, Ofili’s work…

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Erotic Theology

By James K.A. Smith Book Review

Poetic Theology: God and the Poetics of Everyday Life William A. Dyrness Eerdmans, 2011 CONTEMPORARY theology is a lot of things, but poetic it is not. Quite the contrary: long captivated by the supposed rigor of a flattened rationalism, and saddled with a desire for intellectual respectability, theology speaks in the jargon-laden tongue of the…

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Into Deep Waters

By Laura Bramon Good Essay

ONE SUMMER at the lake house, I forgot my swimming suit and found one of my grandmother’s—an old, plastic mold of a suit, perhaps unworn for twenty years—hanging like a replica of her younger body in the upstairs cedar closet. The suit smelled green and sweet, like the lake. When I pulled it onto my…

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A Cinema of Solidarity: Women, Film, and Islam

By Gaye Williams Ortiz Essay

IN MAY 2001 I found myself at the Cannes Film Festival on a six-member ecumenical jury. Every year the festival hosts other accredited juries besides the star-studded official one, and since 1974 an ecumenical jury made up of Catholics and Protestants has given awards to films in Cannes’s competitive selection. Dutifully we attended all the…

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On Becoming Divine

By Kim Peavey Essay

On Becoming Divine: Within Theological School, and Without I HAVE NEVER BEEN smote on the head, or anywhere else, for that matter, with religious conviction. Yet, after years of milking cows, traveling, graduate study in poetry, teaching college writing, shoveling horse manure, and stints as a researcher and writer, I found myself applying to theological…

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Writing with So Great a Cloud of Witnesses

By Bret Lott Essay

  LAST MONTH MY BEST FRIEND, Jeff Deal, and I made a road trip from Charleston, South Carolina, to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, to visit my older son Zebulun, a cavalry scout with the 101st Airborne. Jeff’s son Russell is in the army as well, our two boys having made a pact while they were undergrads…

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Paradox of Flesh: The Art of Chris Ofili

By Charles Pickstone Essay

THE WORK OF British-born artist Chris Ofili, Turner Prize–winner in 1996 and 2003 British representative at the Venice Biennale, poses a particular challenge. Almost every review of his major 2010 retrospective at London’s Tate Britain alluded to the “spirituality” of the work of this former altar boy; the artist himself often gives religious titles to…

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Marc Quinn: The Matter of Life and Death

By James Romaine Essay

IN  2009, BRITAIN’S NATIONAL Portrait Gallery acquired Self by Marc Quinn. The museum’s press release described the work as “unconventional, innovative, and challenging.” That is an understatement. Self is made of eight pints of Quinn’s own blood, approximately the amount in an adult male body. It was extracted over a period of a year, then…

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A Conversation with Marilyn Nelson

By Jeanne Murray Walker Interview

The daughter of a Tuskegee Airman and a teacher, Marilyn Nelson was brought up primarily on military bases and started writing while still in elementary school. She earned her BA from the University of California, Davis, and holds postgraduate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania (MA, 1970) and the University of Minnesota (PhD, 1979). Her…

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Fishguard Harbour  

By G.C. Waldrep Poetry

There is a moment prayer occurs to the conscious mind, or rather the absence of prayer in the moment of need hitherto. Experience names the vacuum it has been seized by, only the mouth— the physical fact of the mouth, sensuous, capable of beauty or deceit— can’t form the words the ventral thalamus is telegraphing.…

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