Skip to content

Essays in Image

Essays from the Current Issue


Recent Image Milton fellow Sonya Bilocerkowycz on the most famous Ukrainian restaurant in America—and how following the threads of history can lead to uncomfortable truths.

Father, Son, Sinner, Saint

An anonymous essay by a writer who has taken fiction writer Denis Johnson as his patron saint.

Essays from the Archive

Cloud Shapes and Oak Trees

Robert Cording uses the clouds of Norway and the oak trees of Iowa as an entry point into a discussion of how art lets us see reality.

Fierce Mercy: The Theater Art of Karin Coonrod

John Skillen writes on director Karin Coonrod, and her productions from Shakespeare to Flannery O'Connor, and from New York City to Orvieto.

The Many-Voiced God

Tyler McCabe on the family television and telling and untelling stories.

Who Is My Mother, Who Are My Brothers?

Sara Zarr ponders potlucks, the end times, and growing up female and Evangelical.

The Rule of Life

D.L. Mayfield teaches English to East African immigrants and wonders if it’s the best way to help.

The Yoke of Sympathy

Mary Kenagy Mitchell on a writer’s relationship to her characters.


Sara Zarr muses on art as an embrace of reality and considers that adaptation is another word for conversion as she watches her book become a film.

Love Letters

Lee Isaac Chung on Hollywood’s American dream as seen through the eyes of Korean immigrants.

The Spiritual Frontiers of Film

In this reprint of his 2001 piece, with a new introduction by Scott Teems, Filmmaker Ron Austin writes on the state of film and an emerging spiritual awareness among artists.

Into Deep Waters

Laura Bramon Good frames her musings on the body through pregnancy and her grandmother’s aging.

Unless a Kernel of Wheat Falls

Ryan Masters tells the story of his grief when his first child dies during birth.

Perfume Poured Out

Allison Grace Myers weighs the ontological consequences of being born with no sense of smell.

Lord God Bird

Isaac Anderson reflects on the intermittence of experiencing God.
Best American Essays
Honorable Mention 2013

God’s Truth Is Life

Christian Wiman on faith and the craft of poetry.
Awarded a 2010 Pushcart Prize

A Gyroscope on the Island of Love

Michael McGregor tells the story of his unlikely friendship with Thomas Merton’s best friend.

Roman Charity

Traci Brimhall reports on breastfeeding in ancient Rome—braided with a memoir of her own complicated mother.

Portraits of the Sonata

A.G. Harmon takes a look at the themes and varieties of modern European films.

Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?

Gregory Martin expounds on suburban application of the mandate to “love your neighbor.”


Susan Neville on prayer, color, addiction and light.

Bent Body, Lamb

Molly McCully Brown offers a tender, comic reflection on her reluctant journey into the Catholic Church and coming to terms with her body’s limitations.

Listening Unfolding

Nate Klug meditates on the competing vocations of poetry and being a pastor to a small town church in Iowa.

Daring to Do the Good: The Knight and the Theologian

Kathleen L. Housley explores Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s obsession with a thousand-page nineteenth-century novel about a medieval knight.

Writing with So Great a Cloud of Witnesses

Bret Lott contemplates workshops and being a witness to the electron-world.

When Marriage Is a Tomb Where Silence Dwells

Jill Patterson confesses that divorce may be a blessing.

A Bookwright’s Tale

Barry Moser considers vocation through the art of etching.

Lady Undressing

Anne Welch makes sense of her career as a hospital secretary—a career that ended with a tragedy.

Hearts Like Radios

Chris Hoke’s experience with sufferers of schizophrenia leads him to propose that the mind is more than either matter or illusion.

Why Sacred Music Endures

James MacMillan urges society to “re-sacralize” its sounds.

Meditations on Writing and Lawyering

Francisco X. Stork’s take on where prayer life and vocation meet.


Allison Backous tracks the cycle of family history and chronicles her exodus.

Pigeons and Turtledoves

Mike Smith reflects on Saint Francis, Fritz Eichenberg, and eternal protest. 


Morgan Meis surprises himself by converting to Catholicism in Sri Lanka.

The Subject of Longing

Bruce Cockburn discusses his early career and how the overarching human emotion of longing became manifest in his closest relationships. 

In Nomine

A.G. Harmon considers what it means to bear the family name after his uncle’s death.


Lauren Winner unpacks the culinary imagery of the God who both “is the meal and...also provides the meal.”

The End of Suffering

Scott Cairns uses Trinitarian thought to contemplate affliction.

Skin Boat

John Terpstra persists in attending church, and ask himself: why?

An Apprenticeship in Affliction: Waiting with Simone Weil

Peggy Rosenthal is influenced by one philosopher’s unconventional religious philosophy and development of self. 

Sovereignty of the Void

Christian Bobin's movement through solitude, silence, and letters.

The Charged World

Martha Park considers electrocution and the pursuit of holiness in Tennessee.


Ilana M. Blumberg shares both the drama of monotony of the days leading up to her grandmother’s passing.

Heart’s Companion: Listening to Leonard Cohen

Bill Coyle on Leonard Cohen’s use of lyricism as the acknowledgment of brokenness. 

Making It Strange

Debbie Blue shares four short sermons delivered at the Glen Workshop in 2008.

Decay and Resurrection

Paul Dannels begs the question: what do abandoned buildings say about our communities and their priorities?

With Saint Christopher at Chimayo

Susanne Antonetta lights a memorial candle to remember her cousin and ruminates on their shared childhood.

Naming the Beloved: Ethics, Aesthetics, and Lyric Poetry

Gregory Orr on the relationship between ethical actions and poetic craftsmanship.

The Superhero and His People

Santiago Ramos unpacks the questions of ethics and identity posed by recent superhero films.

Inherited but never Inhabited

Judith Rock ponders exile and her family history.

Implicit Tree

Lynda Sexson delves into an unwanted but scintillating conversation with a stranger.

On Brotherhood and Crucifixion

Carol Ann Davis explores the role of the witness to pain.


Erin McGraw on the nature and value of beauty.

It’s a Wonderful Life

Jessica Mesman on pro-life protesters and the battle over unborn souls.

Fully Human

Eight artists and writers discuss art and the religious sense.


Deborah Joy Corey reflects on childhood faith, her mother, and a fall.

Man Is But An Ass

Harrison Scott Key on growing up in the South and misconceptions of dreams.

The Wisdom of Goodnight Moon

Claire Holley on music that is born out of motherhood.

Transit Alexander: A Round

Richard Rodriguez meditates on the connotations of the color of earth.


Dennis Covington reflects on heritage and desire.

A Private Letter

Michael Symmons Roberts on writing for composers.

A Cinema of Solidarity: Women, Film, and Islam

Gaye Williams Ortiz discusses the films that opened her eyes to the experiences of women half a world away.

On Becoming Divine

Kim Peavey on seminary, service, and being asked for the words to “Amazing Grace.”

Kurt Vonnegut, Christ-Loving Atheist

Dan Wakefield discloses his friendship with Vonnegut, unearthing the ways the author’s non-Christian moral compass echoed the Sermon on the Mount. 

The Rosary

Ann Conway recalls her childhood in learning to love what remains.

A Disbeliever in Limbo

Rochelle Hurt visits cathedrals while being treated for cancer.


Anita Sullivan reflects upon Listening to Biber’s Rosary Sonatas.

Singing the Darkness: On Russia, Suffering, and Poetry

Philip Metres on the Russian literary tradition of suffering, his own experience with misery, and poets who make the darkness sing.

Forward into the Dark

Nick Ripatrazone comments on the role of Image in the art world, and on the duties of the writer of faith.

Recovering Evangelical: Reflections of an Erstwhile Christ Addict

Todd Shy remembers his college days when he faced the embedded drama, anguish, and zeal of his evangelical roots.

This Is My Body

Suzanne M. Wolfe on the self-imposed hunger strike of her adolescence. 

The Ring

Lee Haupt unearths the scars of her family history.

I Tell My Mother Lies

Daniel Taylor reflects on ten hour drives and taking his aging mother out for icecream.

The Reading Wars

Jeanne Murray Walker shares her mother’s attempts to rewrite Shakespeare.

The Myth of Independent Film

Craig Detweiler’s journey collaborating with his long lost college roommate to make a documentary about the line that divides faith and doubt.

The Underground Life of Prayer

An excerpt from Fred Bahnson’s spiritual memoir Soil and Sacrament.

Ways of the Cranes

Linda Hogan describes the poetic life of birds.

The Exiles: Finding the Story

Ron Austin on his friendship with Kent MacKenzie and his subsequent role in production of The Exiles.

A House Divided

Steven D. Greydanus on broken homes, flying houses, divorce, and death in family fantasy films.

Our Last Suppers

Nicole Sheets tries to care for a dying friend and discovers her own limitations.

The Discipline of the Notebook

Bonnie Friedman urges readers to follow her life-giving antidote of keeping a notebook around at all times.

A Trip to Welty's South of the Border

Moira Crone examines Eudora Welty on a drive to Louisiana.

The Watcher

Bonita Friedman on burial plots and saving up life for tomorrow.

Radiant Power: Authority and Violence in New Egyptian Fiction

M. Lynx Qualey reflects on fiction from contemporary Egypt—and what it reveals about power.

My Evangelist

Spencer Reese delves into the nature mysticism of Emily Dickinson.


Lauren F. Winner explores the theological significance of the in-between in art and language.

The Rage of Peter de Vries: Reckoning with a Brokenhearted Humorist

Jonathan Hiskes explores the literature that reflects his own childhood experience.

Wine for Those Who Faint

Priscilla Gilman responds to her illness by reading the Hebrew Bible.

Varieties of Quiet

Christian Wiman on the mysterious and difficult nature of faith.

The Thorn and the Heart: Anxiety, Irony, and Faith

Jonathan McGregor remembers his youthful exploration of the internet, his ensuing love of Kierkegaard, and how it grew.

Four Corners

Four artists discuss and share a concern for the integrity of the painting as the arena where material meets meaning.

Nick Cave’s Enchanted World: Some Angles of Entry

Samuel Gray Anderson reveals Nick Cave and the Bad Seed’s myriad of artistic manifestos.


Jeffrey Overstreet brings out his inner film critic and shares the delightful exploration of Japanese cinema.

Bruce Springsteen and the Long Walk Home

Andy Whitman reflects on music as a way of returning to your front door.

Language as Sacrament in the New Testament

Franz Wright is astounded that Jesus would call him his friend.

Asking for Salt

Jill Noel Kandel becomes a writer while her son struggles to read.

Nothing Happens: Everything Happens

Robert Clark on The Long Day Closes and the story of its director.

Where Are You?

Ryan Flanagan recalls young suffering and loss.

Something Understood

Michelle Syba finds that sometimes silence and meditation serve as surprising routes to understanding.

Gladly, the Cross-eyed Bear

Andrew Hudgins discovers Jesus jokes.

Corona de Espinas

Jim Hinch on migrant farm workers, a medieval mystery play, and the future of religious art in America.

The Cloud of Unknowing

Kevin Honold ponders probation and frames his existence through migration and the words of an anonymous fourteenth century English priest.

 Special Topics

Why Believe in God?

We put it to a group of writers, artists, filmmakers, and musicians: At a time in human history when religious faith is called not only out-of-date but malignant, why do you believe?

The Landscape of Art & Faith

What is the contemporary literary climate like for writers of faith? How will they fare in the future?

The Word-Soaked World: Troubling the Lexicon of Art & Faith

This collection of short essays demonstrates the push-pull relationship believing artists have with words: We are in pursuit of a God who is revealed through the poetry of the oldest Psalms, but whose true name is impossible to pronounce.


“Not since O’Connor’s Mystery and Manners has there been such bracing insight on the pile-up where art and faith collide.”

—Annie Dillard 

If you like Image, you’ll love ImageUpdate.

Subscribe to our free newsletter here: