Essays in Image

Essays from the Current Issue

Chest Percussions

Amye Day Ong writes a bittersweet, comic memoir about childhood illness.

Dinner with Dona Adélia

Jessica Goudeau's reflection on meeting Brazil’s foremost living poet, Adélia Prado.

The Doubt that Breathes Beside You

Stina Kielsmeier-Cook on her husband’s loss of faith and her own more ambiguous spiritual journey.

Essays from the Archive

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.

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.

Where Are You?

Ryan Flanagan recalls young suffering and loss.

A Gyroscope on the Island of Love

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

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.

Portraits of the Sonata

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

Corona de Espinas

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

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.

Daring to Do the Good: The Knight and the Theologian

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

Radiant Power: Authority and Violence in New Egyptian Fiction

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

The Yoke of Sympathy

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

Listening Unfolding

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

Something Understood

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

Nick Cave’s Enchanted World: Some Angles of Entry

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

Ways of the Cranes

Linda Hogan describes the poetic life of birds.


Erin McGraw on the nature and value of beauty.

Lady Undressing

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

When Marriage Is a Tomb Where Silence Dwells

Jill Patterson confesses that divorce may be a blessing.

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.

The Charged World

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

The Subject of Longing

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

Our Last Suppers

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

Pigeons and Turtledoves

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


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

With Saint Christopher at Chimayo

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

The Discipline of the Notebook

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

Heart’s Companion: Listening to Leonard Cohen

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


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

Lord God Bird

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

My Evangelist

Spencer Reese delves into the nature mysticism of Emily Dickinson.


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

The Rule of Life

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

On Brotherhood and Crucifixion

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

Decay and Resurrection

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

God’s Truth Is Life

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

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.

Roman Charity

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

Implicit Tree

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

Transit Alexander: A Round

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


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

The End of Suffering

Scott Cairns uses Trinitarian thought to contemplate affliction.

Fully Human

Eight artists and writers discuss art and the religious sense.

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. 

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.

Varieties of Quiet

Christian Wiman on the mysterious and difficult nature of faith.


Dennis Covington reflects on heritage and desire.

Language as Sacrament in the New Testament

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

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

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

Gladly, the Cross-eyed Bear

Andrew Hudgins discovers Jesus jokes.

A Disbeliever in Limbo

Rochelle Hurt visits cathedrals while being treated for cancer.

Nothing Happens: Everything Happens

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

Four Corners

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

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.

Power in the Blood

Patton Dodd discusses Christian killers and the myth of religious violence in Hollywood films.

It’s a Wonderful Life

Jessica Mesman on the battle of souls.

Recovering Evangelical: Reflections of an Erstwhile Christ Addict

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

Asking for Salt

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

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.

An Apprenticeship in Affliction: Waiting with Simone Weil

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

The Underground Life of Prayer

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

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.


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

This Is My Body

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

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.

The Ring

Lee Haupt unearths the scars of her family history.

 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 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.

The Landscape of Art & Faith

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


“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 

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