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Literature


Jamie Quatro Envisions Unconditional Love in New York City

After speaking at our conference last year, Leslie Jamison recommended a book that she had read in one sitting: Jamie Quatro’s Fire Sermon. Aptly named, this inferno of a novel is about desire, transgression, self-loathing and acceptance; I, too, read it quickly (not in one sitting, but quickly!). The protagonist, Maggie, is a writer wrestling […]

Sacred Wounds that Give Life

Natasha Trethewey is trying to redeem herself — or at least the aspect of herself she lost when she buried the emotional memory of her mother’s tragic death. Her collection of poems, Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoirs, represents an attempt to unearth the past with clarity and insight, adding prose and metaphor to speak to […]

Church Shopping at the Apocalypse

This (timely!) article by CJ Green was originally featured in Issue 7 of The Mockingbird: The Church Issue.  Don’t tell me you’re going to read Stephen King next, my mom said when I started high school, suspiciously eyeballing my more grown-up selection of books. At the time, I didn’t know who Stephen King was, but […]

Love, Compassion, and the Relative Suffering of Christ on the Cross: Intimations by Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith’s Intimations is a short collection of essays about life in corona-time. Most of them are fixed on that singularly bizarre March/April when “surreal” was the only word most of us could cough up; not surprisingly, Smith has a more expressive vocabulary. If the book arouses any suspicion, it’s that it came too fast, […]

Auden’s Missing Mercy

The constant background of stress caused by a brand-spanking-new kind of plague, combined with widespread social unrest and a particularly contentious election year, have all conspired to put a serious crimp in my attention span. This has become particularly noticeable in my reading habits; it has to be good, like brake-squealing good, for me to […]

Our Unwelcome Infinite Summer: David Foster Wallace and Martin Luther on Desire and Discontent

Probably the least sexy limit-experience one can have is of being bored with something one otherwise normally enjoys. Sitting in a lawn chair with Infinite Jest while my kids play with water is a good thing, one I look forward to as part of a relaxed afternoon. But why, then, do I periodically lift my […]

Blame and Denial from Lisbon to Florida: The Solid Ground of Christian Hope

As an unseen virus is threatening our very existence and as people strongly disagree on how best to respond to it, people throw around the word “unprecedented” a little too easily. COVID is new, but people are not. We’ve been here before, if we care to remember. In the fall of 1755, a terrible earthquake […]

On Hula Hooping, First Grade Bullies, and Living Language: Mere Words and the Word

Words! Mere words! How terrible they were! How clear and vivid and cruel! One could not escape from them. And yet what a subtle magic there was in them! They seemed to be able to give a plastic form to formless things, and to have a music of their own as sweet of that of […]

Just Mercy (and Chocolate Milkshakes)

For the past few years, so many people have suggested I read the book Just Mercy that I became determined to never read it, as an act of defiance. All I can say is that I’m thankful I finally joined the parade. The 2014 bestseller is the remarkable story of Bryan Stevenson, a young attorney […]

Faithful Representations: The Bible That Vanished Without a Trace

Thankful for this post from Rachel Arteaga: In the spring of 2004, the Oregonian reported that police in Portland had found “an elaborate camp dug into a steep hillside” in Forest Park, a 5,200-acre woodland conservancy just within the city limits, where a man and a young girl, presumably father and daughter, had been living […]

The Most Lost of Them All

Madness and Rescue from Kafka’s Prison

Overcoming Unbelief: John Updike on Feathers and Faith

Fusty Churches, Creaking Hymns, and Revived Faith