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Dark Age Theology

From the November 2021 Print Edition

We are facing a Dark Age. In this new era, theology will need to be sparer, stripped of speculative distractions, courageously at home with death and the “other world,” and, most important, deeply engrossed in Scripture. Otherwise, the public face of the Christian faith will be washed away by . . . . Continue Reading »

The Tragic Atheist

From the October 2021 Print Edition

“I painted to be loved.” That is how the artist Francis Bacon (1909–1992) described his impulse to create. Bacon’s work came to be part of the canon of late twentieth-century British painting, hanging in major museums around the world. His brutal images of contorted bodies, slabs of meat, . . . . Continue Reading »

Just Here

From the Aug/Sept 2021 Print Edition

A young friend of mine recently fell victim to an unexpected and horrific illness. For some time, it seemed that he would certainly die; the progress of the disease led expectations relentlessly in that direction. Prayers (­including my own) for God’s mercy multiplied with a profound desperation. . . . . Continue Reading »

Tending the Borderlands

From the June/July 2021 Print Edition

“I shall search for a garden where I can retire, and renew my spirit during this time filled with divorces, plagues, epidemics, and those other tribulations with which our present moment is so troubled.” So begins one of the more remarkable sixteenth-century treatises, “The True Recipe” . . . . Continue Reading »

Brief Friends

From the May 2021 Print Edition

The sight of old men huddled around outdoor tables, drinking coffee with one another, is familiar. In Italy, Turkey, Tunis, Buenos Aires, even fading parts of New York City—what are they talking about, in crumpled jackets and faded caps? Mostly, according to my limited eavesdropping (and . . . . Continue Reading »

Music That Is Never Heard

From the April 2021 Print Edition

One of the most haunting images I know of comes from the last days of James ­Simon, a German Jewish composer who perished at Auschwitz. Having survived ­Theresienstadt, he and others were sent off to their final destination. Witnesses say that the last time they saw him, Simon was waiting for the . . . . Continue Reading »

Unsolitary Grandeur

From the March 2021 Print Edition

“The mountains are my church.” So said an old parishioner of mine who tended cattle in the Wet Mountains of Colorado. He meant this hackneyed comment (you can still see it on bumper stickers) to explain his infrequent Sunday visits. I recalled it as I embarked with my family on a long December . . . . Continue Reading »

Seeing the Whole

From the February 2021 Print Edition

A few years ago, I visited Albi, a small town in southern France famed for its Cathedral of Saint Cecilia. Constructed of the rose-colored brick typical of the region, the building was begun in the thirteenth century, about a hundred years after the Albigensian Crusade against the region’s . . . . Continue Reading »

L’affaire Voltaire

From the January 2021 Print Edition

Americans know little of Voltaire. French high-schoolers, by contrast, know him the way we once knew Thoreau and Whitman, before social justice eclipsed history as the rationale for our syllabi. Like America’s Liberty Bell, Voltaire’s tomb in Paris’s Panthéon is still visited by school groups . . . . Continue Reading »