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I read R. R. Reno’s charitable words on Karl Barth with great interest (“Karl Barth,” May) and would like to offer my own remarks as a ­supplement. At the Protestant Theologicum in Tübingen (1974–5), I spent a year sharing an office with Reno’s mentor, Ronald Thiemann. Ron’s background . . . . Continue Reading »

Civics after Midnight

Imagination is a monarchy;They cannot rule where they cannot decree.Just think of Solzhenitzyn underground,His manuscripts in danger, not his mind.Trust not in princes is for poets too;To order what’s within is up to you.They’ll never rule where they cannot decree—Imagination is a . . . . Continue Reading »

Sticks and Stones

Some say it like a charmin the face of words heavy as stone,or a riddle of subtle pebbles thrown,each sticking point like a firearm.As if the saying would erase the harm.Raging fire or cold as ice, we’ve knowntoo well where words can send us.Words can cut us to the boneand even end us. . . . . Continue Reading »

List for Confession

Avarice—Quite a bit.Lust—Not so much these days.Envy—I’ve never saidMuch in a rival’s praise.Pride can be kept in line.Wrath leads to evil ends.But Gluttony and Sloth?Oh, welcome in, dear friends! —Gail White Image by Fondazione Cariplo via Creative Commons. Image . . . . Continue Reading »

Father’s Day Hieroglyph

In a wall relief at the shrine of Hathor,goddess of love and joy, Thutmose III,Napoleon of Egypt, conqueror of Syria holds a ball in one hand and in the othera stick, “striking the ball for Hathor, foremostin Thebes.” Seker-hemat, batting the ball. The king’s priest plays the field, . . . . Continue Reading »

Learning by Heart

In Darwin, Australia, sometime in 1958, an old man lay dying in hospital. He asked to see—of all people—the British writer ­Malcolm Muggeridge. They didn’t know each other, but ­Muggeridge was touring Australia and the old man had heard him on the radio. As ­Muggeridge recalled it, . . . . Continue Reading »

Spaceship with Saint Giovannino

We had been pointing out the smallest details,often on the periphery, Icarus falling,nearly invisible, only legs left disappearing into the Aegean.No one in that painting was watching it happen,but here in this one, in the Palazzo in Florence,the figure in the background shielded his eyes from the . . . . Continue Reading »

Saint Vincent of Saragossa

His attributes are few—a book, a rodwith three large hooks. But it cannot conveythe tortures, multiple, endured for God—the rack, a gridiron, burnt flesh wrenched away. Portrayed in deacon’s vestments, Vincent showsno fear. He does not see the butterfliesthat form the border. Why the . . . . Continue Reading »

On a Statue of the Blessed Virgin

This woman, cast in bronze,Lowers her eyes uponAn infant on her lap,His naked bulk enfoldedWithin her draping mantle. She cradles him, at rest,While fold on fold descends,Concealing grace with graceExcept where that cloth breaksTo bare one slip of flesh. Here, on the desk, they sit,Where joyless . . . . Continue Reading »

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