Essay / Literature

Recommended: Schumacher’s Dear Committee Members

As the academic year rolls back around, I usually end up reading a late-summer silly novel. Nothing eases the pain of being a grown-up with a job quite like a dose of Wodehouse –though Alexander McCall Smith and Jack Handey also work pretty well. I

Essay / Education

The Abundant Style of Erasmus

I had heard that Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466-1536) wrote a book showing hundreds of ways to say “thanks for your letter,” so I went and looked it up, just to see what one of the Renaissance’s prime movers was thinking when he did that. The

Essay / Blog

Remembering Chris Mitchell

On Thursday night, my dear friend Chris died of a heart attack. We in the Torrey Honors Institute were—are—in complete shock. There were no warning signs, nothing indicating that his health was in decline. (An undetected heart disease proved to be the cause.) Chris and

Essay / Literature

Leaf By Niggle: A Recommendation

“Beauty, Eucatastrophe, and the Doctrine of Grace in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Leaf By Niggle” In September 1944, J. R. R. Tolkien received a request from The Dublin Review for a story that would be “an effective expression of Catholic humani­ty.” In response, he sent Leaf By

Essay / Art

Dante, Illustrated by Boccaccio

I did not know this existed until today. I knew that Giovanni Boccaccio (1313–75), author of the Decameron, admired Dante Alighieri (1265–1321). I knew Boccaccio had written a short Life of Dante, and I even knew that Boccaccio had studied Dante’s work intensely and lectured on

Essay / Blog

Love: A Risky Business

The Catholic apologist and Bible translator, Ronald Knox, captured the heart of G.K. Chesterton and his importance when he observed that Chesterton “had the artist’s eye which could suddenly see in some quite familiar object a new value; he had the poet’s intuition which could

Essay / Literature

Homer, Virgil, and the Theology of the Underworld

Among the host of ways Virgil modifies and develops Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, the changes wrought to the underworld are arguably the most substantial. A complex geography forms of punishment, rivers, the abyss and the “places of delight” fills what was a much simpler and more monotonous landscape in

Essay / Blog

C.S. Lewis: on faces and how to get them

This morning, Fred Sanders and I participated in a chapel honoring C.S. Lewis’ life and works. Here’s a little reflection on a passage from Till We Have Faces: Be careful of the story you tell yourself. This is some of the best advice my husband

Essay / Literature

The Praise of Perelandra

Excerpt from a chapel on the stories of C.S. Lewis, at Biola on Dec. 2, 2013. I want to read to you a passage from the second book of Lewis’ Space Trilogy, from the book Perelandra. Though it’s from the final pages of the book,

Essay / Literature

First Lines of Theology Books

Joan Didion once said that the first line of a book is the decisive part. “What’s so hard about that first sentence is that you’re stuck with it. Everything else is going to flow out of that sentence. And by the time you’ve laid down

Essay / Literature

The Dazzling Dusk

There are a few lines from a poem by Coventry Patmore that stick in my mind for their remarkable, evocative power. I first read them in a 1939 anthology by Walter de la Mare called Behold This Dreamer, a rambling collection of prose and poetry about

Essay / Literature

Mysteries to Themselves

The fallen angels in Paradise Lost are of course shockingly wrongheaded in their estimation of God: Lucifer and company, while in heaven, thought they could beat God in a fight, and some of them continue to think so even after they find themselves greatly diminished and