Essay / Literature

Some Books Just Aren’t Long Enough

Some books just aren’t long enough. I wasn’t more than a hundred pages into The Lord of the Rings by J.R. Tolkien when I began to dread the ending—not because it was so far away, but because it was going to come all too soon.

Essay / Literature

When He Became a Child, the Affection Came

Francis Spufford wrote not long ago of “why, despite everything, Christianity can still make surprising emotional sense.” The great paradoxes of the faith–incarnation and crucifixion–would seem to resist any attempt to “make sense” of them. But, if one best enters these mysteries bowed low in

Essay / Literature

Beginnings and Creations in the Magician’s Nephew

In October 2014, five of the faculty of the Torrey Honors Institute had a public discussion of C.S. Lewis’ The Magician’s Nephew as part of Biola’s annual University Day. There was a lovely audience there, but we barely let them get a word in. Did I

Essay / Literature

Hermeneutics with Samuel Johnson

Samuel Johnson gives some excellent advice in his Preface to Shakespeare (1765) that applies to reading in general, and especially well to Bible reading. Johnson advises readers to plow straight through a Shakespeare play, keeping up a good pace even when passages aren’t clear. To

Essay / Literature

Wordsworth in the West

William Wordsworth perfected a certain type of nature poetry, a particularly spiritual sort of nature lyric. He celebrated the movements of the infinite Spirit making itself known to humanity through the forms of nature as contemplated by poet-prophets who were the universe’s appointed spokesmen. Nature

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