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

Essay / Literature

Classic Texts on the Atonement

Every now and then someone asks me for a list of my favorite books on the doctrine of the atonement. This is my list of favorite classics, to be followed by a list of contemporary works. Athanasius, On the Incarnation: for my money, this is

Essay / Blog


We are all past, present, and future. While our lives may be bound in the present, what constitutes our “who” has come before, and will be. I am myself, my mother’s child, my child’s mother. The intricacy and interdependency of human lives and human relationships

Essay / Literature

Razumikhin Haddock

The character Razumikhin in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment is one of the most personable figures in the book. Intelligent, loyal, resourceful, and generally pleasant, he’s one of the few people you can imagine looking forward to spending a few days with in St. Petersburg. But

Essay / Education

Hebrews: The Mind-blowing Finale

The book of Hebrews is the grand finale of the first semester in the Torrey Honors Institute. After the freshman fall, the curriculums for Torrey’s two houses take their separate ways: the Morgan House following a roughly chronological path to bring them up to the