Essay / Literature

Menand: Uncommonly Successful in Keeping the Felicities of Prose

I just finished a very fast read-through (with permission to skip some sections) of Louis Menand’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 2001 book The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America. It’s a 500-page book about one school of American philosophy. I picked it up used and

Essay / Literature

Erasmus, Born to Bring Back Literature

Today (October 27) is the birthday of Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus, known simply as Erasmus, famous in his own time as Mr. Renaissance. He was “born to bring back literature,” his contemporaries said of him: ad restituendas literas natus. The Renaissance was a defining event in

Essay / Education

What’s a Nice Christian Girl Like You Doing Reading Homer?

Two sisters sit at home, talking. The younger sister does needlework and arranges flowers picked from the garden, as she passes the time until her boyfriend comes to visit. The older sister, on the other hand, is trying to make some kind of sense out

Essay / Literature

Czeslaw Milosz’ Birthday

Czeslaw Milosz, the Polish poet who lived his last decades in California, was born on this day, June 30, in 1911. I am told on good authority that we should pronounce his name “Chess-wov Mee-woash,” but I can’t get used to saying those L’s as

Essay / Literature

Elizabeth Barrett Browning Was One Theological Poet

Elizabeth Barrett Browning died on this day, June 29, in 1861. She was the most famous female poet of the Victorian age, easily outpacing other luminaries like Christina Rossetti and Jean Ingelow (who?). During her lifetime, the rumor was that she only missed the post

Essay / Literature

3 from GKC

On the birthday of G. K. Chesterton (May 29, 1874), here are my three favorites from among his many poems. One for the not yet born, one for those of us making our ways through the everyday, and one for the very old. By The

Essay / Literature

April: An Argument in Poems

April is the cruellest month. So begins, famously, T. S. Eliot’s The Wasteland, a prophetic and incisive poem (albeit abstruse and alienating), capturing in word and image some of the losses and decadences that marked the modern world. April is the cruellest month, breeding Lilacs

Essay / Literature

Behold Your King: Reflections on a Palm Sunday

Christians remember on Palm Sunday the triumphal entry of Christ to Jerusalem–the King of Glory riding to the ostensible seat of his political and religious power, received as victor and Lord with shouts of Hosannas. But there is a great deal about the scene that–at

Essay / Culture

Today H. P. Lovecraft Died (1937)

I know this day is most famous for the death of Julius Caesar, but I did not come to bury Caesar or to praise him. Instead, I want to point out a writer for whom every day was the Ides of March. Howard Phillips Lovecraft

Essay / Literature

Today George Herbert Died (1633)

March 1, 1633, George Herbert died of tuberculosis. He left as his major literary accomplishment a set of poems called The Temple, a nearly inexhaustible source of spiritual insight and guidance. Here is my favorite, The Bunch of Grapes. Joy, I did lock thee up:

Essay / Art

Top Five Christian Comic Books

I sometimes promote myself as the “world’s greatest systematic theologian cartoonist,” because it’s a pretty safe boast. If I ever meet another professional theologian who’s also a published cartoonist, I’ll have to adjust my bragging to something like “one of the two greatest.” But while

Essay / Literature

Today the Pilgrim’s Progress was Published (1678)

Today in 1678 John Bunyan brought out the first version of the Pilgrim’s Progress. He did make some revisions after that first edition, but the book was recognizably itself as soon as it was published. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, famously sophisticated, called this simple book “incomparably