Moving Inland: Stephen Mason and Jars of Clay

Guest post by Angela Doll Carlson

Over the last twenty years of his musical career with Jars of Clay, guitarist Stephen Mason has seen shifts in the landscape of Christian rock as well as those that have taken place with the rise of social media. Mason and his band-mates have been pioneers in the music scene, producing consistently poignant words wrapped in powerful and soul stirring melodies.

Stephen takes a few moments from his daily occupations of music making and barbering to reflect upon his career with Jars and to comment on their scrapes with the sharp edges of social media. [Read more...]

These Frigates, These Chariots

Guest post by Kathleen Housley

It is a sunny morning in early June. A sabbath calm suffuses the empty Mt. Holyoke campus, the students having left for the summer. Other than a jogger, I seem to be the only one around, sitting on the stone steps of Pratt Music Hall listening to the sound of a small waterfall flowing into a nearby brook.

I am waiting for an old blue van, edged with rust, to arrive from Wichita, Kansas, over 1,500 miles away. Belonging to Warren Farha, owner of Eighth Day Books, any minute now it will chug up to the curb loaded down with the contents of an entire bookstore for Image’s Glen East Workshop.

Unfortunately, Warren will not be at the wheel this year due to another obligation; instead Joshua Sturgill, his able associate, is making the grueling twenty-four hour odyssey to South Hadley, Massachusetts. Because I live only an hour south in Connecticut, I have volunteered to help him set up the store in one day—a job so large it is on par with Hercules cleaning out the Augean stables. [Read more...]

Courage in Community: 25 Years of Image

Guest post by Hunter Sharpless

To celebrate Image’s twenty-fifth anniversary we are posting a series of essays by people who have encountered our programs over the years. Read the earlier installments: Stumbling into the WaterfallHenri Nouwen, Reaching OutThe Notecards of Paradise, and 18 Years of Glen Workshops.

Once I eavesdropped on a conversation in the graduate student lounge. A couple of my MFA peers here at the University of Minnesota were discussing a project they were going to call the Post-human Anthology. A snippet of their editorial statement: “We are simply and passionately trying to assemble a constellation of visionary contemporary poetry that challenges humanism by reaching into the volatile beyonds of post-humanism.”

This is today’s avant-garde: A rational materialism so strict that it has moved beyond any distinction between human beings and animals.

Two hours later, off campus, I was with a group of friends that not only believes in the atavistic ideas of the soul and human exceptionalism, but in fact believes that we have been made in the image of a loving, omnipotent God.

Thus swings the intellectual schedule of an evangelical Texan writer.

[Read more...]

Graciously Effaced: Saintseneca’s Dark Arc

Guest post by Isaac Anderson

Last August, Billy Corgan, of Smashing Pumpkins fame, got some press for declaring God the “great, unexplored territory” of rock music.

I’ve thought about Corgan’s comment of late, while listening to the record that’s been on repeat in my apartment the last month. Saintseneca’s Dark Arc is a meditation on doom, according to Zac Little, the band’s frontman and lyricist. Though that word may mislead, for this record is bleak at times, but luminous too. Nods to death or impermanence are often met with a resistance to the same:

If only the good ones die young
I pray your corruption come
Swift like a thief in the night
Right I pluck my right eye right out

Little is a fighter, of sorts—When I crave a split lip, he sings in “Happy Alone,” I’ll get it quick—and the doom expressed here wakes the listener to the appetites bucking beneath apathy, the desire to not go down without a fight.

[Read more...]

Avoiding the Mirror

Guest post by Cathy Warner

I have circled around this story several times, trying to write my way into it.

I begin with an inciting event:

An eighty-nine year-old man lies unconscious, unresponsive in intensive care in a California hospital. His name is Vince and he was hit by a car in the town he’s lived in near forty years, the same town that was my home for twenty-five.

I am now nine hundred miles north, but in my mind I see the pharmacy he left, the crosswalk, his wife waiting in their minivan parked outside the beauty parlor. I picture her stumbling from the car with her uneven gait, pedestrians rushing to her side, to his aide, sprinting to the fire department down the block for help.

I read the news on Facebook first, that “an elderly gentleman” had been hit, and stopped at this description of him. Though he’d been retired from his work as missionary to Pakistan the twenty-five years I’d known him, he was far from gentle.

From there my words add up to a litany of how hard this man—who died days later from his injuries—was to love, a long complaint about our relationship.

It doesn’t work. My editor tells me: “Basically you still believe he was deeply misguided about most everything and that you have the correct ideas, so the piece just becomes a ‘He was wrong and overbearing and fearful but we’re still all one in Christ.’”

[Read more...]


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