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Wearing God: A Conversation with Lauren F. Winner, Part 2

lauren winnerContinued from yesterday.

Image: A lot of history makes its way into your new book Wearing God, especially American history. Could you talk about what you think makes a good history book, the kind you like to read?

LW: Two things come to mind, and they don’t always show up in the same book. Some historical episodes lend themselves to almost novelistic writing, and in the last twenty-five years there has been a lot of interest among historians in taking craft seriously, experimenting with narrative form. You see it in writers like John Demos and Simon Schama.

That said, there are plenty of excellent, interesting history books that aren’t so much narratively interesting as they are interesting because of the argument they make or the evidence they’ve uncovered. I have always enjoyed so-called microhistories, where instead of writing a monograph about crime in early America, someone writes a case study of one infanticide in seventeenth-century Braunschweig.

I often enjoy this kind of history the way I enjoy a short story or novel. A favorite of mine is A Midwife’s Tale by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, which is essentially an exegesis of the diary of a midwife on the frontier of Maine at the turn of the nineteenth century. Ulrich’s book turned out to be quite helpful when, in writing Wearing God, I turned my attention to the Hebrew Bible’s likening God to a midwife. [Read more...]

Wearing God: A Conversation with Lauren F. Winner, Part 1

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Lauren F. Winner’s new book, Wearing God: Clothing, Laughter, Fire, and Other Overlooked Ways of Meeting God, is excerpted in our spring issue of Image. Each chapter explores a single biblical image of God through a mix of exegesis, cultural history, and personal essay. Image’s Mary Kenagy Mitchell recently asked her about her new book, her love of history, her punctuation, and the politics of writing about the Bible:

Image: Your new book is about overlooked images of God in the Bible. I imagine there were some images you found that didn’t make it in. Could you talk about some of those?

LW: In the scriptures there are a lot of animal and nature images for God—water and rock and so on. I’m especially interested in two that liken God to dew and to a tree. I’ve spent time with the tree image, thinking about what trees are, and I have a nascent spiritual practice of tree gazing, where I regularly stare at a magnolia in my yard as a practice of attentiveness.

[Read more...]

The Contemporary Literature & Faith Debate: Weblinks

As many of our readers know, there has been a lively debate over the past year concerning the condition of contemporary literature as it engages religious faith.

Because that debate has been conducted over many different venues, we’ve received requests for a list of weblinks that would enable readers to follow the conversation.

That’s what we’ve done below. Feel free to add further thoughts about this conversation in the comments section.

Paul Elie, “Has Fiction Lost Its Faith?”

D.G. Myers, “The Novel of Belief

Gregory Wolfe, “Whispers of Faith in a Postmodern World

Dana Gioia, “The Catholic Writer Today

Gregory Wolfe, “Cultural Anorexia: Doubting the Decline of Faith in Fiction

Gregory Wolfe, “The Catholic Writer, Then and Now” (expanded version of “Cultural Anorexia”)

Paul Elie, Dappled Things interview (include comments on Wolfe’s “Whispers of Faith” article)

[Read more...]

Controlling the Shot

Guest Post

By Tyler McCabe

We set sail for Robben Island prison at noon amid five-foot swells. The Atlantic was dark and agitated like a clubbed fish, and my camera pitched around my neck. We would be attending the official educational tour of the island.

Viewing, that is, the whole God-awful shebang: communal cells which held civilians and activists during apartheid, single cells which held Muslim leaders from the East Indies and indigenous African leaders, the limestone quarry where prisoners worked with pick and spade, the graveyard for lepers, the church for officers, and the maximum security cell where South Africa’s first democratic president, Nelson Mandela, was held for eighteen years.

The ferry churning through Table Bay held sixteen hunkering tourists composing a small army of sight: thirty-two eyes, sixteen cameras. We strapped cameras to our bodies like firearms. [Read more...]

Arts and Faith Oscars 2013 Chat

Join Image’s Arts and Faith discussion community for a live Oscars Night chat below! All are welcome.
The chat is now closed. Thanks to everyone who spent Oscars night with us, and see you in 2014!


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