Now is the Time to Read The Man in the High Castle

the-man-in-the-high-castle-by-chris-drumm-via-flickrImagine an alternate history in which a regime arose in the United States that believed in power over equality, profit over values, the privilege of the few over the good of the many, and appearance over truth.

Imagine these powers infiltrated the highest offices of our government, and that they began to institute anti-democratic policies, to undermine the system of checks and balances, to destabilize international relations, and to generally dismantle the foundations of our country while propping up their own narrow interests.

Well, maybe it’s not so hard to imagine. A year ago, it might have been. In fact, a year ago it would have sounded like the stuff of science fiction. [Read more…]

Why Annie Dillard Supports Image

Annie Dillard illustrated by Alissa BerkhanDear readers,

When Image was founded in 1989, we turned to a few literary exemplars for endorsements. After all, we had no reputation, money, or power, so we needed to find advocates whose words carried authority.

One of the first we turned to was Pulitzer Prize-winner Annie Dillard, whose incandescent prose dealt with some of the deepest and most challenging questions, from the existence of God to the mystery of nature, which can possess so much beauty and so much brutality.

To our great surprise and delight, she responded with her usual gusto, stating in her endorsement that “Image is one of the best journals on the planet.”

So as we launched our end of year financial appeal last month we decided to chance asking her again to say why she still reads (and comments on!) every issue of Image.

Once again she responded with her signature blend of passion and truth-telling. What follows below is not marketing language. It is, verbatim, Annie Dillard’s thoughts about where we are as a culture and why Image is worth supporting. After writing it she joked that this is the most she has written since retiring from literary life! [Read more…]

Good Letters Is My Devotional

Image Glen OnlineBy Cathy Warner

I came to Christianity in my mid-twenties and joined a Protestant church whose denominational arm publishes devotional booklets that called to mind the copies of Watchtowers Jehovah’s Witnesses used to foist on me.

As a new believer, I was supposed to develop a disciplined spiritual life, the cornerstone being morning devotions: Rise at dawn, open the booklet, read the single line opening prayer, open the Bible to the selected lectionary verse, etc.

But I’m an insomniac who began my sleep-deprived days with a quick shower and breakfast eaten while commuting. I tossed the tiny booklets with their small font and facile prose in the recycling, unread.

By the early 2000s I was writing poetry, prayers, and meditations for my congregation and denomination. Finally, in the act of writing itself, I had found a form of spiritual discipline. I never woke at dawn, but I remained faithful to the practice.

Though I was adept at writing the devotional formula, it quickly began to feel constrictive. I wanted to read outside the “inspirational” genre. I began to hunger for risky, authentic, platitude-free writing that could inspire my own clumsy efforts.

I shared my longing with an artist-painter-pastor who recommended Image. [Read more…]

The Gift of Interdependence

Glen Workshop Aubrey Allison poetry classBy Camellia Freeman

This story has many beginnings.

It begins with the great state of Ohio where I’d made my home for eight years. We lived in Columbus, and on late nights my husband and I would walk its city streets during summers so thick you could wade through them, cicada choruses surging like electric currents through the air, and we would talk at length about how I both dreaded and longed for the day we might leave.

It begins with the persistent loneliness that can make up the writing life, often paired with persistent doubt.

It begins with what I had dubbed the Season of Closed Doors, a season that seemed to go on and on, almost laughably—a sobering reminder that when you choose something, you are choosing it at the exclusion of all else and that the possibilities were never as endless as they seemed. Or with my fantasies about a writing mentor, or the feeling that I was finally in the right project, one that might someday, actually, concretely, become a real first “book.”

Or perhaps it best begins with Greg Wolfe’s phone call one April afternoon when he extended the offer of the pinch-me-I-must-be-dreaming Milton Fellowship, and I took it.

This is a story about being welcomed into the Image community, which means that it is a story about true gifts. [Read more…]

What We Talk About When We Talk About Beauty

fons-heijnsbroek-abstract-sescape-and-diagonal-on-flickrI have beauty on the mind. No doubt a result of my ongoing debate with Gregory Wolfe (running into its fourth iteration now). We’ve been chatting, lo these many weeks, about the relevance of the religious voice to contemporary debates on aesthetical matters.

When you’re talking about aesthetics, the question of beauty tends to rear its head sooner or later. This can be a scary moment. That’s because it’s hard to talk about beauty—hard, even, to define in any satisfying way what beauty is. Give it a go yourself if you don’t believe me. Define beauty. [Read more…]