Made Whole Again: 25 Years of Image

To celebrate Image’s twenty-fifth anniversary we are posting a series of essays by people who have encountered our programs over the years.

Guest post by Paige Eve Chant

I am not the kind of Christian my parents wanted me to be. Case in point: I rarely call myself a Christian in public. These days it seems more of a political statement than I’d like it to be—and often not one I’d care to make.

I just don’t want the ordeal.

Any faith I could be said to have is troubled by doubt, such that most days I do not know where one ends and the other begins. This is not a new problem for me and hardly unique. It is not even, when you come down to it, a problem. It is simply the way of things.

Most days I feel I am a terrible Christian. And most days that’s exactly what I am. [Read more...]

The Shroud of Turin

If you asked me about the Shroud of Turin, I could speak for hours. Before I saw it in Italy one Easter, I read several books on it. So I could tell you the Shroud is a linen cloth, three feet wide and fourteen long, that’s marked with faint front and back images—like those of a sepia photo—of a man in burial pose.

Beginning at one end of the fabric and panning lengthwise towards the other, you can see the front of the man’s body: his ankles, shins, knees, and thighs; his hands shielding his groin; his stomach, chest, beard, and face; his tendriled forehead at mid-length.

From there, continuing on, you can see the man’s back: his hair gathered in a ponytail at the nape of his neck; his shoulders, buttocks, hams, and calves; his heels at the far hem.

You suspect the man’s been scourged. Blood-filled back and buttock wounds bring to mind flagellation by a leather multi-thonged whip, lead pellets tied to tips. Blood-crusted wrist and ankle wounds suggest an ancient crucifixion, iron nail shafts rammed though flesh and bone by pounding rough-hewn heads.

You theorize the man’s been crowned with brambles. Blood has trickled through his locks from myriad scalp and forehead punctures. You surmise the man’s been speared. Serum has puddled at his waist from a right-rib, lance-shaped wound.

[Read more...]

Daniel Amos’s “Dig Here Said the Angel”

Dedicated to Billy Corgan, who challenged Christians to “make better music” and branch out beyond U2’s musical blueprints in an interview with CNN in September. I challenge you to buy and bury yourself in this album, Billy; it sounds nothing like U2—in fact, Daniel Amos influenced U2!

Just as the films Sunset Boulevard and American Beauty are narrated by dead men, so too is the Daniel Amos song “Now That I’ve Died.” Unlike these undead narrators, however, the protagonist of the song is literally better off dead.

“I lost my stiff, stiff neck and my hard, hard heart / my self-respect is off the charts,” he sings. “Just hanging out here on the Other Side / dead to my pride, now that I’ve died.”

The song simmers for most of its duration and ultimately reaches a boil. In five minutes, the band reimagines the resurrection life, and succeeds in clearing the clouds of harpists who spend all of eternity bored out of their God-fearing gourds.

“Now That I’ve Died” is one of many highlights on Dig Here Said the Angel, Daniel Amos’s fourteenth proper studio recording in a career that spans almost forty years. To fund the record, the band launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2012, hoping to raise $14,000; fans donated over $32,000.

The result is my favorite album of 2013 thus far.

[Read more...]

Seamus Heaney: Poet of Holy Saturday

Guest Post by Conor McDonough

The late, great Seamus Heaney understood the sadness of the Irish landscape. He was a poet of bogs, reeds, wells, dripping things, and “mossy places.” He deliberately contrasted his native environment with more fiery regions: “We have no prairies / To slice a big sun at evening.” Instead, in the bog, “The wet centre is bottomless.”

For those whose knowledge of Irish culture is based on Bing Crosby songs, casting such a “grey eye” on Ireland might seem excessively morose. What happened to the carefree little characters of the Emerald Isle and their smiling eyes?

Heaney’s work is a truer expression of the atmosphere of the island and people of Ireland. Yes, there are glorious exceptions to the sorrowful mysteries of the Irish landscape—bright fuchsia in a dark green hedge, shocking white bog-cotton on a dirty bed of turf—but these are exceptions to the rule of lachrymosity.

And all this despite the fact that the Irish people are (or have been) a Christian people. For 1500 years, the saving events of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection have been central to the Irish story, so why is our mood so dark? Are our tearful tendencies simply unredeemed? Is our Christianity just a patina of orthodoxy on a solid mass of fatalistic paganism?

I certainly don’t think so: Irish Christianity has always been solidly orthodox in belief, but it can’t be denied that, emotionally, it leans more toward Good Friday than Easter Sunday.

[Read more...]

Belief and Belonging

Last week I went and watched my son graduate from Virginia Boys State. After the ceremony, I waited through waves of boys in identical white shirts and blue shorts for him to emerge, and when he did, his shoulders were slouched and his eyes tired.

In the car I asked him, “How’d it go?”

He shrugged.

“Did you have a good time?”

“No.”

“Did you learn anything?”

“No.”

“Nothing at all?”

He said no, he hadn’t learned anything.

I kept pressing him, and eventually said, “If you had to give someone your takeaway from this past week in one sentence, what would it be?”

Without pause, he said, “[People of a certain philosophical/political stripe] are assholes.” [Read more...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X