A Metaphorical God, Part 1

St-thomas-aquinasThe following is adapted from the preface to The Operation of Grace: Further Essays on Art, Faith, and Mystery.

My God, my God, thou art a direct God, may I not say a literal God, a God that wouldst be understood literally and according to the plain sense of all that thou sayest? but thou art also…a figurative, a metaphorical God too; a God in whose words there is such a height of figures, such voyages, such peregrinations to fetch remote and precious metaphors, such extensions, such spreadings, such curtains of allegories, such third heavens of hyperboles, so harmonious elocutions, so retired and so reserved expressions, so commanding persuasions, so persuading commandments, such sinews even in thy milk, and such things in thy words, as all profane authors seem of the seed of the serpent that creeps, thou art the Dove that flies.—John Donne, Devotions upon Emergent Occasions

The essays gathered in The Operation of Grace: Further Essays on Art, Faith, and Mystery were originally published as editorial statements, each beginning an issue of Image. They seek to explore the trinity of terms we’ve set forth in the journal’s subtitle, “art, faith, mystery.” Whether these words strike you as intriguing or pretentious may depend on your personal tastes, but anyone proposing them for consideration ought to have an explanation or two handy for the curious. [Read more...]

Why We Donate: Two 24-Year-Olds on Meaningful Support

Today, Image Director of Programs Tyler McCabe and Marketing Associate Aubrey Allison share their perspectives on the future of art, fostering a culture of empathy, and the role of religion in a thriving inner life.

Brothers and Sisters 1_rgd cropped small
Ruth Weisberg. Sisters and Brothers (detail): Wellspring.

Citizens of the Future

By Tyler McCabe

When I was seventeen I took a course in environmental biology at my local community college. The professor charged into the classroom on our first day, spilled her raincoat and bags around the lectern, and shouted in the language of fanfare: Welcome, citizens of the future!

By the end of this course, she said, we would begin to envision ourselves this way, as citizens riding waves of our own creation, agents of actions rippling forward. And she was not shy about implicating our wallets—even my adolescent wallet with my trickle of income.

We vote with our dollars, she said. It’s the truest vote we have. For example, when you buy a hamburger at McDonald’s, you are voting Yes, I approve of the whole environment surrounding this product: the farming practices, the treatment of the farmers and plant processing staff, the global franchise system, the foundation’s efforts, the pay and benefits of the employees, the waste disposal—all of it.

In the fullness of its action, your $1.39 buys you a big question.

What will be the environment of my future citizenship? [Read more...]

The Ardent Whisper of God

12glenGuest post by A.N. Muia

The following post is adapted from a talk given at the 2014 Glen Workshop in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

I came to the Glen Workshop while on sabbatical. For fourteen years, I’ve served as a minister to Mexican migrant workers, jail inmates, and addicts at the ministry of Tierra Nueva in Washington State.

The sabbatical was my chance to finally focus on writing, a lifelong passion that had gone dormant during the busy years of ministry. My inner voices told me that it was difficult to justify writing fiction when people are struggling and dying from addiction. Ministry updates became my primary genre. And testimonies. And grants.

But a novel about Baja California—a world of colonial missions, priests, soldiers, indigenous, pearl divers and saint-makers, the roguish and the devoted—lay dying in my drawer. [Read more...]

Greg Wolfe Made Me a Better Writer: 25 Years of Image

proofreadingGuest post by William Coleman

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

My first task at Image was to write to Ray Bradbury. That, I told my disbelieving self, was my job: to send proof pages of new work to the man whose old work so absorbed me at fifteen that all I could do for a year was write version after watered-down version of Dandelion Wine.

What saved my cover letter from devolving into a Chris Farley SNL sketch (“You remember when you said the birds scattered like skipped stones across the inverted pond of heaven? Yeah…that was…that was awesome.”) was my overweening desire not to be sent home on the very morning I began acting as managing editor of Image: A Journal of the Arts and Religion.

Luckily for me, my predecessor, Richard Wilkinson, had left some ready language in the Dell, and I was able to maintain my position.

Close to six, Image’s founder Greg Wolfe returned from his think-tank day job somewhere in the woods of Delaware and invited me to join him and his wife Suzanne in their living room for drinks. To accomplish this, I walked all of thirty feet. In those days, the whole of Images office space comprised Greg’s study, next to the family laundry room.

[Read more...]

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...]


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