Homer, Virgil, and the Theology of the Underworld

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Among the host of ways Virgil modifies and develops Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, the changes wrought to the underworld are arguably the most substantial. A complex geography forms of punishment, rivers, the abyss and the “places of delight” fills what was a much simpler and more monotonous landscape in Homer. Beyond the setting, Virgil explores his underworld in conjunction [Read More...]

C.S. Lewis: on faces and how to get them

Till We Have Faces front

This morning, Fred Sanders and I participated in a chapel honoring C.S. Lewis’ life and works. Here’s a little reflection on a passage from Till We Have Faces:Be careful of the story you tell yourself. This is some of the best advice my husband has ever given me. And, as we listen to the words [Read More...]

The Praise of Perelandra

Perelandra

Excerpt from a chapel on the stories of C.S. Lewis, at Biola on Dec. 2, 2013.I want to read to you a passage from the second book of Lewis’ Space Trilogy, from the book Perelandra. Though it’s from the final pages of the book, you don’t need any spoiler alert, and there’s no need to [Read More...]

First Lines of Theology Books

Joan Didion once said that the first line of a book is the decisive part. “What’s so hard about that first sentence is that you’re stuck with it. Everything else is going to flow out of that sentence. And by the time you’ve laid down the first two sentences, your options are all gone.”Didion was talking about [Read More...]

The Dazzling Dusk

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There are a few lines from a poem by Coventry Patmore that stick in my mind for their remarkable, evocative power. I first read them in a 1939 anthology by Walter de la Mare called Behold This Dreamer, a rambling collection of prose and poetry about “Reverie, Night, Sleep, Dream, Love-Dreams, Nightmare, Death, the Unconscious, the [Read More...]

Mysteries to Themselves

Milton Paradise Lost angels

The fallen angels in Paradise Lost are of course shockingly wrongheaded in their estimation of God: Lucifer and company, while in heaven, thought they could beat God in a fight, and some of them continue to think so even after they find themselves greatly diminished and in hell. It’s hard to imagine what metric they could [Read More...]

Time

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We are all past, present, and future. While our lives may be bound in the present, what constitutes our “who” has come before, and will be.I am myself, my mother’s child, my child’s mother.The intricacy and interdependency of human lives and human relationships are as complex as time itself, and authors who manage to tell [Read More...]

Razumikhin Haddock

haddock swearing ectoplasm

The character Razumikhin in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment is one of the most personable figures in the book. Intelligent, loyal, resourceful, and generally pleasant, he’s one of the few people you can imagine looking forward to spending a few days with in St. Petersburg. But when he gets mad, he swears like Captain Haddock from [Read More...]

Hebrews: The Mind-blowing Finale

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The book of Hebrews is the grand finale of the first semester in the Torrey Honors Institute. After the freshman fall, the curriculums for Torrey’s two houses take their separate ways: the Morgan House following a roughly chronological path to bring them up to the twentieth century in senior spring and the Johnson House dwelling [Read More...]

Only the Lonely

dostoyevsky

I happened to be re-reading Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment the same weekend that we hosted a recruiting event for the Torrey Honors Institute. As I spent time reflecting on my membership in this learning community, I noticed the stark contrast of the radical isolation that Raskolnikov suffers.Dostoevsky’s Raskolnikov is an intellectual and an idealist, and [Read More...]


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