Adele Gallogly

REFLECTIONS & REVIEWS


Leave a comment

Magazines for Thoughtful Christians

TIN-677 Magazines for Thoughtful_large_all

In a recent issue of The Banner, I compiled some suggestions of Christian magazines and journals to add to your reading list. Here are some to consider:

Comment: Produced by Cardus, a Canada-based Christian think tank, this magazine is grounded in a Reformed, biblical worldview that all of life is being redeemed by God and worthy of faithful attention. Its lively essays and timely, well-researched articles celebrate the multifaceted areas of human existence—vocation, family, worship, politics, economics—as opportunities to freshly proclaim God’s grace in a broken world. Tip: The recent The Comment Reader anthology is an excellent way to acquaint (or reacquaint) yourself with the magazine.

Geez: Definitely progressive and defiantly hopeful, this magazine highlights the role of social justice activism in living out a Christ-like response to the complex—and often controversial—realities of the world. Each issue uses poetry, personal essays, news stories, and photos to explore hard-hitting questions about such topics as poverty, politics, creation care, race, and gender identity.

Image: Since 1989, Image has been demonstrating that contemporary art can do more than merely express faith. When crafted well, it can embody the very struggles and paradoxes at the heart of Judeo-Christian religion. The journal is an array of poetry, fiction, longer essays, artist profiles, and interviews that seeks to engage your imagination and invite you to see God’s image in every human being. Features the work of both modern masters and emerging artists.

Relief: This literary journal features fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, graphic narrative, and reviews by both new and established authors. It is a publication that boldly aims to rise above a saccharine or easy view of Christian faith by artfully revealing how belief and doubt can intersect in surprising, varied, and beautiful ways in one’s spiritual journey.

The Other Journal: Presented by the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology, this journal blends academic scholarship with cultural critique, primarily through creative writing. Each issue is organized around a theme in the topical sphere of theology, art, and social justice. Recent themes include “Identity,” “Sport,” “Encounter,” and “Trauma.”


1 Comment

Dog Songs by Mary Oliver

jpoliver-articleLargeProlific poet Mary Oliver has always displayed an unabashed love for animals and a special talent for pondering affection, beauty, and grief through the world’s smallest creatures. Her recently published poetry collection, Dog Songshonors the canine companions that have brightened her life and work.maryoliverdogsongs

Oliver praises dogs for their loyalty, playfulness, and “steadfastness”; she laughs at them and mourns for them. She even imagines what they might say to her in human language. “Love and company are the adornments/that change everything,” one of her dogs ‘says’—a simple line that carries much wisdom. Ultimately, this collection is about affection beyond words—and without conditions. You do not have to be a pet owner to appreciate Dog Songs as a unique and moving portrait of how our relationship with animals can remind us, as Oliver says, “how rich it is to love the world.” (Review originally published in The Banner)


Leave a comment

Brilliant Falls by John Terpstra

One poem in John Terpstra’s latest collection, Brilliant Falls, is the story of a “holy raving protester” who climbed a tree to oppose the building of a highway. The poem begins with the often-quoted first verses of Revelation 21. However, the whole collection demonstrates Terpstra’s brilliant ability to see the “new heaven and the new earth” in both the beautiful and the troubling moments of the here and now.

These are poems of wonder, bewilderment, bereavement, and amusement. Several are first-person encounters with death and difficult life changes. Terpstra’s imagery feels personal and communal, local and eternal. Seniors’ home residents move across a linoleum floor “as though they are walking on water”; closets and dresser drawers of childhood are “as private as prayer.” This is a collection for anyone seeking to celebrate the sacred edges of everyday life, written by a master poet. (Review originally published in The Banner)


Leave a comment

Tony Dekker’s Prayer of the Woods

Image

Prayer of the Woods is the solo offering by Tony Dekker, lead singer of the Canadian folk-rock group Great Lake Swimmers. Long-time followers of his band will likely note the resemblance to the sparsely intimate guitar-and-voice sound of their early work and appreciate Dekker’s consistently wildlife-rich lyrics. These are unique songs of solitude, though—wistful new explorations of love, memory, mortality, and dreams.

It is easy to visualize Dekker on a personal pilgrimage through forests and fields—“in exile in the oaks/Exile in the firs, exile in the birch.” The title track, based on an anonymous poem found on hand-carved signs on many North American hiking trails, is a tender call to find spiritual sanctity in the natural world. Although Dekker never mentions Christ directly, this gently inviting album might still bring to listeners’ minds Jesus himself, who would often slip away to the wilderness and pray (Luke 5:16).


Leave a comment

Paula Huston’s A Land Without Sin

4fcbbcb6d83f6b3285e506768722ab2fPaula Huston’s novel  A Land Without Sin is a gripping spiritual journey set in Mexico in 1993 amid escalating civil conflict. Eva, a seasoned American photojournalist, treks through jungle caves and guerilla territories in search of her missing brother. Eva loves Stephen dearly, but she is unsettled by his deep Christian faith and by hints of family secrets he has withheld.

In a brilliant move, Huston gives her reader immediate access to Stephen by interspersing Eva’s first-person narration with letters he wrote before his disappearance. “What am I, a would-be monk, a lover of the desert fathers and contemplative prayer, doing in the middle of this hotbed?” he asks in one letter. While this is the question driving Eva’s mission, the story itself is a daring plunge into life’s central mysteries, including the nature of evil, the challenge of friendship, and the complex application of mercy in a broken world.

In the video below, Paula Huston talks about the interplay of doubt and faith in her novel. 


2 Comments

Memorizing Mercy

Attention is the beginning of devotion.
—Mary Oliver

open-bible-444118-mIn elementary school I loved the rhythms of “memory work”—from reading the Scripture passage in class to taking it home to be written out again or pasted on the fridge or recited aloud with my hands covering the verses. And I was glad to have new words and mysterious phrases in my mind.

Sadly this communal grade school activity did not work its way into a personal adult devotional practice. In recent years I have memorized mostly academic formulas and facts, along with a few poems and favorite sentences. But I have not engaged with Scripture this way.

I’m sure I am missing out on an enriching experience, though. I think of friends who recalled passages in times of deep sorrow or overwhelming joy. I also think of the testimonies of those imprisoned for their faith who clung to memorized verses in the solitary darkness.

New Yorker piece I read on the virtues of memorizing poetry pointed out that “if we do not learn [poetry] by heart, the heart does not feel the rhythms of poetry as echoes or variations of its own insistent beat.” I am sure it is the same with Scripture.

So I am attempting to get back into the practice of memory work.

I have started, as perhaps most do, with a psalm—Psalm 103. It happened to be a recent “verse of the day” on my smartphone. Sometimes I read a digital version of Scripture or listen to an audio; other times I read verses I have copied out or use a Bible.

But whichever way I read Scripture, I read it as a work about memory: a startling revelation of God’s character that reminds me of all he has done—in the past and in the present, for me and for all. “Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me,” says David. I too long for that faithful recollection.

The version I have settled on is the New Living Translation. To me, the “let” language this translation employs speaks of invitation and reliance on God. I remember that I am listening here—letting God’s truth go through me as I continue to develop my memory for his unfailing mercy. As I memorize this passage, I hope I will also personalize it as a kind of prayer, recalling particular instances of God’s goodness and offering up my struggles to a Father who “knows how weak we are; he remembers that we are only dust.”

I have only been with this psalm for a short while. My memory still trails off and ultimately fails to hold it in its entirety. Some days I still neglect to look at it—or any Scripture—at all.

But I am determined to return again and again to the Word—to attune myself to the insistent heart of God and let myself fall into the beat of its persistent mercy.

(Originally published in The Banner magazine)


1 Comment

Dave Harrity’s Making Manifest

Making_Manifest_Cover_1024x1024Are you a writer daunted by the task of daily creative practice? Dave Harrity’s Making Manifest is a 28-day devotional/craft book designed to revitalize your artistic routine and “awaken and renew [your] faith in the power of the Incarnation.” Harrity, a poet himself, invites you to prayerfully reflect on Scripture, mine your personal experiences, and observe the sensory world around you—all the while using  your own words to respond to prompts and exercises. He makes it clear that every piece of writing is meant to be an access point to inspiration, not an instantly publishable work—which should comfort those who are especially intimidated by writing poetry.

Harrity’s voice is encouraging yet tenacious; he knows that artists often need firm coaching to keep going. Writers from all disciplines will surely appreciate the chance to “more fully enter the deep world of words” through this dynamic, Kingdom-focused journey of contemplation and creativity.

You can learn more about Making Manifest and watch a video trailer for it here.