Blog Posts, Lectures, Podcasts

Blog Posts and Online Articles

“Figuring Hope – Imagination and the Horizon of Christian Longing” (Transpositions: Theology, Imagination and the Arts, April 16, 2021).

Written during Lent in 2021, I here reflect on the crucial role imagination plays in nurturing hope in the soul in a world that often presents us with a temptation to despair.

“Dwelling in Advent Darkness: Wonder in Relation to Mercy and Justice” (The Cultivating Journal, volume 15, December 2020).

In this piece, written for Advent 2020, I reflect upon the relation of justice to mercy, and the role of wonder in relation to each. I am arguing for the courage to sit with God’s judgment (rather than flee from it) until we come to that place where we can see that God’s judgment is also mercy.

“Beauty in the Darkness: A Surprising Encounter with God’s Omnipresence” (Credo Magazine, September, 2020).

Our lives are beset by darkness: darkness that is forced upon us, and darkness that we inflict on ourselves. The scandal of this darkness is that we not only find beauty in it, but at times even find it beautiful. In this piece, I argue that this is because as we flee from the presence of God into the darkness, we discover just what the omnipotence of God really means.

“(Don’t) Take and Eat: The Eucharist and Spiritual Reception” (Covenant, the blog of the Living Church Foundation, April 2, 2020)

I wrote this article for the Living Church in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, when churches around the world were closed due to government orders for citizens to remain at home. In it I reflect on the practice of spiritual communion: to receive the Eucharist even when one is not able to receive the elements.

“Abandonment, Hope, and Glory: Reflections on Psalm 22” (Visual Commentary on Scripture)

Psalm 22, of David, is a heart-wrenching cry for help. The Psalmist sees himself beset on all sides by enemies and mockers. It underwent a powerful transformation at the crucifixion, when Christ took its opening words into his own mouth in what has come to be known as the cry of dereliction: ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34).

In this exhibit I explore this connection further by reflecting on three works of art that serve to offer an imaginative entry into Christ’s experience on the cross and what his quoting of this Psalm might mean when the full context of the Psalm is restored.

“Why Does Beauty Arouse Joy Even Among Suffering?” (Church Life Journal, August 22, 2018)

This short, technical piece for the Church Life Journal gathers up some stray thoughts I had after I finished the manuscript for The Father of Lights. In it I reflect on the relation of beauty to the fruit of the Spirit, which appear as a gifted response to the divine offer of self one encounters in the experience of beauty.

Public Lectures

“Wonder: A Quotidian Necessity” (Beimfohr-Neuss Lecture, Cornell University, October 3, 2019)

The duties of managing work, home and relationships present a tyranny of daily tasks whose urgency is grounded in their practical necessity: these are the things without which we cannot live life at all or well. Given the time demands placed on us by these responsibilities, time spent developing the imagination and cultivating our sense of wonder is often at best seen as a luxury we can ill afford, and at worst as dangerously distracting flights of fancy. And yet, can we really believe that we can live life well without the space to breathe that only imagination can provide? Properly understood, imagination and wonder are not luxuries, but necessary equipment for living whose value is neither only fanciful or only practical.

“Creating in the Ruins: Sacred Theatre Outside the Church: A Performance in Five Movements” (Imagination Redeemed 2019 Keynote Address, April 27, 2019)

Beauty is captured in our liturgy and worshiped personally in Christ, but it is also extravagant, refusing to be bound by the walls of the sanctuary. But this omnipresence of beauty outside the sacred space is grounded in the trinitarian fountain of beauty, and forms the most compelling point of contact for demonstrating to the world the beauty of holiness. In an authentic Christian life, art and witness coincide to form a summons the world can rarely ignore.

“Bringing Art Back into Church” (Imagination Redeemed 2019 panel, April 26, 2019)

What does it mean to create art for church worship? In this panel discussion from the Imagination Redeemed 2019 conference, I join Hans Boersma, John Skillen, and Brian Brown to discuss sacred art: what it is, how we lost it, and how we can bring beauty back into our sanctuaries.

“The Eyes of Faith: Beauty and the Vision of God” (C.S. Lewis Foundation Summer Conference Plenary Address, July 9, 2016)

In this lecture, following up on the lecture given to the Anselm Society, I explore the conditions that allow us to see more beauty in the world, namely sanctification of our lives that issues in the possession of eyes of faith.

“What If God’s Not Invisible: Finding the Creator in an Ugly World” (Anselm Society, Colorado Springs, Public Lecture, October 3, 2015)

We’ve all been moved by something beautiful, be it the majestic glory of a snow-capped mountain or the homey chords of a country song. And most of us have been told that beauty can point us to God. But this often clashes with how we’re used to approaching God, where we’ve taught ourselves that beyond our daily bread, it is only the invisible and spiritual that matter.

How would God have us think about beauty? We often find God in unexpected places, but are there places we should expect to find Him? Can we balance the earthly beauty that moves us and the God of beauty that made it?

In this conversation, I explore why beauty moves and inspires us, and how we were made to encounter God more deeply through it.

“Illumination through the Life of the Believer” (Wheaton College Chapel, November 19, 2010).


“Junius Johnson: The Experience and Idea of Beauty” (Luminous: Conversations on Sacred Arts, February 26, 2021)

A conversation with Peter Bouteneff, director of the Institute of the Sacred Arts at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary, about beauty. The conversation, ranging widely over a variety of arts, explores more deeply topics covered in The Father of Lights.

“How to Watch a Summer Blockbuster” (Forma Podcast, July 2019)

I talk with managing editor Heidi White about how and why Christians can enjoy big-budget blockbuster films and franchises. Covering particular film franchises and universal points of discussion and evaluation, Heidi and I discuss how (and how not) to go to the movies this summer.

“After the Endgame” (Believe to See Podcast, Episode 53)

In the afterglow of Marvel’s Avengers saga, I stopped by the Anselm Society’s Believe to See podcast to talk about the moral landscape of the films, and their enduring legacy.