Linocuts by Gail Brodholt
This should be my last newsletter of the year — I’m off to London for a week after which, you know, as the old line goes, Christmas is at our throats. But I have really enjoyed preparing this newsletter and hope to continue through the next year.
One other thing: I am continually surprised by how much email I get in response to these issues, almost all of it very positive. But the volume creates a problem: I just can’t get to all of it, especially at times of year (e.g. right now, at the end of the semester) when my email load is already extremely heavy. Apologies!
I’m going to London for a couple of reasons. First, to see the massive Blake exhibition at the Tate Britain, which Chris Beha at Harper’s has asked me to write about (probably for their website rather than the magazine). Second, I’ll be doing further research for a book I have long hoped to write — though no one except me seems interested in the idea — a history of Christian London. London has played a major and fascinating role in the history of Christianity, and I’d like to tell that story some day, though I feel that I don’t know nearly enough to do so. On this visit I’ll be in museums and libraries, but hope also to make my way to some of the Advent and pre-Christmas services on offer, for instance at All Souls Langham Place.
Peter Luty, Artist and Printmaker
When Teri and I are asked what our favorite movie is — not what we think the greatest movie is, but what our personal favorite is — we give the same answer. Its enshrinement in the Criterion Collection is overdue, but very welcome. It’s not a Christmas movie — it takes place over a few days during a North Sea summer — and yet we seem to find ourselves watching it every holiday season. (N.B. It’s an oddball of a movie, and some of those to whom we’ve recommended it over the years don’t get it at all. But what we love we love.) As it happens, Bill Forsyth did make a movie with a Christmas setting, and while it’s an enjoyable film, it ain’t a classic. Local Hero is a classic.
I wrote a post on what’s hidden in Terrence Malick’s A Hidden Life.
99% Invisible is always an outstanding podcast, but the episode on the Infantorium is one of its best ever. I got a little teary.
Our ongoing cultural debate about how to deal with the art or ideas of nasty men is one I don’t know how to resolve. I have different responsese to different people, and I don’t really know why. For instance, I can’t read the theology of John Howard Yoder — I just can’t — but I can still look at the work of Eric Gill, though not without remembering how wicked he could be. All I can say is that no book is more beautiful to me than his Four Gospels — I have the Folio Society edition and it’s one of my treasures.