Beauty is just as significant to our spiritual and moral lives as truth and goodness. Sarah Clarkson has often found this beauty in literature. Grace welcomes Sarah, author of This Beautiful Truth: How God’s Goodness Breaks Into Our Darkness, to discuss the intersections between story, beauty, and suffering. Along the way, some very recognizable names come up as sources of profound beauty in literature: J.R.R. Tolkien, L.M. Montgomery, George Eliot, and more… Listen on the podcasting platform of your choice!
Sarah Clarksonis a writer who loves to explore the intersection of story, suffering, and beauty. She studied theology (BTh, MSt) at Oxford and has authored a number of books, most recently This Beautiful Truth: How God’s Goodness Breaks Into Our Darkness. She mulls life and books in her newsletter, A Note From Sarah, presents seminars on great novels and theology, and hosts read-aloud fellowships on Patreon and Instagram. She can usually be found with either a book or a cup of tea in hand in the Oxford vicarage she shares with her Anglican priest husband, Thomas, and their three children. You can find her at sarahclarkson.com.
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Grace welcomes Gina Dalfonzo, editor of The Gospel in Dickens (Plough Publishing House) and founder and editor of Dickensblog, to chat all things Charles Dickens. What is the appeal of this wordy writer (whom, as Gina reminds us, was NOT paid by the word)? Join Gina and Grace for a fun conversation discussing why we love and return to Charles Dickens over and over despite his foibles and flaws.
Gina Dalfonzo is the author of Dorothy and Jack: The Transforming Friendship of Dorothy L. Sayers and C.S. Lewis and One by One: Welcoming the Singles in Your Church (both for Baker Books), and editor of The Gospel in Dickens (Plough Publishing House). She is a writer and editor at Christ and Pop Culture, and founder and editor of Dickensblog. Her work has been published in The Atlantic, Christianity Today, Plough Quarterly, The Weekly Standard, Fathom, and elsewhere. She publishes a biweekly book review newsletter, “Dear, Strange Things,” at http://dearstrangethings.substack.com. She enjoys playing the piano, gardening, and watching figure skating and classic movies.
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Recording this episode was a bit of a trip. Dr. Eleanor Parker was very gracious with me as my microphone failed to do its ONE JOB–recording. Oh well! We still had a delightful time discussing Old English words, the Anglo-Saxon calendar year, and what she recommends for reading if you’re interested in Old English poetry.
Eleanor Parker is Lecturer in Medieval English Literature at Brasenose College, Oxford. She is the author of Dragon Lords: The History and Legends of Viking England (2018), Conquered: The Last Children of Anglo-Saxon England (2022), and Winters in the World: A Journey Through the Anglo-Saxon Year (2022). She has also written for History Today and is the creator of the Clerk of Oxford blog.
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On the season premiere of Old Books With Grace, Grace welcomes Dr. Zena Hitz, author of Lost in Thought: The Hidden Pleasures of an Intellectual Life, tutor at St. John’s College, and founder of the Catherine Project. Why is it important to love learning for its own sake and not instrumentalize it? How can we cultivate an intellectual life? What does Augustine of Hippo mean by curiositas? Hear Grace and Dr. Hitz’s thoughts on these questions and more…
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Zena Hitz is a Tutor at St. John’s College in Annapolis, where she has the joy of teaching great books of mathematics, science, and literature, as well as in her home fields of classics and philosophy. She recieved an M.Phil. in Classics from Cambridge University (1996) and a PhD in Philosophy from Princeton University (2005). Her academic work has focused upon Aristotle. More recently, Dr. Hitz has offered public defense for learning for its own sake, including in her book Lost In Thought: The Hidden Pleasures of an Intellectual Life (Princeton, 2020). Her essays on the importance of humanistic study have appeared in Commonweal, First Things, New Statesman, Washington Post, Womankind and elsewhere. In 2020, Dr. Hitz founded the Catherine Project, a non-profit which hosts serious conversations on great books, open to everyone. Her new book for general audiences, A Philosopher Looks at the Religious Life (Cambridge, 2023), gives an account of the Christian ascetical tradition and its importance in everyday life.
Welcome to the third episode of the Lent series on Old Books with Grace, exploring literature, self-knowledge, and transformation. In today’s A Book that Changed Me, Grace chats with Kaitlyn Schiess about Madeleine L’Engle’s marvelous young adult novel, A Wrinkle in Time.
Kaitlyn Schiess is the author of The Ballot and the Bible: How Scripture has been Used and Abused in American Politics and Where We Go from Here (Brazos, 2023) and The Liturgy of Politics: Spiritual Formation for the Sake of Our Neighbor (IVP, 2020). Her writing has appeared at Christianity Today, The New York Times, Christ and Pop Culture, RELEVANT, and Sojourner. She has a ThM in systematic theology from Dallas Theological Seminary and is currently a doctoral student in political theology at Duke Divinity School.
In this last episode of the season, Grace welcomes Dr. Fritz Bauerschmidt to chat about reading difficult authors of the past, like Thomas Aquinas, the love of God as the central feature of Christianity, and the flexibility and strength of tradition.
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Frederick Christian (Fritz) Bauerschmidt is Professor of Theology at Loyola University Maryland, specializing in medieval and modern Catholic theology, and a deacon of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, assigned to the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen. He is the author of several books, most recently The Love That is God: An Invitation to Christian Faith (Eerdmans 2020), The Essential Summa Theologiae: A Reader and Commentary (Baker Academic 2021), and How Beautiful the World Could Be: Christian Reflections on the Everyday (Eerdmans 2022).
Grace welcomes Dr. Chris Armstrong to the podcast to talk about his book, Medieval Wisdom for Modern Christians, and think through medieval Christian humanism’s influence on C.S. Lewis, and how some of these medieval ideas might help think more creatively and faithfully about community, faith, and history today.
Dr. Chris R Armstrong is an educator, academic entrepreneur, author, editor, and church historian (Duke Ph.D., Gordon-Conwell M.A.). He currently serves as Program Fellow in Faith, Work, and Economics for the Kern Family Foundation (WI). He taught from 2004 to 2013 at Bethel Seminary (MN). From 2014 to 2018 he served as faculty member and founding director of the Opus faith & vocation initiative at Wheaton College (IL). His Medieval Wisdom for Modern Christians: Finding Authentic Faith in a Forgotten Age with C S Lewis (Brazos, 2016) retrieves the Christian humanism of the Middle Ages. Chris serves as Senior Editor of Christian History magazine and blogs at gratefultothedead.com. He enjoys playing tabletop games with friends, listening to jazz, and improving his jazz piano skills.
There’s a new podcast episode out today! Dr. Beth Allison Barr, author of Making Biblical Womanhood, is here and we are talking about history and how it shapes us, resisting the urge to impose our norms and ideas back onto the past, about medieval women, gender-bending medieval saints, good places to start reading medieval texts, and more fascinating topics…
Beth Allison Barr (PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) is James Vardaman Professor of History at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where she specializes in medieval history, women’s history, and church history. She recently served as president of the Conference on Faith and History (2018-2021) and is an active supporter of Christians for Biblical Equality. Barr is a regular contributor to The Anxious Bench, the popular Patheos website on religious history, and has written for Christianity Today, the Washington Post, Religion News Service, The Dallas Morning News, Sojourners, and Baptist News Global. Her work has been featured by NPR and The New Yorker. She is also a Baptist pastor’s wife and the mom of two great kids.
On this episode of Old Books With Grace, I welcome Sophfronia Scott, author of one of my favorite books I read in 2021, The Seeker and the Monk. I loved our conversation about reading contemplatively and creating dialogue with the writers of the past as one reads. Enjoy!
Sophfronia Scott is a Harvard-educated novelist, essayist, and leading contemplative thinker whose work has appeared in numerous publications and received a 2020 Artist Fellowship Grant from the Connecticut Office of the Arts as well as the 2021 Thomas Merton Award from the International Thomas Merton Society for her book The Seeker and the Monk. She is the founding director of Alma College’s MFA in Creative Writing, a low-residency graduate program based in Alma, Michigan. Sophfronia lives in Sandy Hook, Connecticut where she continues to fight a losing battle against the weeds in her flower beds. Her website is www.Sophfronia.com.
This week, I welcome Jessica Hooten Wilson to Old Books With Grace. We chat about her new book, The Scandal of Holiness: Renewing Your Imagination in the Company of Literary Saints, and the power of literature to reveal the subtleties of the good life. Sometimes holiness can be alarming, bizarre, and fascinating… and novels and their novelists, like Flannery O’Connor, C.S. Lewis, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky, can help us to conceptualize the holy life in all its difficulty and otherworldliness.
Dr. Wilson is the Louise Cowan Scholar in Residence at the University of Dallas. She is the author of three books: Giving the Devil his Due: Flannery O’Connor and The Brothers Karamazov, which received a 2018 Christianity Today book of the year in arts and culture award. In 2019 she received the Hiett Prize for Humanities from the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. She is co-editor of the volume Solzhenitsyn and American Culture: The Russian Soul in the West, a collection of essays on the legacy of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. In 2022, she will publish The Scandal of Holiness: Renewing Your Imagination in the Company of Literary Saints (Brazos Press) and Learning the Good Life: From the Great Hearts and Minds that Came Before (Zondervan).
If you have not yet, don’t forget to sign up for my monthly newsletter, Medievalish with Grace Hamman. Each month I write and compile a meditative essay on something medieval, a prayer from the past, and recommendations on what I’ve been reading. Sign up here.
On today’s podcast episode, Grace welcomes Kayla Craig, author of To Light Their Way, a collection of prayers and liturgies for parents, and the creator of the wonderfully helpful @liturgiesforparents Instagram account. We talk prayer books, the definition of liturgy, how written prayers help us find words, and the wonderful, ecumenical prayer sources and books that Kayla has found helpful and recommends.
A former journalist, Kayla Craig is adamant about paying attention and embracing curiosity in her work as a writer and podcast producer. She writes nuanced, nurturing prayers at Liturgies for Parents on Instagram and cofounded the Upside Down Podcast, a place for ecumenical conversations on faith and justice. Professionally, she writes, produces, and edits prayers and podcasts for Christian spiritual formation. Kayla and her pastor-husband, Jonny, live in Iowa, where they’re raising four young kids who joined their family via birth and adoption. When she’s not playing LEGOs with her sons or advocating for her daughter with disabilities, Kayla can be found sipping strong coffee. You can connect with Kayla at kaylacraig.com and on Instagram @kayla_craig and @liturgiesforparents.
If you haven’t already, you may enjoy signing up for my new monthly newsletter, where you’ll get all the details on what I’ve been reading and writing lately, a reflection on medieval and other literary things for the month, and a prayer from the past.