I'm delighted to post this next installment of the Finding Livelihood endorser series in honor of Greg Wolfe. Greg is a key force behind and presence in the art-faith conversation that is so vital to cultural stewardship. He and his wife Suzanne started Image Journal in 1989. I think I'm correct in saying they started it and produced it for many years from within their own apartment and at great personal sacrifice. Today it is one of the top five literary quarterlies in terms of paid subscriptions.
In an interview posted on the Image site, Greg said this about starting the journal: "On a fairly obvious level we founded Image to show that great literature and art informed by or grappling with Judeo-Christian faith could still be made. That’s the standard rationale. But another key aspect of our approach was to push back against the near-total domination of the cultural airwaves by secondary discourse, which was (and still often is) highly politicized." Other programs spearheaded by Greg include the Glen Workshop, Image Conference and other lecture events, Milton Center Postgraduate Fellowship, and Shaw Fellowship, and finally near and dear to my heart, the MFA program in creative writing at Seattle Pacific University.
The tagline for the Glen Workshop is "a week can change your life." I first went to a Glen Workshop in 2004 after learning about it when a friend of mine gave me a couple pages from an Image essay by Annie Dillard, and not recognizing the name of the journal, I googled it and discovered the workshop and that Lauren Winner was going to be teaching a track on spiritual writing. I signed up and life indeed was never the same. It's fair to say that Greg's life work has changed my life.
Greg is the author of Beauty Will Save the World: Recovering the Human in An Ideological Age, Intruding Upon the Timeless, and Malcolm Muggeridge: A Biography, as well as several books co-authored with Suzanne Wolfe. Greg is also the editor of several anthologies, including Bearing the Mystery and God With Us.
From Beauty Will Save the World:
Art, like religious faith in general and prayer in particular has the power to help us transcend the fragmented society we inhabit. We live in a Babel of antagonistic tribes – tribes that speak only the language of race, class, rights, and ideology. That is why the intuitive language of the imagination is so vital. Reaching deep into our collective thoughts and memories, great art sneaks past our shallow prejudices and brittle opinions to remind us of the complexity and mystery of human existence. The imagination calls us to leave our personalities behind and temporarily to inhabit another's experience, looking at the world with new eyes. Art invites us to meet the Other – whether that be our neighbor or the infinite otherness of God – and to achieve a new wholeness of spirit.
You can find Greg's books on the Image site, his website, and on his Amazon page. If you haven't read anything by Greg, start with this piece in The Wall Street Journal, then dip into some online pieces from back issues of Image, then dig into Beauty Will Save the World. Consider a Glen Workshop and a subscription to Image.
Finally, here's what Greg wrote about Finding Livelihood:
"Nordenson's prose is beautifully polished, lucid, and imaginative."