Martyn Wendell Jones at Open Letters Monthly:
In the world of letters, overt religiosity can seem an offense against taste. Gone are the days of Graham Greene, Flannery O’Connor, and Reinhold Niebuhr; in their place have stepped artists, writers, and intellectuals of faith who, in the words of novelist Doris Betts, “whisper” rather than “shout.” Faith is a private affair; its public mandate for the individual believer is discomfiting, especially to those who have no truck with it. Ours is an age of pronounced religious anxieties.
It’s refreshing, then, to find someone whose personal faith is an aesthetic and intellectual enablement rather than an encumbrance. Gregory Wolfe, editor of the quarterly journalImage, is unabashedly Catholic, but ideologically nonpartisan. (Though he came of age under the tutelage of William F. Buckley at the National Review, he left a career in political commentary behind during the Reagan administration to dedicate himself to culture and the arts.) His book The Operation of Grace contains editorial statements for issues of the journal as well as essays and public addresses; their historically and culturally wide-ranging reflections are focused through Image’s guiding themes of art, faith, and mystery.
The pieces collected here are loosely arranged by topic; the six groupings of chapters include headings such as “Art Speaks to Faith,” “Christian Humanism: Then and Now,” and “Scenes from a Literary Life.” A portrait of Wolfe emerges in his treatments of current events, historically diverse literary figures, and theology. He is no mystic longing for another world; nor is he a staid cleric with his collar starched.