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A Letter from the Editor
In this issue, Frederica Mathewes-Green reviews Rod Dreher's The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life. By my calculation, this is the fourteenth piece Frederica has written for Books & Culture (and a fifteenth, on beekeeping, is forthcoming).
Frederica's first piece for the mag, "Through a Glass More Clearly," appeared in our very first issue, September/October 1995, and it remains one of my favorites of all that we have published since day one. Here's how it begins:
Jesus is lying on his side on my dining room floor, leaning against the radiator, balanced on one finger and one toe like a gymnast. He is flattened, just a sheet of painted plywood, and from pointed toe to the tip of his halo he is about four-and-a-half feet tall. For protection, for storage, Jesus is swathed in a blue tablecloth that has been knotted around his ankles and pulled up over his head. When I push the cloth aside, I can see his form, a crucified body without a cross. He floats in misery, head sunk toward one shoulder, eyes tightly shut, face brimming cupful of pain.
It's a piece about Orthodox icons, touching as well on how she and her husband, Gary, an Episcopal priest, converted to Orthodoxy. Here's my record of Frederica's subsequent pieces for B&C: "The Baltimore Book Dump" [Nov/Dec '95]; "The Women of Disney" [March/April '96]; "The Subject Was Noses" [Jan/Feb '97]; "Poetry for Dummies" [March/April '98]; "Good for the Soul" [Sept/Oct '03]; "What Heresy?" [Nov/Dec '03]; "The Meaning of Christ's Suffering" [March/April '04]; "Ungawa!" [Sept/Oct '05); "Hee-Haw" [Nov/Dec '07]; "Holy Hegemony!" [March/April '08]; "The Holy Gaze" [Sept/Oct '10]; "Pray Without Ceasing" [March/April '11]; and now her review of Rod Dreher's memoir. If you are a subscriber, you have access to all of these via our website. (Warning: the formatting in the first couple of years leaves a lot to be desired.)
I had no intention of re-reading all of these when I began ...