I’m fairly certain the first time I encountered Christian Wiman’s work was in October 2012, when I stumbled on an essay of his in The American Scholar titled “Mortify Our Wolves.” I know this because, searching our archives, that was the first time we featured Wiman’s writing on the Dish after I started working here, and it certainly wouldn’t be the last. When his book My Bright Abyss: Meditations of a Modern Believer was published the following spring, it was clear no one was writing about faith quite like he was. With our plans to launch Deep Dish starting to take shape, Andrew and I knew we had to sit down with Wiman and record a podcast.
Just over a year ago, we did just that in Andrew’s apartment when Wiman was in New York City for a poetry reading. As a participant in that conversation, I’m not unbiased, but I found Andrew’s and Christian’s exchanges powerful and fascinating. Both men are survivors, have lived longer than they thought they might – and so religion and mortality, along with what the afterlife might be like, figure heavily into the podcast. We also discuss poetry and faith, the problem of suffering, our childhood religious experiences, and more. Philip Larkin’s poems are quoted every few minutes, it seems. You also can hear Andrew sing in Latin. It was a privilege to have spent an afternoon talking with Andrew and Christian, and it’s a real pleasure to now share that conversation with all of you. As a preview, here is the part in which the two of them share their personal experiences encountering death, and how those experiences influenced their faith: