Wise Anglican monks giving hard-nosed spiritual counsel to the modern Christian—not the usual grist for the pop-novel mills. Yet this is the heart of the "action" in Susan Howatch's Starbridge series (which begins with "Glittering Images" and ends with the recently published sixth volume, "Absolute Truths"). Friends have been telling me to read them for some time, and when their voices together took on the resonance of the baying hound of heaven, I succumbed. I am halfway through the second.

The novels do not constitute great literature. But behind the requisite scandals and surprises, there is that rare thing called spiritual depth. The soul is taken seriously, and Providence is one of the characters.

Which is what has gotten my friends, and now me, excited. Howatch's novels scratch where we itch. I now long to find my own spiritual director, to know some battle-scarred saint who can guide me through contemporary contours on the way to the celestial city. I long for depth, to swim in the deep end with God.

I believe this is a holy passion, and one that we at CTi want to stoke. Yet assigning individual spiritual directors is not feasible, and I know not everyone will share my fondness for Anglican mysteries. But there is something more CTi can do to meet the need for mature Christian thinking and spiritual depth: publish a new magazine.

This fall we are giving birth to Books & Culture: A Christian Review, a bimonthly tabloid that will engage the leading books and ideas of our time. A sample follows in this issue. (For more information, read the editor's note.) We hope you dive in.

We're not expecting B&C to compete with Entertainment Weekly. In fact, the launch was made possible only by a generous start-up grant from the ...

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