Barbara Castle

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Barbara Castle has worked as a magazine editor, freelance writer, and graphic designer. She is a published children’s author and winner of the Oxford American Ambitious Writers’ Award for preliminary work on her literary memoir The Unforgiving Minute. Barbara holds a master’s degree in Philosophy through the Great Books, and a second graduate degree in Literature. She teaches English at Arkansas State University, and adjuncts in Worldview and Culture at Oral Roberts University.

Recent Essays

The Sower and the English Instructor: A Hobbit Roadside Colloquy

I interrupted his weed-pulling to gently rebuke him for perceived carelessness regarding his health, but like the mother of Christ, I was the one needing correction—for Pastor was simply “about his Father’s business.” As if to act out our philosophy, he was a “good shepherd,” and I an “honoring” daughter. Perhaps we both would live long on the land and finish our heroes journey, our pilgrim’s progress, at the “lighted inn.”

The Green Knight: David Lowery’s Culturally Resonant Palimpsest of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

The Green Knight is a subversive film that recommends the culturally decaying virtues of generosity, courtesy, fellowship, chastity, and piety. It is a true myth worth telling.

Hillbilly Grace on a Five-Acre Farm in Lincoln, Arkansas: A Review of Minari

Minari is haunted by O’Connor, as Chung explores the theme of misfits and “hard to find” good men (and women) that jolt our senses toward who we truly are, including our limitations.

From God’s Dark Materials, Comes Jack’s Dark Arts

The longing created in the reader to want to know Jack is not easily articulated. It is difficult to admit that though we love happy endings, we are inexplicably drawn to misery.

Awakening to Virtue: Confessions of a Well-Read, Unlucky Good Girl

Both Prior and Gibbs agree that ultimately virtue orients us toward one end, to “love God and enjoy Him forever.” Loving God is difficult; it too requires our attention in a culture that is constantly distracting us. And while virtue brings about human flourishing that can be observed from the outside, loving God requires us to remember who we are on the inside. It is the place where we are to be good alone … in the presence of One.

The Domestic Arts: Finding a Quiet Dignity in the Mundane

As Sarah Orne Jewett knew, "everyday tasks” and the celebrations they engender are the condition upon which many other arts rest, including poetry.

Graced Grit: A Hymn-laced Eulogy to True Grit Author Charles Portis

U.S. Marshal Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn and Mattie bring a type of vigilante justice to Tom Chaney, and we are glad, but Portis doesn’t allow us to be easy about it. There is always a poison fit for the avenger, even if she is a mere child.

Haunted by Grace, a little East of Eden: A Literary Apologetic

Like the Macleans, we are listening for those inaudible, but not imperceptible, words underneath the rocks in the river that runs through our own lives.

Mud: Our Alma-Pater

If the institutions that oversee our slow twelve-to-eighteen-year process of education are called our alma-mater (nourishing mother), why can’t the dirt-filled, dung-laden places that convey agrarian lessons taught over 20 years be our nourishing father (alma-pater)?