March 2013

Dhimmitude on the Cheap

Last night I watched Homeland on my laptop, streamed in by Amazon for $1.99. It is an unconvincing potboiler implausible on too many levels to count. Last night’s storyline bent over every which way from Sunday to insure Islam’s place among the smiling aspects of life. “And they call us terrorists,” mourns the terrorist chief whose adorable young son was just killed by a drone attack. Scriptwriters huff and puff to insure we sympathize with this grave, mild-seeming incendiary. The local (somewhere in Fairfax County VA) imam is Mother Teresa in a kufi and caftan. Continue Reading
Papal Threads

Matt Malone, S.J., lives along the Via di Santa Chiara across from Gammarelli, canonical tailor to the papacy since 1798. He has a winsome column over at America on Pope Francis’ wardrobe preferences. Much to the disappointment of Gammarelli, the new Bishop of Rome is exhibiting tastes better suited to catching a bus than strolling in a papal procession. Excerpt below. You can finish reading “Clothing Optional?” in its entirety here.
Good day from Rome on the second day of the pontificate of Pope Francis.
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A Good Priest

The press is filled with more eloquent and informed voices than my own. It would be presumptuous of me to add to them. At the same time, this stunning and gracious election requires acknowledgment. I can do it best by observing it in silence while I reread George Bernanos’ Diary of a Country Priest . Francis stood on the balcony and asked us to pray for him. If ever a work of fiction can be called an act of prayer, it is this one. Continue Reading
Just For Fun

Trivia question: Do you know this girl? Of course you do. But who knew just how contemporary that Mona Lisa smile could be? A stylized, stock expression in Leonardo’s day, it suddenly looks quite current removed from its Renaissance setting and inserted into a post-modern one. The bloody amputation might be a bit over the top, but the figure’s facial mien—part simper, part sneer—would do nicely in a Vogue photo shoot. Not quite as enigmatic as it has been deemed down the centuries. Continue Reading
Gargoyles and Gaffes

You do not have to be a communicant to adopt one of Milan Cathedral’s one hundred thirty five gargoyles. Any cosmopolitan aesthete with a spare $123,000 can help restore the Duomo’s medieval downspouts. Splendid in its ecumenicity, the archdiocese’s fundraising scheme invites “citizens of the world” to earn an engraved plaque under their very own adoptee. Citizens of the world —a utopian term that has taken on a certain ugliness over time. It runs counter to the principle of subsidiarity that is a core precept of Catholic social thought. Continue Reading