December 2013

Act of Mercy

Artist Unknown. Visiting the Sick, from a series of works of mercy. Florentine School (14th C.). Vatican Museums, Vatican City From “Visiting the Sick,” a tutorial by Ariel Scheib:
Visiting the sick  bikur holim) is considered an act of loving kindness (gemilut hasadim). The concept of bikur holim is first introduced in the Bible when God visits Abraham while he is recovering from circumcision (Genesis 18:1). It is from this instant on that Jews are required to emulate God in visiting the sick.
Continue Reading
Joseph's Magnificat

Titian. Madonna of the Cherries (c. 1515). Kunsthistorsches Museum, Vienna The Cherry Tree Carol is a seasonal jewel. It dates back to the cycle of mystery plays performed in Coventry during the Feast of Corpus Christi, around the year 1400. History has brought to life various renditions of it, all of them indebted to the vagaries of memory, an era’s substitution of newer phrasings for antiquated ones, or simply the preferences of singers. Folklorists, liturgists and musicologists agree that it is really more accurate to speak of a Cherry Tree series than of a single carol. Continue Reading
Christmas Quiz

The National Association of Scholars, the good guys in academia, have conjured up a quiz to conjoin final exam time and Christmastime. Try it. Otto Kubel. Illustration from O Schoene herrliche weinachtszeit,(Oh beautiful magnificent Christmas time) by A Jaserg, c. 1920s-30s, published in Nuremberg. CHRISTMAS POP CULTURE 1. All of the following British actors have portrayed perennial sourpuss and miser Ebenezer Scrooge. Which one also had a distinguished academic career? A. Reginald Owen B. Patrick Stewart C. Albert Finney D. Alistair Sim 2. Continue Reading
Sleeping at Sermons

When Soul-melting Sermons are Preached about Christ the Saviour, about the pardon of sin, about the glory of Heaven, there are some that would sleep under them . . . . Yea, some will sit and sleep under the best Preaching in the World . . . . Some woeful Creatures, have been so wicked as to profess they have gone to hear Sermons on purpose, so that they might sleep . . . (Increase Mather, Sleeping at Sermons)
A dozing congregant in a small New England meeting house would be hard to miss—a finger in the clerical eye. Continue Reading
Pilgrim Art

Mortals that would follow me, Love Virtue, she alone is free; She can teach ye how to clime Higher than the Spheary chime. John Milton, “Lydidas” What do you mean, “Pilgrim art”? There wasn’t any. Precisely. There was none as we moderns understand it: a product of leisure and affluence enjoyed largely by spectators. The concept had no hold on their attention. They did not conceive of culture as we do, as a kind of sauce spread like Bechamel over the nexus of values that animate a civilization. Continue Reading