July 2014

Anonymous. Hell (15th C.). Church of St. Petronius, Bologna.

Instead of the sorry and unbecoming spectacle of the priest racing with death to the bedside of the sick, the Church prescribes a devout and dignified procession from church to home, with the minister assisted by clergy and acolytes and accompanied by devout layfolk . . . .
—Rubrics of the 1962 Rituale Romanum Liturgies change for the sake of the living. Protocols adjust to the shifting tenor and tempo of the centuries. But the hour of death is ever the same. Continue Reading
Death of Daniel O’Connell. Currier Lithograph (1847). Museum of the City of New York.

Whatever happened to Extreme Unction? Who are the baleful liturgists who drove a stake through the sacrament and nailed it to the ground? No need to answer that. I know who they are. They are the same ruinous bien pensants who confused the Zeitgeist of the 1960s and ‘70s with the cooing of the Holy Spirit. Let God forgive them; I cannot. Death of Daniel O’Connell. Currier Lithograph (1847). Museum of the City of New York. Unction for those in extremis was stripped of its exclusive purpose and ritual dignity in the wake of Vatican II. Continue Reading
World War I spoof postcard published by Cynicus Company, 1915.

Straightaway, a housekeeping item. Several readers have emailed to ask why there is no place to comment at the end of this blog. One reader complained, “It is a nuisance having to look up responses on Facebook.” Maybe I should explain. World War I spoof postcard published by Cynicus Company, 1915. The comment box is disabled for a jumble of reasons. Chief among them is the snowball effect of comments on individual readers. Positive comments roll one way; negative ones, intimidating, roll another. Continue Reading
Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Lady Lillith. Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington

Is he a youth? Is she a woman? Is she a goddess or a god? Love, fearing to be ignoble, Hesitates and suspends its confession. To make this beauty maudit Each gender brought its gift. —Théophile Gautier, Enamels and Cameos (1852) James Slattery aka Candy Darling, transwoman, Warholian superstar and drag queen. Gautier, writing in French a century and a half ago, used the noun sexe. It is doubtful he would have recognized the word gender except in relation to other nouns. Continue Reading
Roy Strong and wife Julia in the 1970s. Photo by Paul Lewis

If I had been born ten years later, I might’ve lived my life as a gay man. —Roy Strong Is homosexuality innate? Is there a gene for it? If not a complete molecular unit, then perhaps some partial genetic link? And if a link, would this sectional fragment prove a determinant to sexual preference? Or would it hover in our DNA with all the other unfinished suggestions that move each of us past the many roads not taken? Roy Strong, dressed for a 2010 photo shoot. Continue Reading