Art

Jesuits West, the Musical

The Society of Jesus explains the recent launch of a West Coast province under the headline: “The Dawning Of Jesuits West.” The caption is too suggestive to have been inadvertent. So let us take the Jesuits at their word and run with the allusion. This glistening new province hints at itself as the final coming of the Age of Aquarius. That grand epoch of astrological hope is really on its way this time ‘round. Peace will guide the planets and love will steer the stars. Continue Reading
Amuse-Bouche For August

It is August. This is the time of year to loll in a hammock, take bribes, and be fanned by eunuchs. But I have no hammock. No one is coming forward with a bribe. And all the eunuchs are clustered where they have always been—in high places, far from here and out of reach. Still, I can dream. In reality, there is no alternative to getting on with the job. This time, though, hot weather gives me a plausible excuse to put aside a proper essay and just . Continue Reading
Dreary Apparitions (Complaints, Part 2)

Credulity is not a virtue. Nor is it a compliment to faith. We are advised to be always ready with a cogent answer “to every man that asketh you a reason for the hope that is in you.” (1 Peter 3:15) The words emphasize faith’s footing in rationality. The faith is to be defended in accord with reason and logic. Admittedly, reason is chastened by its own limits. As Paul wrote to the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for.” There is no acid test for “the evidence of things not seen.” But, following Paul, the search for understanding cannot—must not—be abandoned to sentimental mystification. Continue Reading
Notes on the Faustina Phenomenon

After hearing my confession, a gentle, elderly priest granted absolution and, for my penance, imposed the chaplet of Divine Mercy. I cringed. Oh, please, not that! Like the bargaining murderer in Alfred Hitchock’s I Confess, I negotiated the penance. I blurted out something about revulsion for the self-regarding jumble of Faustina’s supernatural stenography. I wanted nothing to do with the cult of Faustina and her preposterous painting commission. Please, Father, give me a different penance. A mild man, he obliged. He rescinded the chaplet and sent me to the rosary instead. Continue Reading
Paglia & the Art of Transgression

The oddities of Archbishop Paglia’s 2007 commissioned mural stirred interest in other works by Ricardo Cinalli, the Argentinian artist who painted it. Why him? Of the ten artists who auditioned for the project, what recommended Cinalli above the others? Presumably all applicants were adept at the human figure, all capable of managing the demands of a large-scale wall painting. What was the distinguishing feature of the winning artist’s portfolio? Go ahead, take a guess:   Ricardo Cinalli. El Plato (1997-98). The bulk of Cinalli’s output—prior to and close to the time of the commission—exhibits a will to startle, an inner necessity to stick a thumb in the eye of Mr. Continue Reading