Things to Read

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
Francis, a Dhimmi on the Chair of Peter

Francis is on his way to Egypt, prompting George Neumayr to write: “The most liberal pope ever, of course, sees no irony in shilling for the most illiberal religion on Earth.” With that quotation, Robert Bové alerted me this morning—in what he termed “a mourning quote”—to Neumayr’s latest column in The American Spectator. Neumayr has a keen eye and an ear for cant—two qualities unwelcome among fainthearts and papal sycophants. He does not write for academics nor for readers who like to be addressed as if they were academics themselves. Continue Reading
Of Calendars And Memory

The sixties were generous with gifts that keep on taking. I cannot help thinking that one of them was the Church’s 1969 calendar revision for January 1. / /The Church began withdrawing recognition from the circumcision of Jesus in the sixties. Today, circumcision itself is under threat once-Christian Europe, from Switzerland to Scandinavia. Because it is practiced by both Jews and Muslims, it is tempting to see moves against the ritual as the sour fruit of secularist ideology. And there is partial truth to that. Continue Reading
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