September 2016


In response to the previous post—specifically, to fusty reactions to Roman Cieslewicz’ poster image—a priest friend writes:
I, for my part, am simply too jaded to be offended.  I noted, of course, the strength—the shock—of the image in question. That’s the point of the various memento mori, after all.  And in our time—much more than for those medieval and later artists—the linking of sex with death has become poignant.  We deal with things of which they could not have conceived. And precisely because so many people have become complacent with what not long ago would have been considered monstrous, it is sometimes necessary to shock them.
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Danse Macabre, Then & Now

We are accustomed to thinking that verbal discourse (written or spoken) and visual communication are complementary. Word and image accompany each other, so we believe, in the same struggle to get to the truth of things. But maybe not. Could they be not only distinct but antagonistic ways of understanding? Or are images mere accessories to words, meaningless without verbal explanation?   What set me wondering was a flurry of unsmiling emails that came in response to the previous post. These were ones that said nothing at all about the written content but took exception—quite breathy in some instances—to the images. Continue Reading
Hesitance Comes For The Archbishop

A tragic fault line runs through the approach of the American bishops to the 2016 election. On one side lies their traditional sympathy for immigration, extended now to embrace what amounts to open-borders and a reluctance to distinguish between legal immigrants and illegal ones. On the other is the indispensable Catholic opposition to abortion. However much buttressed by religious language and attachments, one is a historically conditioned political position. The second is bedrock, a fundamental moral position the Church cannot abandon without losing its soul. Continue Reading