A Personal Note On Pride Month

While the holy month of Pride was upon us, I thought often of the ancient Dance of Death. Through the 1990s, at the height of the AIDS epidemic, a parade saluting sexual behaviors that shortened lives struck me as a celebration against itself—an inverted Danse Macabre. What once had been cautionary and didactic was  becoming exhortative. The parade was encouraging if not, in a perverse way, edifying. A certain kind of free spiritedness, however lethal, was assumed to be tinged with heroism. Continue Reading
Pope Francis, The FCC, And Gender Ideololgy

Pope Francis’ coy two-step on sexual mores hangs over Catholic culture like the sword of Damocles. Papal ambiguity weakens the Catholic Radio Association’s current effort to resist newly mandated reporting rules about workforce diversity. Driving the rules is an ideological ambition to demolish the scaffolding of traditional behavioral norms regarding sex. Specifically at issue is the “nonbinary” classification. In February, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reinstated a dormant requirement that radio stations must file Form 395-B. The document requires radio stations and their affiliates to list the race and “gender” of their employees. Continue Reading
Seeing Things: Female Impersonation from Cabaret to Identity

So far as seeing things is an art, it is the art of keeping your eyes and ears open. (John Borroughs, 1908) You really can tell some things just by looking. It cannot be said too often: the eye is an organ of the brain. It has its own way of knowing. When it looks, for instance, at the grotesque Admiral Rachel (né Richard) Levine, or Sam Brinton, the non-binary former Biden appointee to the Department of Nuclear Energy, it discerns the gulf between sanity and a simulacrum of it. Continue Reading
Studio Matters: Art Talk, Church Talk, et al.

Studio Matters began as a companion to my columns for the culture desk of The New York Sun in its brief reincarnation as a print edition. I often miss my weblog’s original mandate. At the time, The Sun ran the best arts coverage in New York City. A small troupe of us covered visual arts for the culture desk under the heading “Gallery Going.” Journalistic art criticism has been with us since the Mercure de France published the first criticism of a Paris Salon in 1738. Continue Reading
Harrison Butker At The Podium

Harrison Butker’s commencement address at Benedictine College was a mixed pleasure. There was much in it to cheer. Nonetheless, his spotlight on Josemariá Escrivá de Balaguer, (1902-1975), founder of Opus Dei, raised a red flag. How familiar is Butker with the richness of Catholic tradition beyond the contours of a quasi-sectarian, ultra-orthodox movement hinged on a personality cult? More on that later. But first, the pleasure. Part homily, part pep talk, the address challenged young Catholics to recognize the moral bankruptcy of the culture they will inhabit as adults. Continue Reading