Art

infantryman in the Battle of the Bulge

Knowledge of the early and mid-twentieth century is slipping inexorably away from us. Our capacity to understand and evaluate the present evaporates with it. What Fernand Braudel called “the fragile are of writing history” has been largely replaced by burlesques of our inheritance posing as indictments of the past. Too few remember even the names of the critical events of World War II. How many of today’s high school and college students have ever heard of the Battle of the Bulge? Continue Reading
Cordileone: Rosaries, Roses, & Reptiles

“O young Lochinvar is come out of the west”—West Coast, that is. You have likely read the media pas de deux between Nancy Pelosi and her ordinary, Archbishop Cordileone. Forgive me if I am unsympathetic to His Excellency’s current “Rose and Rosary for Nancy” gambit. The sell-by date for talk about killing innocent life in the womb expired in September with passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021. Once the clock ran out on the utility of words, it was time for canonical action. Continue Reading
Ad for stem cell marketing

At the outset, let me add a brief preface. Part 1 of this look at the Vatican series of conferences on cell research and the biotech industry began on this weblog last month. I had promised a Part 2. Much of that promise appeared in The Federalist, July 15th, under the title “Inside The Vatican’s Surprising Alliance With Biotech Venture Capital.” For clarity’s sake—and to avoid repetition here—it makes sense to read The Federalist piece first. Part 2 introduced the mystic marriage of Cardinal Ravasi and the entrepreneurial Robin L. Continue Reading
Satirical lithograph by Daumier

False piety wears different hats. The sentimental kind gets my back up whenever I meet it. It is a species of attitudinizing, closer to showboating than to holiness. To illustrate, let me tell you about recent exposure to a case of it. The setting was Sunday Mass in a local parish church a few weeks back. Everyone was still masking up and doing the six steps of our new dance craze: social distancing. Alternate pews were cordoned off. To compensate for reduced seating, the church folded back the doors of a large community room that opens onto the transept, stage right. Continue Reading
Painting, An Impromptu Respite

Painting is meant to be seen, not talked about. Painters are drawn to things, not concepts or doctrines. What counts is what is front of them, the very thing itself—whether an object or a vista—not an idea about the thing. For a painter, the only ideas that count are pictorial ones. Matters of fact are primary. These include the material facts of paint, the cookery of getting it right, manipulation of brushes and color chords—all physical, earth-bound matters. Fairfield Porter was blunt: “An art that finds ideas more real than things is attractive to the unemployed intellectual.” Continue Reading