Art

Art Appreciation: Pope Francis, Chagall, & Bolsheviks

Is papal art appreciation all that it seems? Pope Francis once cited Chagall’s “White Crucifixion” as one of his two favorite paintings. Perhaps he really meant it. Or maybe his stated preference was a cost-free instance of diplospeak. A polite ceremonial gesture to cover an entrenched imbalance in his Middle East sympathies? Either way, as an expression of sympathy for the Jewish people, papal art appreciation is easy but insubstantial.     It is no substitute for unambiguous support for Israel, a tiny Jewish state targeted for extinction from the date of its founding. Continue Reading
Crucifixion, Metaphor, & Marc Chagall

Born Moiche Zakharovitch Chagalov, Chagall never resolved his conflict between affinity for Yiddish culture and ambition to mark his place in the timeline of modern Western art. The tension took a toll on his instinct for painting. But let us not begin there. Better to start with Brad Miner’s essay “Marc Chagall’s Jesus,” for The Catholic Thing. It distills the reasons why Chagall’s work continues to resonate. And it provides context for “White Crucifixion” (1938), the best known of Chagall’s many interpretations of the crucifixion theme:
Chagall was living [for a second time] in Paris at this point, and news of the Kristallnacht pogrom and other attacks on Jews were the impetus for the creation of “White Crucifixion.”
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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