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
Christmas Cards, A Tour

They get into your blood after awhile, all our sugared Christmas images—candied madonnas, honeyed bambini, angels that look like Vienna choir boys. One more cottage-in-the-Shire, with glitter on the snow-covered roof and a lantern in the window, and I will need an insulin injection. This 19th C. lithograph below came just in time. It dates from the days, long-forgotten now, that smart-mouthed cubs—little incorrigibles—could find a lump of coal in their stockings. That was before self-esteem was sacralized and any offense against it risked being reported to social services and deemed actionable. Continue Reading