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St Greta, Virgin and Guevara

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — a pair of DoubleQuotes and a whole bunch of the questions the two of them raise ]
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DoubleQuote I: St Greta, Virgin and Guevara:

Questions:

  • Is either meme valid?
  • including its implications?
  • Are those implications obscure to you?
  • Can both sets of implications be valid at once?
  • Could both memes be irrelevant?
  • misleading?
  • Are they in conflict?
  • counterpoint?
  • harmony?
  • Do you have a preference for one meme over the other?
  • What’s your opinion of the other meme?
  • **

    DoubleQuote II: St Greta and St Malala:

    Each of these young women is addressing the United Nations, Malala asking for universal education, Greta for immediate action on climate change.

    Questions::

  • Is there urgent need for universal education?
  • Is there universal need for action on climate change?
  • is Malala Yousafzai a sort of saint?
  • Is Greta Thunberg a sort of saint?
  • Does either one set your teeth on edge?
  • Why do I even have to ask that question?
  • A Sporting Sunday Surprise

    Sunday, July 14th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — Triptych, DoubleQuote and Single in sports, with a sermon you should really click through and hear, delivered by the inimitable Alan Bannett of Beyond the fringe ]
    .

    The London Review of Books sends me a weekly email, and this week it offered sporting articles that might be of interest. I can’t access all the articles in question, not being a subscriber, but the sort versions offered in the email provide me with this triptych of sporting paragraphs.. on the theme of suffering..

    **

    A Broad Grin and a Handstand
    by E.S. Turner, 2004

    The Paris-Madrid road race of 1903 was a wonderfully disgraceful affair. Three hundred cars set out, conferring death and dismemberment along the dust-choked roads south. Six of the drivers were killed outright and nearly twice as many gravely injured. The hospitals were stuffed with mangled sightseers. By the time the surviving drivers reached Bordeaux the race was called off, and in Madrid the garlanded welcome arches were quietly dismantled. City-to-city road racing was now over. However, the dawn of motoring was still one of those dawns in which it was bliss to be alive.

    **

    Everybody gets popped
    by David Runciman, 2012

    For Tyler Hamilton, as for many of the other leading cyclists, doping did not constitute an unfair advantage. Instead, it was a way of sorting out who was really the toughest. In an extraordinary passage, Hamilton writes that EPO made the sport fairer, because it ‘granted the ability to suffer more; to push yourself farther and harder than you’d ever imagined, in both racing and training’.

    **

    Bantu in the Bathroom
    by Jacqueline Rose, 2015

    The full citation from Corinthians tattooed on Oscar Pistorius’s upper back reads:

    I do not run like a man running aimlessly;
    I do not fight like a man beating the air;
    I execute each stride with intent;
    I beat my body and make it my slave
    I bring it under my complete subjection
    To keep myself from being disqualified
    After having called others to the contest.

    The line about making my body my slave is not in most translations from Corinthians, nor is subjection described as ‘complete’. Pistorius was raising the stakes. He was also punishing, or even indicting, himself.

    **

    So much for the Triptych: now, still with sports in mind, for a Twitter DoubleQuote:

    **

    And finally, for a Single, this delightful sports metaphor in religion quote, also from the LRB offering this morning, and worthy of the Alan Bennett sermon (to die for):

    6/4 he won’t score 20
    by John Sturrock, 2000

    In prelapsarian times, it was only ever a short step from the batting crease to the pulpit, as generations of cricketing vicars used the game that they played heartily, if not usually very well, on Saturday afternoon for a neighbourly source of Sunday metaphors with which to earth a sermon and reassure the congregation that the rules by which a good Anglican was urged to live were really no more arduous than those framed by the MCC.

    Howzzat?

    :

    Mind-blowing golden images from Louis de Laval’s Book of Hours

    Sunday, June 30th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — whatever you may think of religion, the artwork in these images is stunning ]
    .

    There’s this phrase in the Apostles Creed, the shortest and most basic of the three creeds which mainstream Christians accept: the communion of saints. The hymn known as the Te Deum is more explicit, while describing basically the same companionship:

    The glorious company of the Apostles : praise thee.
    The goodly fellowship of the Prophets : praise thee.
    The noble army of Martyrs : praise thee.
    The holy Church throughout all the world : doth acknowledge thee;

    But this image of that company, from Louis de Laval‘s illuminated Book of Hours, ca 1480, is the first I’ve seen that suggests the membership of this communion is innumerable —

    — wave on wave, saint upon saint, halo on halo into the distance — until they constitute a veritable sea of gold.

    Nor that the company includes many females, also innumerable–

    — some of whom must have caused a ferment in their own day, or at least in the creative imagination of a court artist, likely Jean Colombe, in the 1480s..

    Nor had I seen until now that there were vacancies for saints as yet unknown, perhaps unborn, their halos vacant —

    — unless perchance these are saints so deeply meditative that they have lost all face, as the Zennists might say, save the original face alone..

    Glorious.

    Sanctity of the unsavory 2

    Wednesday, January 9th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — art meets theft, the theft of art meets the art of theft ]
    .

    That Modigliani, Woman with a Fan (Lunia Czechowska) — detail:

    **

    Foreground:

    Today I was reading The French Burglar Who Pulled Off His Generation’s Biggest Art Heist. The burglar is named Vjeran Tomic, and known to le tout Paris as Spider Man.. It’s a fascinating piece, and inter alia illustrates once again the loose array of phenomena I’ve been noting under the rubric of unsavory sanctities..

    At the =age of sixteen, magic hit Tomic:

    Tomic was enraptured by Renoir’s glowing renderings of happy childhoods: kids playing with figurines, practicing the piano, snuggling with mothers. As Tomic saw it, Renoir had used his paintbrush to create a “parallel universe”—an enchanted version of the grim Parisian life he had known. “Renoir has a way of seeing life from a magical realm,” Tomic wrote to me. “It’s as if he even came from this place.”

    Add a youthful, “devious” tendency to scaling walls, running roofs and theft, and you have the makings of a spectacular, special thief:

    One night, he had a vivid dream in which he stole five paintings from a museum. He took it as a portent. As he wrote to me, “I knew that someday I would do something great.”

    Even those he robbed could admire him:

    I’ve always had respect for his style — an admiration for his temerity — and a sort of intimate affection for him … It was very much a Gentleman Burglar situation, Arsène Lupin style.” (Lupin, the quintessential debonair thief, was invented by the French novelist Maurice Leblanc, in 1905.)

    And his friends:

    A friend of Tomic’s described him as “brutal and a little wild.” At the same time, she said, he had a charming range of passions: “He is into aesthetics, classical music, nature, animals, epicurean pleasures—wine, cheese. He is very out there in his style, even his clothing.” (Tomic favors G-Star pants, New Balance sneakers, cashmere ski hats, and Lacoste underwear.) She said that Tomic was “like a poet,” noting that “he talks about the moon.”

    It’s that last quote, of course, that perks me up, “poet” as applied to a master of theft strikes me as analogous to “saint” — and “he talks about the moon.” clinches the deal. More prosaically, “The Impressionist art feeds the poetry that is in him.”

    By way of confirmation:

    A friend of his compared him to a “shaman,” and added, “A work of art emits a vibration, a palpable energy, and Vjeran is able to connect to it.” When I asked Tomic about this assessment, he agreed, observing, “I love to touch antique objects, and I sense a great past—of generations and generations—that I think are a part of the works.”

    A court-appointed psychologist came to a similar conclusion, noting that Tomic had described himself as a “visionary.”

    **

    Read the rest yourself, and you’ll discover, if you’d never known, or like myself you’d forgotten, this intriguing and peripherally related fact:

    In 1911, a relatively uncelebrated painting by Leonardo da Vinci, the “Mona Lisa,” was stolen from the Louvre. It took twenty-eight hours before anyone even noticed that it was gone. The painting was missing for two years and, during that time, a great many people went looking for it, and the media attention helped turn the “Mona Lisa” into the most famous painting in the world.

    And much more — including the present uncertain fate of that Modigliani.

    Here.

    **

    Background:

    We’d established (in Sermo I: Sanctity of the unsavory) that popular disposition extends the realm of sanctity to encompass some less than savory personalities:

  • Anthony Bourdain, for his charming habits with disgusting foods, televised..
  • Jesus Malverde and other folk saints in the Mexican tradition, including Santa Muerte
  • Master P, by implication in Heaven for a Gangsta?
  • I want to add, from British tradition:

  • Robin Hood, who is effectively a folk-saint who robs from the rich tom give to the poor
  • **

    Now let’s add art theft by colorful second story men to our categories and examples.

    Romero: conservative, archbishop, radical, martyr, pop saint, Saint

    Friday, October 19th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — Pope Francis recently canonized him — this is my belated tribute ]
    .

    **

  • The Economist, El Salvador’s most famous martyr, Óscar Romero, is canonised
  • The Atlantic, What Óscar Romero’s Canonization Says About Pope Francis
  • **

    He was already a popular saint. For years the faithful have congregated every Sunday for mass by his tomb in the crypt of the cathedral in San Salvador, inspired by the man they called San Óscar or San Romero de América. Now it is official. On October 14th in Rome, Archbishop Óscar Arnulfo Romero was canonised, almost 40 years after he fell to a gunman’s bullet while finishing a private mass at a chapel that is today a site of pilgrimage. He had recited the 23rd Psalm: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”

    As the archbishop read the Gospel, the assassins pulled up to the chapel. As he raised the consecrated bread and wine, the gunman fired a shot to the heart.

    **

    The Economist’s graphic, above, gets it wrong. It’s not the struggle, signified by the familiar raised, clenched fist that grabs the halo of sanctity, it’s the diminutive (humble) figure in clerical garb, his hands holding a cross and giving a blessing on whom the halo descends, as noted by Pope Francis.

    The theological and political twists and turns of Romero’s life are succinctly presented in my heading, with further details in the two articles.

    What I have wanted to illuminate here, however, is the sacramental nature of the arch bishop’s martyrdom, assassinated while saying Mass. Cavanaugh has an entire, brilliant book, Torture and Eucharist: Theology, Politics, and the Body of Christ demonstrating torture in S America as the inverse of sacrament, the attempt to wipe out all traces of the body of Christ present in those who receive it in the Eucharistic sacrament, and the martyrdom of Romero is a summation and eloquent proof of Cavanaugh’s thesis.

    **

    As I mentioed here before, in Of sacrifice and martyrdom, I have a particular interest in eucharistic martyrs, ghaving served Mass often enough, kneeling on the paving-stones of the lady chapel of Brightwell church near Wallingford, Berks — or is it now Oxon?

    There in the Lady Chapel, embedded in one of those stones, is the brass of a priest of Brightwell, who too was assassinated while saying Mass.

    The brass might as well be illustrating the holy death of Saint Oscar Romero, archbishop and martyr.

    **

    Oscar Romero, ora pro nobis.


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