Thursday, April 14, 2005

MH - Short Takes

Sorry for the dearth of posting lately; it might continue for the next week or two. We haven't had a lot of time to cruise our favorite sites either, so our apologies there as well. But we will have something tomorrow, and perhaps on Saturday as well. We'll try to catch up on everything, though - can't disappoint our readers!

In the meantime, here are a couple of things I noticed over at NRO that you might find interesting. Some people might wonder why I use them as a source so frequently. It is true that my politics, such as they are, tend to be conservative, but you'll notice that I don't usually link to the political stories. Truth is, some of the best cultural writing can be found at NRO, and that's what usually catches my interest. I also think that since NRO isn't necessarily a first stop for many of our readers, we might be bringing them something they wouldn't otherwise see.

(Of course, there's also the fact that linking to other stories does save time when I'm in a crunch, but that's beside the point!)

So, in no particular order, here is a very interesting essay by Carol Iannone on Rembrandt's Portrait of Christ:
This Jesus possesses a diffident yet confident quality that bespeaks a fullness of personhood beneath — both strong and gentle, wise and innocent, having a humble aspect and yet an awareness of who he is. He is not gesturing toward us, as depicted in so many paintings of Jesus, but his eyes directly engage even as his hands remain crossed quietly on his breast. He is interested in us, yet reticent and pensive, it seems. Those steady, dark brown eyes fix the viewer, while his head tilts to the side, giving the impression that he is scrutinizing you, studying you.


A Christ who sized you up, maybe the way he sized up the chatty Samaritan woman at Jacob's well or the rich young man who thought so well of himself. Where are you now, viewer, he might be saying, what's going on in you, are you ready for me? What are you holding onto, what worthless baggage are you carrying so that you can't come my narrow way? You couldn't think of anything petty while in the purview of that calm, knowing, intelligent, and potentially redemptive gaze.

Here's a report from the eminent Michael Novak on the upcoming conclave: Italian press reports that Cardinal Ratzinger has the support of between 40 and 55 of the 77 cardinals needed to elect the next pope. Novak is properly cautious; remember the old saying "he who enters the conclave a Pope leaves as a Cardinal." Nonetheless, this seems to me an indication that, as Novak says, "The loyalty expressed by millions all around the world to John Paul II became so visible at the funeral that 'Continuator' is now the motif." I cannot wait to see how this plays out.

Finally, here are two older articles on the Pope: Novak, again, reporting on the funeral, and the message of the outpouring of affection:
It is not so much the doctrinal teachings that are here in question, but rather the love of our Lord Jesus Christ, and for all human beings through him, that Pope Wojtyla taught us. Fidelity to doctrine, yes, but first things first: It is the distinctive love that God himself brought into the world, the sun's flame of caritas, which Dante writes is "the Love that moves the sun and all the stars." It is this that fired our John Paul. He was a vessel of the love of Jesus Christ for the entire world. He was Jesus' vicar. His life among us was too short. We would have liked to enjoy his company, his strength, his laughter for all eternity. And now we shall. It is only here that we must live with sorrow a little while.

And a personal reflection by Larry Kudlow, a convert to Catholicism, on the role John Paul played, and continues to play, in his personal conversion:
But as the journey unfolds, my life keeps getting better and better. Materially, there are always ups and downs. But the spiritual life of faith sustains me each day. I have learned to be not afraid to follow this new path. I believe that’s what God wants me to do. He sent Pope John Paul II to all of us to preach this timeless message: Be not afraid. For that we will be eternally grateful.

More later, and I promise (or at least strongly hope!) there will be another installment upcoming on our continuing series on Distributism.

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