October 02, 2015

"Those people, the American writers of the 1920s and thereabouts, knew how to conjure two universes at once, the ordinary one in front of us, and the invisible one that occasionally winks at us from behind a column..."

Paul Berman talks Popes and Catholicism:

It is sometimes said of Chateaubriand, the author of The Genius of Christianity in 1800, that he was drawn to every aspect of the Catholic Church except its Christianity; and I find this understandable. In modern society it is the Catholic Church that most assiduously cultivates the memory of ancient Rome and its civilization—the Roman arts and their medieval legacies, and the Roman philosophical doctrines and their own legacies. The idea that some corner of modern culture is devoted to maintaining those particular legacies seems to me immensely moving. Now and then I read that a 100-year-old church in Brooklyn or the Bronx or some other American place is about to be sold to real-estate developers, and I become nearly as agitated as the half-dozen elderly parishioners who are sorry to see their old temple get torn down. The exterior architecture of those churches is often of merit, and, whatever the quality of the interiors and the statuary and artwork may be, I regard those buildings as temples to temple-ness. They house whatever is left of Rome.
Posted by Dr. Frank at October 2, 2015 03:26 PM