For this first revival of this blog’s Friday Links feature—inactive since last April—here is a sampling of links recommended by Dappled Things editors and Deep Down Things bloggers in the months since then.
In April 2019, Jonathan McDonald shared “Polish priest apologises for Harry Potter book burning.” McDonald mentioned, “Maybe it’s time to revisit my old blog series on censorship.” If you agree it is time, you can find McDonald’s censorship posts at these links: “What has Rome to do with Iowa City?” and Purifying the Source.”
In June, Karen Ullo shared a link to “Inspired innovator: The startling Christian art of Tintoretto.” As the article says, Tintoretto “parlayed his unique artistic talent for imaginative story-telling (Jean-Paul Sartre called him ‘the first film director’), to become one of the biggest painters of 16th-century Venice.” Biggest in size too: “Paradiso” (shown below) c. 1583 by Tintoretto measures 23 feet high and 72 feet wide, and is “the largest old master oil painting in the world.”
In July, Natalie Morrill posted a meeting of two Jorges. In 1965, Jorge Bergoglio, S.J., [left in the photo] aged 28, (now Pope Francis) was teaching literature to high school boys at Colegio de la Immaculada Concepciòn in Santa Fé, Argentina, when he sent stories written by his students to fellow-Argentinian author Jorge Luis Borges, who, as Pope Francis told an interviewer many years later, “liked them very much.” Borges later wrote a preface to a book of the boys’ stories. The photo is from when Borges travelled six hours to speak to the class.
In August, Jonathan McDonald posted this link to information about early access to Bishop Robert Barron’s first film Flannery O’Connor, in his new film series Catholicism: The Pivotal Players. In a video at the linked page, Bishop Barron says of O’Connor, “By being a storyteller in the full rich integral way, following the rules of storytelling, she was giving glory to God.” In the video below, Bishop Barron speaks about the famous interchange about the Eucharist between well-known novelist Mary McCarthy and budding author, Flannery O’Connor.
In September, I posted this link to “The Risque Artist Who Found God,” about James Tissot. Tissot was a fashionable painter who returned to the Catholic faith of his childhood. His good friend and mentee Degas was disgusted at Tissot’s reversion to Catholic faith and accused him of mercenary motives, but Tissot’s faith was sincere and lasting. During the final years of his career, Tissot made three trips to the Holy Land and produced hundreds of watercolor illustrations of Bible stories. (By the way, if you’re in the Bay Area, and you might like to see some of Tissot’s works, you have about ten days to get to San Francisco Legion of Honor’s exhibit: James Tissot: Faith and Fashion before it closes February 9.)
In October, Katy Carl sent “Has Literature Regained Its Faith?“—which reports on the Third Catholic Literary Imagination Conference and includes a shout-out to Dappled Things—as one of the publications that “are mission-driven to give Catholic and Christian authors a place to publish their work.”
In November, Josh Nadeau shared “The Book Thief of Monastery Mountain,” with this recommendation: “Books. Monks. Drama. This one has it all.” Spoiler alert: A Strasbourg teacher with a devouring passion started stealing ancient books from the library of the abbey of Mont Sainte-Odile in Alsace, France.
In December, Karen Ullo posted “Why Sexual Morality May be Far More Important than You Ever Thought.” In this essay about Sex and Culture (a 600+ page summary of a lifetime of research by Oxford social anthropologist J.D. Unwin), its author wrote, “As I went through what he found, I was repeatedly reminded of the thought I had as a philosophy student: some moral laws may be designed to minimize human suffering and maximize human flourishing long term.” Unwin compared cultures that value pre-nuptial chastity and absolute monogamy with cultures that do not, and the evidence showed that a sexual revolution has long-term, devastating consequences for culture and civilization.
In January 2020, Katy Carl recommended “The Law of Art,” an essay by James Matthew Wilson at The Catholic Thing. Wilson quotes Solzhenitsyn’s definition of what Wilson calls the classical theory of the artist, “The artist is simply one who perceives the order embedded in and constituting reality and makes it visible in some striking, new, analogous way. The artist is a receptive medium for truth to speak again to us, in the world and of the world, in all its depth, form, and wisdom.” Wilson goes on to write that Solyzhenitsyn viewed classical theory as inadequate to account for the undefinable magic of art and that—although classical theory comes close— Solzhenitsyn’s qualification was correct; no theory can completely capture what art is for, because, “The end of the virtue of art is the new work, which resists our theories. Theories stand outside art and meddle with its internal deliberations, necessities, and laws that are already hidden within and waiting to be realized.”