The ‘Trump Train’ Cartoon Is Not A Violence Dog Whistle

My article appears in The Federalist.

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Art Institute exhibit illustrates Gauguin’s eclectic spirituality

Portrait of the Artist with the Yellow Christ

Paul Gauguin. Portrait of the Artist with the Yellow Christ. 1890-1. Musée d’Orsay

My article appears in Chicago Catholic. Here’s the lede:

When Paul Gauguin arrived in Tahiti in 1981 sporting long hair and a wide-brimmed hat, the French, post-impressionist painter expected a culture that the West had largely left untainted. But the locals he met, who called him “taata vahine” (man-woman), weren’t noble savages.

“From his experience in the merchant marine, Gauguin was too well traveled to not have expected some colonial rule and resulting changes in Tahiti,” says Allison Perelman, an Art Institute of Chicago research associate. “However, the extent to which the island had been Westernized did shock him, and living in the capital, Papeete, he felt that he almost might as well have been back in Paris.”

Hoping to encounter indigenous culture, Gauguin was dismayed to see the ways missionaries — both Catholic and Protestant — had shaped the culture. That’s a narrative that surfaces several times in the Art Institute’s exhibit “Gauguin: Artist as Alchemist” (through Sept. 10).

Read the full piece here.

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Can Art Shed Light on the Ethics of Capital Punishment?

John Singer Sargent Gassed

John Singer Sargent. Gassed (1919). Oil on canvas, Imperial War Museums, London


My article appears in Sojourners magazine

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Fordham endures disputes over faculty health care, unionizing

Kyle Pritz holds his broken glasses

Kyle Pritz holds his glasses, which broke during a struggle with Fordham security. Photo: Menachem Wecker


My article appears in National Catholic Reporter. Here’s the lede:

NEW YORK — Over coffee at Rex, the hip, Upper West Side shop that Fordham University students haunt, Kyle Pritz, 28, pauses to hold his glasses up sideways. It looks as if something has taken a bite out of the piece of the plastic temple that ought to cover the right hinge. The missing part broke off about five weeks prior during a struggle with Fordham security.

Sustaining injuries and broken glasses and getting slapped with disciplinary action by the Jesuit school, which forced him, he said, to take an incomplete rather than graduate on time, wasn’t how things were supposed to go. Pritz, who grew up an hour north of Manhattan in Carmel, New York, chose Fordham for its values and participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program.

As a veteran, Pritz paid neither tuition nor fees at Fordham, which has touted a “veteran-friendly” reputation since the Civil War. Raised Lutheran, he isn’t religious but was drawn to Fordham’s mission. “I like how the Jesuits’ conception of God is God in everything,” he said. He was also impressed with Fordham’s social justice emphasis and what he understood to be the Jesuit history of “standing with the oppressed against corrupt and unjust power structures.”

That same sense of social justice led Pritz, a philosophy and psychology double major, to join about 50 students and faculty on April 27 outside Walsh Library, some 9.5 miles north of Rex on Fordham’s Bronx campus. The group voiced support for contingent, or adjunct, faculty, whose unionizing efforts the administration sought to block on religious grounds. The protesters then walked a couple of minutes northeast to Cunniffe House, home to the office of Jesuit Fr. Joseph McShane, Fordham’s president.

What happened next is the subject of much dispute between the administration and professors and students, and it is one of several incidents that threaten to further divide a campus upon which 80 percent of tenured and tenure-track faculty on April 19 voted — at a rate of 88 percent — no confidence in McShane.

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Despite smuggled antiquities purchase, some say criticism of Bible museum is unfair

Smugglers Way

Smugglers Way


My article “Despite smuggled antiquities purchase, some say criticism of Bible museum is unfair” appears in Religion News Service.

(It has also run in The Salt Lake Tribune and the Baptist Standard, and was mentioned on several blogs: PaleoJudaica.com, Zwinglius Redivivus, and The Way of Improvement Leads Home.)

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Artist’s drawing of a herring on a bialy gains an audience in Bialystok — and Hollywood

Herring on a Bialy by Mark Podwal

Herring on a Bialy by Mark Podwal


My article “Artist’s drawing of a herring on a bialy gains an audience in Bialystok — and Hollywood,” which draws upon an interview with Mel Brooks, appears in Religion News Service.

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(Playboy) “How Realistic Are ‘Game of Thrones’ Battle Scenes?”

Armor

Photo: Menachem Wecker


My article “How Realistic Are ‘Game of Thrones’ Battle Scenes?” appears in Playboy magazine.

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De Stijl, the movement of Mondrian, turns 100 (NCR)

A girl plays a piano decorated in Mondrian-style overlooking a canal in Leiden

A girl plays a piano decorated in Mondrian-style overlooking a canal in Leiden. Photo: Menachem Wecker


My article “De Stijl, the movement of Mondrian, turns 100” appears in National Catholic Reporter. Here’s the lede:

Piet Mondrian’s signature later style — red, blue and yellow rectangles embedded within a black grid — surfaces everywhere. It adorns the Partridge Family bus, it inspired the introduction of 1998 film “You’ve Got Mail,” and it appears in a scene midway through Katy Perry’s 2014 music video “This Is How We Do.” It’s not unusual to see Mondrian-styled works hanging on walls in movie and TV sets, and the artist’s style is featured in more than half a dozen “Simpsons” episodes. In one, Homer kneels, salivating, in front of an Andy Warhol Campbell’s Soup painting at the Springsonian Museum. To his left, the Mondrian hangs on the wall, as Homer exclaims of the soup, “With ham!”

As ubiquitous a trademark as Mondrian’s style is, many are unlikely to know much about the Dutch artist. Born Pieter Cornelis Mondriaan in 1872, the painter was part of the de Stijl movement, which turns 100 this year. The movement, founded by fellow Dutch artist Theo van Doesburg, distilled painting and architecture down to their most basic building blocks: verticals and horizontals in a palette of the three primary colors plus black and white.

Read the rest of the article here.

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Collection tells early American religious history (NCR)

NMAH

Credit: National Museum of American History

My article “Collection tells early American religious history,” about the National Museum of American History’s exhibit “Religion in Early America,” appears in National Catholic Reporter.

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(Sojourners) Iowa is Known for Its Politics, But What About Religious Diversity?

My article “Iowa is Known for Its Politics, But What About Religious Diversity?” appears in Sojourners magazine.

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