A luminous mystery from the New World

Cristóbal de Villalpando (1649-1714), born and trained in Mexico City, was arguably the most important painter in the New World of the 17th century. Influenced by Europeans like Peter Paul Rubens, Villalpando created his own distinctive brand of New World Hispanic art — rich in bright colors and bold contrasts, filled with ornamental detail and biblical symbolism. Not much is known…

Bart’s Problem

The mansion of the new atheism has many rooms. The top floor is reserved for scientific types like Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett. These are the folks who claim that religious beliefs can’t bear up to rational scrutiny and that God is a dangerous delusion we need to be done with.

Watt’s Up!?

Into this season of rolling blackouts and energy crunches comes an enlightening reminder that electricity has only been something we could demand for about 100 years. “Light! The Industrial Age 1750-1900, Art & Science, Technology & Society,” on display until July 29 at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, tells the story of how something we could never quite understand became something we can’t imagine living without.

The Pope of Hope

In an unsigned review printed in the New English Weekly in 1932, George Orwell remarked: “Very few people, apart from Catholics themselves, seem to have grasped that the Church is to be taken seriously.”

A Feminine Flank in The Counter-Reformation

To read the early accounts of her life, you would think that the most remarkable thing about Josefa de Óbidos’ art was the fact that she was a woman. Certainly, she defied the conventions of her moment in 17th-century Portugal—where it was assumed that men painted and preached, bought and sold, fought wars and thought big thoughts, while the fairer…

Inherited Estates

Nobody’s Fool Richard Russo Random House, 1993 Book Review Sully has a chip on his shoulder the size of his long–dead old man, Big Jim Sullivan, a mean drunk and domestic menace, still as big as a door frame in his memories—a ghost he still gives the finger to each time he passes the graveyard. A profile of improvidence and…

More Than A Feminist

 The Moral Vision of Dorothy Day: A Feminist Perspective June E. O’Connor Crossroad, 1991 Book Review At first blush, Dorothy Day wouldn’t seem to make much of a feminist. “Women’s liberation,” she told an interviewer in 1975, “is too self-centered. It’s not geared to the poor but to articulate middle-class women with time on their hands, the ones who have…

On The Wrong Day

Entertaining Angels: The Dorothy Day Story Directed by Michael Ray Rhodes Paulist Pictures, 1996 Film Review It’s too bad the new film biography of Dorothy Day has only a hearsay acquaintance with her life. Because Catholics and others could use a timely retelling of Day’s dramatic story—which reads like the life of an ancient saint updated for 20th–century America. Growing up…

Madonnas of A Modernist

Joseph Stella is remembered most for being one of America’s greatest modernist painters. Man Ray’s memorable portrait, circa 1920, poses him belly up to a bar behind a bottle of beer and a Spanish guitar. With his broad-brim hat and his wise-guy smile, it’s the portrait of the artist as bard and bringer of new songs for a new world.…