A Brief History of Modesty

Walking through the Louvre the other day, I was struck by how different the Greek and Roman sculpture exhibits are from those of the medieval period.  In the latter, chastity and motherhood are celebrated instead of the purely sensual. The symbols and representational artwork of natural religion have remained constant through the ages.  They may … Read more

Greece in Germany

M. Legaspi argues that we cannot understand the change in attitude towards the Old Testament in German universities in the 18th and 19th centuries without also considering the way in which classics departments in these same universities embraced ancient Greek literature.   Legaspi writes, German philhellenism was not simply a movement: it was a “faith”.  To … Read more

Power and the Poor

Gnaeus Mallius Maximus (thrived circa 100 BC) sought powers to grant Roman citizenship as a way to expand his power base.   He also began to recruit men for his army from the very lowest census rank.  With regard to these innovations, Sallust remarked, If a man is ambitious for power, he can have no better … Read more

Comfort, Comfort my People

“Nothing in the horizon. Nothing in the sky… Around him are darkness, storm, solitude, wild and unconscious tumult, the ceaseless tumbling of the fierce waters; within him horror and exhaustion.” – Victor Hugo, Les Miserables The people of Judah in Isaiah’s day might have identified with Hugo’s description of the drowning man.  They too, were … Read more

Kissinger on Morality

The following is an excerpt from a letter that Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State, wrote to the relatives of a boy who survived the Holocaust. I feel it necessary to write to you because I think a completely erroneous picture exists in the States of the former inmates of the concentration camps.  Concentration camps were … Read more

Mary in Jerusalem

Timeline The Bordeaux Pilgrim (333) – Mary is absent from the map of the Bordeaux pilgrim, even in Bethlehem. Egeria (fifty years later)  – Egeria makes no mention of specific sites dedicated to Mary. Epiphanius (320-403) – In his Panariaon Epiphanius presents aberrant beliefs about Mary’s death as ‘popular misconceptions that he thinks could lead … Read more