Would someone please answer the following question for me: Why do Americans – actually, I think Westerners generally, but I will stick with Americans – believe art is something that must be approached so … well … seriously? With most art, most Americans seem to believe that, when looking at a painting or a piece of sculpture or seeing a play or listening to a piece of music, they are obligated, on pain of being branded as culture-phobic philistines, to wear a facial expression that announces to the world Pity me! I am dying of terminal hemorrhoids!
Well, before anyone makes any cracks about that remark, I will back up a step or two and say that, yes, to be sure, some works of art are explicitly intended to evoke play, laughter, and light-hearted dalliance. A good example is
The US Constitution explicitly outlines the causes and procedures for impeachment of the President and other ministers of the US government, e.g., Supreme Court Justices. These are the so-called “impeachment clauses”. (Other parts of the Constitution deal with impeachment, but this is the most relevant for present purposes). Prof. Alan Dershowitz, despite being unfairly perceived as being contaminated through association with Fox News, has performed a valuable service, especially in books like Trumped Up: How the Criminalization of Political Differences Endangers Democracy, by urgently advising against the weaponization of political differences, and even free speech, as tools to further purely political ends. As anyone knows who has followed my “Skeptic’s Collection” columns over th
Like any other ideology-based group or community, Christian communities – churches and even entire denominations – have their own hortatory idioms, their own shibboleths, often drawn from the biblical text itself. One of the biggies for me, growing up as a fundamentalist Baptist, was “Saved by grace through faith,” right out of Ephesians 2:8-9. As a Catholic, I remember being admonished to “Follow your [i.e., my] vocation [or sometimes ‘calling’]”. As a non-fundamentalist but still conservative evangelical Christian, I well remember assurances that “God has a wonderful plan for your [my] life” (usually those exact words). Now, just so there is no misunderstanding, most of the time, these exhortations are just harmless rhetoric. (Usually … there are exceptions, e.g., the “Follow