New Dappled Things

Well, now. The good people at Dappled Things have a new issue out, and it looks to be a fine one. Naturally, they start out with a poem from The Wisconsin Poet, and then use his mention of skeletal cathedrals to segue into this illustrated essay by architect Matthew Alderman on the project that won him the Rambusch Prize for Sacred Architecture, a never-to-be-built(?) seminary for the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest in, of all places, La Crosse, Wisconsin. A snippet:

“I have retained my old loves, but added new ones—a deep interest in the later Gothic revival, an occasional taste for art deco, an eagerness to take on the austere and simple, when reality necessarily intrudes. But I would have never gotten here had I not first tackled this grand paper project. Architectural decorum reminds us that a grand building requires grand ornament—something I still firmly believe—but grand ornament requires funding that is not always at hand. To design a beautiful, strong, and simple structure, you must design a beautiful, strong, and complex one first, and then carefully, gently, and logically remove all the bits reality cannot quite handle yet. This is how you pack as much as you can into as little as you may have been given. The simplicity of the California missions could not have blossomed without the exuberance of Mexico’s cathedrals before it. And we may yet have that glorious, busy exuberance in small doses, as the classical revival continues to grow outward and upward, as the Institute brings Baroque Rome to Chicago, or converted Anglicans plant English Gothic parishes in Texas.”

But wait, there’s more! Dappled Things President Bernardo Aparicio and EIC Katy Carl interview Carlos Eire, whose memoir Waiting for Snow in Havana won the Pulitzer Prize:

KC: What would you say to the (presumably Catholic) reader who might be put off by the repetition of “Jesus H. (adjective here) Christ”? It seems that there is a highly specific purpose in these repetitions, and that they are not intended to be irreverent—that you had a purpose so strong that it compelled you to take the risk of being read as irreverent. Can you talk about that?

CE: That’s the Jesus prayer, pure and simple. I’m hoping, in a very jesuitical way, to—as St. Ignatius of Loyola would say—to go fishing. He used to go “fishing for souls”—that’s what he would call it. He would go [out] and he’d corral people on the street and try to talk to them in their own language, and he’d sometimes start by being irreverent to hook them in. Fishing for souls. I had that very much in mind with “Jesus H.” There’s a way in which this is the ultimate irony—that people in our culture have this very brittle, extremely brittle, notion of Jesus as totally serious and totally serious about himself—which I think is so wrong, so utterly wrong. All you have to do is look at a crucifix and you realize, “My God, this is a reversal of all values.” . . . If God became a human being to suffer and be like us, it’s because there’s something so wrong here that needs to be fixed. It’s the ultimate emptying, kenosis—and that has to be taken so seriously. So if I joke about Jesus in a lighthearted way, it’s not out of irreverence, it’s out of the deepest possible reverence, hoping that in the same way as the Incarnation—against reason—it might actually get the message across to someone who doesn’t like Christianity. That there’s something in there that accepts the humor and the mocking and the self-abasement. What such people think Christianity is all about is the church lady on Saturday Night Live. I wanted to go the opposite direction from the church lady. (laughs) I may actually at some point do a book called “Jesus H.” It’ll be sort of a meditation on the passages of the Gospels with all the most ridiculous things Jesus does. Jesus H. Fish-eating Christ. Jesus H. Whip-making Christ. All these things that Jesus does that are somehow bizarre.


  1. Matthew,

    Had I known the good folks at DT were going to honor my poem in this fashion, I would have added, to further develop the cathedral motiff, that Father Gorman, to whom the poem is dedicated, is the rector of St. Joseph the Workman Cathedral in La Crosse, Wis.

    A son of our local parish St. Philip's, Rolling Ground, he grew up not far from the little unincorporated town of Excelsior which is the subject of the poem. He is a close friend of the family and married my wife and I.


  2. Matthew,

    Thanks again, too, for the mention!


  3. Please, can you PM me and tell me few more thinks about this, I am really fan of your blog…


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