UVA Cemetery Tour

I’ve been taking daily walks through the University of Virginia Cemetery to get some fresh air during quarantine, and the official walking tour leaves a lot to be desired. You can imagine: the cemetery itself is a lot of illustrious male professors and male librarians and male soldiers next to graves marked “wife of.” I thoughtContinue reading “UVA Cemetery Tour”

Cartas de América #19: we have got to write better hagiographies

It is necessary to tell stories about powerful men getting erotic satisfaction out of domination and violence being on the wrong side of God. It is good to shout that their victims are the holy ones. It is essential for the moral credibility of the Church to grasp these dynamics in the past if weContinue reading “Cartas de América #19: we have got to write better hagiographies”

Cartas de América #17: the first indigenous nuns tell their own stories

The first painting I saw when I walked into Painted in Mexico/Pinxit Mexici, currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, belongs to a favorite subgenre of mine: art that depicts art. Specifically, it depicts the altarpiece by Juan Rodríguez Juárez in the chapel at the Convent of Corpus ChristiContinue reading “Cartas de América #17: the first indigenous nuns tell their own stories”

Lessons from Valladolid: On Being Decent in an Indecent Age

When a Christian is caught between a political economy hostile to human flourishing and a Church all too often comfortable with the status quo, it is demoralizing to have recourse to an ugly, embattled public square. Who wants to have life-or-death debates in a cold professional setting? In what universe is pitting hostile voices againstContinue reading “Lessons from Valladolid: On Being Decent in an Indecent Age”

Cartas de América #15: if you want slavery abolished, you gotta do it yourself

Earlier this year, I told you about a project I’m working on for which the working title is Repent! (And Have It Notarized.) C’mon, that’s a way better dissertation title than “‘Ni un sólo maravedí que suyo sea’: the theology of restitution in New Spain,” right? Anyway, here’s a quick refresher: in 1552, Bartolomé deContinue reading “Cartas de América #15: if you want slavery abolished, you gotta do it yourself”

Cartas de América #12: thoughts from the roof of the Trocadero Hotel

On October 19, 1901, Alberto Santos=Dumont (he was fond of using an equals sign, not a hyphen, to honor his Brazilian and French heritage equally) climbed to the roof of the Trocadero Hotel. He’d only been flying for nine minutes when he made it to the Eiffel Tower, suspended in glory by hydrogen gas andContinue reading “Cartas de América #12: thoughts from the roof of the Trocadero Hotel”

Cartas de América #11: ¡viva la religión y muera el mal gobierno!

On December 12, 1794, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Dominican friar named fray Servando Teresa de Mier approached the pulpit to rewrite history. For this he was investigated by the Inquisition, sent to Spain to be put on trial, was sentenced to ten years’ exile, and was banned from preaching and confessingContinue reading “Cartas de América #11: ¡viva la religión y muera el mal gobierno!”

Cartas de América #9: REPENT! (and have it notarized)

In 1552, Bartolomé de las Casas proposed material restitution for involvement in colonization and indigenous enslavement as a condition for absolution. Let’s talk about that. Cartas de América #9: REPENT! (and have it notarized)

Cartas de América #7: all thinkpieces should be written in octava real

It’s not just that the Spanish lost the war. This poem is about how wrong they were to have fought it in the first place. … All of which is to say, don’t let anybody tell you the Spanish didn’t know what they were doing. Don’t let anybody remind you to judge people by theContinue reading “Cartas de América #7: all thinkpieces should be written in octava real”

Cartas de América #6: feminist nun manifestos and other viceregal drama

In today’s issue of my LatAm newsletter: This 17th-century nun was a savant, playwright, poet, intellectual, and international superstar. You won’t believe what happens next. Cartas de América #6: feminist nun manifestos and other viceregal drama