madonna may hold catholicism responsible for all her childhood oppression and torment. but after a recent trip to my family’s ancestral parish, I realize now that the religion i resented as a youth is probably singularly responsible for my career.
while I am still a strong opponent to the corrupt, imperial, sexist, and immoral cartel that is the Roman Catholic Church, i cannot help but be grateful for the powerful introduction to art and western civilization that it offered. newly minted members of the upper middle class, my parents were simply not exposed to art history and to a large extent not interested.
much like the pre-modern church provided free access to literacy and opened a scholarly path for the self-selecting population of clergy, the tracked path of catholic education enabled both parents–my mother in particular–to attend college and gain entree into white collar professions.
loyalty to the church meant endless evenings and every sunday dedicated to religious study. family vacations invariably included visits to cathedrals and eventually epic European tours–unintentional Grand Tours.
there were church bells ringing (literally) when I realized that my perceived emotional experience of god was an outgrowth of my love for art and music. And once in an art history course, I realized I knew all the stories and had seen a great deal of the work.
Anyway, enough that rant. here are a few more images of the family church….