Correspondence

Bible-Belt Baroque

For some time, my friends Jeff and Rebecca Calcutt (a pair of Southern patriots sans pareil), had urged me to pay a visit to Bob Jones University in Greenville.  I have no interest in driving to Greenville, I told them.  I don’t like mountains, not even little ones.  I don’t like Clemson fans, with those ridiculous tiger paws plastered all over their windshields.  Besides, I don’t know anyone in Greenville, so I’d be forced to hole up in some sterile, soul-sucking Comfort Inn and drink my Wild Turkey out of a plastic cup.  But they insisted.  They hounded me for months.  You must!  Why must I?  Because Bob Jones, it seems, has an art museum—and not just any art museum, but one of the best collections of Old Masters in the country.  I was astonished.  I was skeptical.  I was tempted with a brochure.  According to the brochure, the Bob Jones Museum houses, among other notable works, Lucas Cranach the Elder’s Salome With the Head of John the Baptist, a painting I’d always found amusing.  “Besides,” said Rebecca, “you can get a Chronicles article out of the trip.  Think of it, a museum at the most notoriously fundamentalist university in America crammed with mostly Catholic art!  Surely, Chronicles will pay you enough to cover the cost of a night at the Comfort Inn?”  “Almost,” I replied.

So,...

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