Correspondence

In Darkest London, Part 2

This is the second part of a two-part article written by a white male Catholic convert, 48 years old, who has no specialist theological training whatsoever, is of strictly average intelligence, and represents no interest group or political movement.  It derives solely from a recent visit to London, in which nothing spectacularly horrible occurred, and which was spent mostly among people neither very rich nor very poor.

In Part 1 of this report (see Correspondence, May) I attempted to give some idea of the cultural, political, and moral squalor that has overtaken London since 1990.  Here I endeavor to give an account of the two phenomena—two alone—that gave me hope for the city of which Dr. Johnson said, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.”

One was an exhibition at the National Gallery: “The Sacred Made Real,” a collection of 17th-century Spanish religious art.  If someone had told me fifteen or even five years ago that Londoners would flock to see some of the most hyper-realistic Crucifixion statues ever made, I would have laughed at the notion.  But this very thing happened in my presence.  Tickets were so scarce as to require 24 hours’ advance notice for booking.  The crowds bore no resemblance to those I had seen at the nearby National Portrait Gallery a day earlier.  There, Americans and Chinese surrounded me.  At the Spanish exhibition,...

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