Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Particularly Relevant Francisco Suarez

Anyone who has Francisco Suarezbeen following American politics in recent months has probably been alarmed by seeing the rapid advance of statism in our country, ranging from government attempts to nationalize certain industries to the aggressive attempts to impose government-ordered utilitarian morality on all citizens, controlling their every thought and action.  There has been much underground complaining about this, but many Americans are afraid to complain out loud for fear that they will be attacked by everything ranging from the media to the tax authorities.  And this made me think of the consent of the governed, which made me think of Francisco Suarez.

He was born in Granada in 1548 and studied at the university in Salamanca.  He became a member of the Jesuit order and was ordained a priest in 1572, spending most of the rest of his life as a university professor in Spain and Portugal, where he died in 1617.

He was considered a Scholastic or follower of St. Thomas Aquinas and wrote widely on philosophy and theology, but it is his legal and political writing that probably had the greatest impact, particularly his thoughts on the source of law and the consent of the governed.  Thomas Jefferson and other Enlightenment political thinkers are believed to have been directly or indirectly influenced by Suarez, whose writing rejecting the divine right of kings and insisting on the state and its government as human creations that depended on the consent of those subject to them was well known.  His ideas were particularly influential in the Latin American independence movements.

Reading through a summary of his thought – at what point a government can no longer be said to have the consent of the governed, for example, and what is to be done about it – I was struck by the timeliness of it. But I suppose that this is because there is, as Ecclesiastes said, nothing new under the sun. Facade of U. de Salamanca

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Día de San José

Today, the Feast of St Joseph, is a favorite feast day among Spaniards. St Joseph is also one of my favorite saints. He is often shown with carpenter's tools and one of my best memories of the day is being in Cartagena one St Joseph's Day and seeing a procession of little boys bearing silver tools - not only for carpentry, but things like shovels and axes - as they marched behind a paso bearing a figure of St Joseph.

The San José you see in this photo is a sculpture by Pedro Roldán, the 17th century sculptor who was the father of the famous court sculptor, Luisa Roldán, known as "La Roldana."

This is the feast day of people named José, Josefina, etc. You may know a Pepe - his real name, of course, is José. San José, the stepfather of Jesus, was known in the Latin Missal as the "Padre Putativo" of Jesus, and often referred to with those initials, P.P. In Spanish, this is pronounced "pe pe," hence the name, Pepe.

Buñuelos are a traditional treat for this day in Spain. In some areas, they are similar to Italian zeppole, but I like the Madrid style, the buñuelo de viento, which is also traditional at All Saints Day. It is made of a batter similar to cream puff paste, fried so that it puffs up into little balls. These are then filled with pastry cream or whipped cream and sprinkled with sugar. Yum!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Great Articles on Art in Spain

Cruising around the Internet, I happened to come across a little collection of articles in the TIMES ONLINE (the London Times' online version) about places of artistic interest in Spain. The articles are short and cover everything from the usual scene, the Prado, to smaller galleries or simply the places where Spain's artists have worked - and dined - over the centuries. Entitled Artistic Spain, the set of articles is well worth reading.

I hope to work on Towers of Avila a little more regularly now. I have been occupied with the redesign of my website, Spanish Nativity, which has taken every spare moment. But the worst is over now, and I can drop back to simply tinkering with it on an ongoing basis and get back to my other interests.