Paintings and Pictures, Absence and Presence, by Joseph R. Wood

The Virtue of Gun Ownership and the Decline of Manliness, by Josh Hammer
March 26, 2021
Simplify Your Life, by Randy Hain
March 26, 2021

*Image: Une Mère (A Mother) by Elizabeth Nourse, 1888 [Cincinnati Art Museum]

By Joseph R. Wood, The Catholic Thing, March 26, 2021

Dr. Joseph Wood teaches at the Institute of World Politics in Washington D.C. and is a Fellow at Cana Academy


Joseph R. WoodThe power of images is, for better and worse, immense. It’s felt in everything around us, from beautiful stained glass to advertising to pornography. This power drove primitive man to fashion images of animals, people, and gods.

The dangers in such power perhaps lie behind God’s warning in Exodus not to make “a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven or above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” We seem to have a tendency to pass from images to idols.

My direct concern here is not iconoclasm, or the push to cleanse images from the religious or political sphere, which erupts from time to time. Rather, I want to understand the power of images that ignite destructive impulses. …