Self-cannibalization can take several forms. In the case of the Brooklyn Museum, it is an expression of the always overreaching activism of the Left. In the case of many religious institutions, and in particular many educational institutions with a religious core, the phenomenon often expresses itself in bizarre inversions. For reasons that are not entirely clear, Jesuit colleges seem peculiarly susceptible to this species of leftist autophagy. Anyone who has contemplated the recent careers of institutions like Georgetown or Notre Dame will instantly know what we mean. But perhaps the most extravagant single instance of perversion is offered by the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. Allow us to introduce you to Tat-siong Benny Liew, who glories in an endowed professorship in Religious Studies at Holy Cross. His fields include “synoptic gospels, gospel of John, cultural and racial interpretations and receptions of the Bible.” Really, however, he specializes in a phantasmagoria of sexual perversion overlaid like a toxic paste upon the religious texts he disfigures. In a remarkable piece of reporting for a college newspaper called The Fenwick Review, Elinor Reilly ’18 provides a portrait of a scholar, and a department, gone ludicrously wrong. One representative specimen of Liew’s “scholarship” is an essay called “Queering Closets and Perverting Desires: Cross-Examining John’s Engendering and Transgendering Word across Different Worlds”: “If one follows the trajectory of the Wisdom/Word or Sophia/Jesus (con)figuration,” Professor Liew explains, “what we have in John’s Jesus is not only a ‘king of Israel’ . . . but also a drag king (6:15; 18:37; 19:12), . . . a drag-kingly bride in his passion.” Ms. Reilly provides a brilliant, deadpan, and ultimately depressing anatomy of Professor Liew’s kinky misinterpretations of scripture. Remember: this is a religious studies professor in a nominally Catholic college. Indeed, according to Ms. Reilly, he is about to become chair of the department. We wonder how many parents knew what they signed up for when they sent their carefully brought-up children to Holy Cross.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 36 Number 9, on page 3
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