“For all of the Catholic Church and its horrible faults, and there are many”—here, Egginton ticks off a list that includes the Church’s restricting a woman’s right to choose an abortion and proscribing condom use during the AIDS crisis—“I love the ritual of the ceremony, the smell of the incense, the stopping of time. Even though I’m a liberal and often progressive in my thinking, I’m impressed with the anchor of time that is part of religion.” It’s been more than 20 years since he took confession, but he’d like to try it again soon, he says. “I could see putting myself before the question of guilt and forgiveness.”

I wasn’t finding much of value in this article about William Egginton, but man, I just had to stop and marvel at such a potent mixture of self-unawareness and fortunate privilege. Yeah, sure, if you’re a woman, a homosexual, or a sub-Saharan African with AIDS, you might lack the necessary perspective from which to appreciate the pageantry of the Church. But if you’re a white male professor in America, you can wax rhapsodic about perverts in gowns waving incense burners and chanting in dead languages while still being taken seriously as a voice of reason. Nice work if you can get it.