It is one of the most short sighted agendas in our culture that our poor need food, shelter, clothing and medical attention and that then we have done our job. What a horrendous mode of existence. It is one of the terrible blunders of housing for the poor. We build large, ugly buildings in which to warehouse people and wonder why they are not more inspired.
In the Holy Land, the places where we visited were not beautiful places to live. (I have been assured that in other locations there than the ones we visited the case is much different.) There was very little in the way of public art, in many areas the litter was as abundant as leaves on the ground in Ohio in the fall, there were few parks and, for the most part, I was not inspired by the architecture. (There are many reasons that this should be the case, but just the same, this is the way I saw it.) What was beautiful were the places of worship. Entering in, one would see (often) good and inspiring architecture, art (some great, some adequate) music, order and (to varying degrees) cleanliness. They are places (at least in theory) that are open to the rich and the poor alike. It is a God send (quite literally) that they exist. One is transported from the traffic and crowds and heat of he day to a place of serenity and beauty of which the poor are particularly in need.
One might say that in the United States, we have plenty of publicly accessible art to inspire rich and poor alike and that we should spend all of the money on the poor. (Let us set aside for a moment that the largest contributor to the poor in the world - governments included - is the Catholic Church and that most of the people making these accusations do so while not living in ugly houses in order for them to give more money to the poor yet not invited the poor in to enjoy their homes.) But even so, where is the public art the inspires anyone in our Christian Judaeo heritage? Such art is eschewed today. It is not funded.
Add to that the amount of public art in West Akron that no longer exists. The Indian on West Exchanged was removed albeit for safety and preservation reasons. A statue of the early pilgrims that once was on the property of ACME #1 was removed with promises that they would provide a new piece of art (which has yet to happen.) Where is the ONE place you can go to be inspired by truly and unapologetically Christian art? Your church (at least I hope.)
Not only that, if we do not inspire artists where will they hone their skills? By people who will hire them. If we do not - look around at who will willingly pay them and what messages are being delivered to our culture.
Not only is it patently not hypocritical for the Church to engage in the mindset of being patroness of the arts, she is grossly failing her people, particularly the poor, if she does not. A pastor who allows his parish to order “art” out of a catalogue should be horsewhipped. (Well, maybe he should just go to confession.) The parish is the original “free museum.” The keeper of a culture in a greater culture that is increasingly divergent. To do anything less is woefully negligent.