Tuesday, June 9, 2015


FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND:  "The problem of living does not begin with the question of how to take care of rascals, of how to prevent deliquency or hideous crimes.  The problem of living begins with the realization that all of us blunder in our dealings with our fellow men.  The silent atrocities, the secret scandals, which no law can prevent, are the true seat of moral infection."  from Abraham Joshua Heschel's, "God in Search of Man"
QUOTE II:  "Evil is not only a threat, it is also a challange."  same source

Here are some pics of a sunset from the top of the Saint Sebastian bell tower.

Here is a great article - "Can I Pray for the Cavs?"  Read HERE.
Bishop Lennon wrote an article that says knowing your faith helps you live it better.  Read it HERE.
Adam sent in a great article: People leaving the Church for cheesecake.  Read HERE.


Chris P. said...

Mark Judge may be an imperfect ambassador, and he may or may not be taking his stand for the right reasons...

But I don't think he's wrong.

Oh, he's wrong about leaving the Church, and I don't necessarily think that the Church has any vested stake in subsidizing lines of work, but Art is one human discipline that the Church should be at the cutting edge of.

Keating's quote of Weber follows -
I have asked prominent Catholic scholars and theologians why the Catholic Church has no foundation, think tank, fellowship, or even website for the study of popular culture. . . . Surely something, perhaps a single fellowship at a Catholic think tank, might not be a bad idea?

I won't pretend to know the extent of how true that is - but if it's partially or mostly true, it should be something we look at as a giant family. I mean, it's been 40+ years since he passed and Tolkien is probably the Catholic writer with the strongest presence in current culture. Which is either a wonderful statement to Tolkien's strength or a damning statement on current Catholic writing.

Where are the strongest Catholic voices in literature right now? It's probably more in the apologetics realm than anything else. I mean, I love that Catholic Answers does what they do, and it's very important work, but their audience is not broad, and their subject matter is narrow. Answering objections is important, but capturing imaginations is essential. Thomas Merton did it by writing compelling prose - but it's up to us as Catholic individuals (as well as the Church) to encourage and support artists who are strong in their faith to produce the kind of quality art that can break through.

That is to say, we should aspire to have artists... not "Catholic Artists," but artists. If we produce artists who are strong in their faith - then you won't need to paint a picture of a saint or write a poem about the Holy Family, or sing about Jesus. It will come through. Mark Judge may or may not be likely to be the break-through artist I dream about, but it doesn't make his point less valid.

Redearth said...

I agree with you partially Chris, I'm with you that leaving the Church for whatever reason he gave seemed more childish rather than a mature stance on the issue. From the article it seemed like he was upset he wasn't supported for his art in the Church, which begs the question on if he was really that good. I've never seen his stuff and I can't make the call but I will say that the whole underlying attitude I gathered from the event was one of an artist who did not get the recognition that he felt he deserved so he went elsewhere. Not to put words in his mouth, it just seems that way.
If there is one thing I know about the Church is that it is slow moving on things, for good reason, trends come and go and in order to make a wise call that takes time. Capturing the imagination is crucial and thats a brilliant statement, the question is, how? In today's culture there is hardly an deepness in pop culture at all, do you make something shallow in order to get attention or do you work at something that is deep and will require something of the audience to appreciate. Catholic answers is a great apologetics ministry but comparing them to art in outreach is hard, its comparing a priest to the people in one sense. There's a specialized role that cannot be transferred between the two. Yet, some of the reasons I converted to Catholicism is because of the books available by Catholic Answers, " Behold Your Mother" being the latest that has had a huge impact. In fact its been crucial in discussing things with my protestant friends.
Ok, back to the point. I think that Mark left without doing the one thing possible, starting the very thing he desired. Sure he may have had resistance and had setbacks and people directly opposed, but if it was that important he would have set his hands to the plow. I hardly expect the Church to have my back in everything I do, that's not the point, but in everything I do I hope to serve the Church and the Lord Himself. That's why I took over running the Academy. I know its a crucial part of the future in Arts and education. Its a matter of if not now, when? I know the importance of good quality music and art which is deep and meaningful, and it starts in education and training. It starts in the grueling hours of practice and then rejection and starting again. That is what I hope to teach the next generation of Artists and Performers. That good art requires blood, ones own blood, in order to grow. That engaging in Art in the Church is for the Church, sure one is bound to get trampled on in the Church, its not a safe place for Art, but its also the most powerful place for it. Like what Gandalf said when Frodo asked him about Strider " Is he safe?" "Safe?!? My dear boy he's the most dangerous person you'll ever meet, but he is good." ( that was a paraphrase but one of my favorite lines) Is the Church safe for Art? No, but it is good, it will force one to confront ones own insecurities and require one to walk out forgiving people who say foolish and spiteful things but those are things we will encounter daily in the world. Should the church be different? Yes, but its full of people on the same blessed journey working out our salvation with fear and trembling. I hope Mark becomes aware of the potential for himself in the Church, not in one of position of authority, but one of service, The chief artist washed his disciples feet, I believe for myself that is the place to start for the Arts.

Chris P. said...

Oh, I don't disagree that Mark should have worked to make something... anything happen. He quit too easily, and if there's one think I know about my faith, it's that it tests you and makes you work when you don't want to and pushes you and makes you uncomfortable.

I also didn't mean to diminish Catholic Answers - in fact, "Behold Your Mother" is my current "Adoration Reading Project." When I say that they are the most prolific and exceptional writers we offer right now, I mean that partially as admiration for the quality of work they produce - but partially as a strike against what we're offering in more accessible fields.

(Here comes the point where I awkwardly reference Catholic Answers after talking about them being too inaccessible for mass consumption)

I actually heard Dana Gioia speak far more eloquently that I can on this exact subject on a Catholic Answers Podcast, but he's done deeper work in some articles in Jesuit Press and has an amazing criticism essay on poetry that he wrote 20 years ago. He's an exceptional Catholic artist who approaches life and work from a very Catholic perspective and rarely if ever does it on ecclesiastical subject matter. Gioia is the former NEA head and is a world renown poet, as much as that art form doesn't permeate culture these days.

I'm passionate about this area because for one to really understand the Church and its pursuit of the truth - one has to accept that there is truth in the humanities. Most people feel humanities are the home for subjective thought and the sciences are the place for objective thought. People rarely accept that there is truth in a college course on Literature or Art or Languages or Philosophy or even Religion.. however people most certainly accept the truths in Law... never stopping to think that Literature and Art and Languages and Religion and Philosophy are the critical backbones upon which Law is built.

I've talked about this before on here and I hate to rehash things... but history is my favorite subject. History is at the crossroads of the humanities and the sciences. Half of history is philosophy and literature and half is things like archaeology and architecture. In the past 75 years history has swung heavily from the former to the latter. And it's largely great, we have the most accurate history we've ever produced and have data points and information that have been checked and rechecked and verified. And we know more about history than we ever have. We know when Alexander moved out of Persia, what he did, how he moved his armies and how he opened up the world for the flourishing of art and culture in the ancient world and how many people died in the wars and that his empire broke up when he died, and how Hellenism flourished, etc etc..

But if you only accept that as data, and don't account for humanities, you reduce what he did to mere data. You discount motivations and the fact that he didn't do it to spread Hellenism and culture, he did it because he was an egocentric butcher closer to an ancient Assyrian leader or Herod or Hitler. You can't get to truth without the Humanities.

I think we can really flourish as a faith if we can find a way to be more involved in the arts. You're absolutely right - secular society has reduced art to a shallow level in many cases. I feel like there's a vacancy in arts that the Church could play a large part in filling and it would be the strongest evangelization movement we've had in a while.

Something like the Academy which we're blessed enough to have at St. S. and which you are doing amazing work by taking on is something I pray can be copied at parishes throughout the Diocese and beyond.