Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fr. Robert Barron; Evangelizing Through Beauty

Listen to his lecture on evangelizing through beauty here.

Fr. Barron provides some very good insights in this talk. What struck me was how he said that it is showing people the beauty of the faith which is going to really draw people in. I appreciate how he integrates art into his evangelization style for this reason. I was watching some trailers for Fr. Barron's "Catholicism Project" series he is developing. The trailers along with this lecture are reassuring in that they are indicators of a movement I have noticed toward an increased interest in the role of art in the Church today.

Here are some trailers for the Catholicism Project. They are very high quality and you will see how Fr. Barron's interest in art is very apparent by watching them.


This series, which I believe is going to be available sometime in the fall on TV and DVD, brings to mind a quote from Fr. James Alberione, founder of one of the religious communities I'm considering. I don't remember the exact quote but it communicated the idea that the way the Gospel, the faith, is presented must be fitting in being of high quality. If you present the good news through means which are poor quality or cheesy they are not appropriate to the beauty and importance of the message. Fr. Barron really gets this. Here is my favorite thing that he said, in the first trailer I posted: "Catholicism is smart. Catholicism is beautiful. Catholicism is colorful. It's textured. It engages the mind and the heart and the body." YES! And he responds to this conviction with a commitment to providing highest quality means of communicating the faith. One reason why I am so offended by bad art, as I communicated in my post Emasculation of Jesus is that I wonder how many people have been turned away from the Catholic faith because of lame music, bad art, horrible architecture ect. I know I personally, if I didn't know that Heaven met Earth in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, wouldn't be drawn in by the beauty of the music (not saying that the person leading the music is necessarily a bad singer- though that could be the case). Same goes for the architecture in some modern Churches, some of these instead of drawing the mind and spirit to contemplate the beauty of God his Bride the Church instead are more evocative of a space station. (I have one particular church in mind when I say this). Something has gone wrong with the Church as is evident in the production of such poor art, there needs to be a spiritual-artistic renewal of Catholic Culture. Ok, yeah- so this is just a long way of me going about saying I like what I see in what Fr. Barron is doing! Later I'll write more about my feelings regarding the relationship between mediocrity of art and spiritual lukewarmness, I think I'm on to something there.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Artists and Theology of the Body

Below is an excerpt from an interview of Ann Slattery, of Stabat Mater Prayer Apostolate whose mission is to support artists primarily by praying for them. I came across this a while ago and since starting this blog have linked to this interview but I reread it recently and wanted to bring it to the forefront because of its importance.

(emphasis mine)

4. Part of your mission is to spread an understanding of the Theology of the Body through the arts. Why is the Theology of the Body important and relevant for artists? How can they incorporate and spread the principles and ideas outlined in TOB?

We live in a visual world. All of us are bombarded with hundreds, even thousands, of images on a daily basis. We process huge amounts of information through websites, email, television, and movies. The way we digest information has become so graphic. You want to know how to change out a flat tire? Look it up on YouTube. And, of course, we all know that many, many images rampant in our culture are trivial, demeaning to the true nature of human sexuality, and even blasphemous. That's why we think that Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body needs to be widely understood, especially by up-and-coming generations. And who better to communicate it to this image-saturated culture than artists? Artists who grasp this teaching are best equipped to spread it, because they can present it immediately and profoundly. It's a real challenge, and I am not sure how they will do it—I am not an artist—but I know that they can and will. It is not necessary to get a theology degree to realize the beauty of this teaching and the impact it is beginning to have on the world. In the Middle Ages, people learned the Faith primarily through the teachings presented in art (stained glass windows, statues, the cathedrals themselves). Today, we will see a turnabout in our culture, from one of death to one of life, when we begin to see (literally see) the revolutionary implication of the pope's teaching. He has so eloquently taught what it means to be human! Incidentally, we are offering this apostolate in thanksgiving for the life of John Paul II on earth and in anticipation of his eventual canonization.

For the entire interview go here.

Right there Ms. Slattery expresses exactly what has been compelling me ever since I first came across TOB, to communicate it through art. Another thing she touched upon which is also very much on my heart is for a generation of artists with a grasp of TOB to RISE UP and communicate the truth of the human person through their art. Artists have a critical role in bringing about a transformation in our culture, from a culture of death to a culture of life. A major reason I started this blog was so that others who have a call to communicate TOB through art can find me and we could mutually support each other-and I know there are others as I have come across some of them already. Who else does this resonate with? I want to hear from you, us TOB artists NEED each other. This is not to exclude those who are not artistically inclined, your contributions of exchange of ideas and prayer are indispensable. On this note Ann Slattery, who is not an artist herself, mentions that the invitation is extended to everyone to support and help bring about this artistic cultural renewal. If you want to learn more how to become a part of Stabat Mater Prayer Apostolate, go to the link. Ms. Slattery, in our one conversation thus far has been immensely helpful to me personally and I know she would be very encouraged to hear from others enthusiastic about what she's trying to get off the ground.