Category: Arts and Culture

The term “art” covers a broad spectrum of creativity. In the absolute sense only God can “create,” because creation implies making something out of nothing. Man can imitate his Creator by being creative, however it is more accurate to say that man “produces” or “makes.” In “making” (faciendo) man must work with matter that already exists.

What does the word itself mean? The schoolmen define art as “the right method of producing,” (recta ratio factibilium) in contrast to ethics or morals, which is “the right way of acting, or doing.”

The arts can be visual, as in painting and sculpture; performing, as in music and dance; or literary, as in poetry. Nowadays the term is used in a much wider sense than in past centuries. The crafts, writing, film making, photography, and other media which exhibit what is beautiful, are all styled “art” today.

Culture, on the other hand, is specific and, usually, but not always, ethnic. Father Hardon’s Catholic Dictionary defines culture as “the personality of a society.” Notice he uses the broader term “society” rather than “race” or “people.” One cannot, therefore, speak of a “nation” as having a culture, because a nation is abstract; it is the people of a nation that produce a culture. Italy does not have a culture, but Italians do. And Italians certainly have subcultures within their generic culture, as Sicilians have personal characteristics far different than Florentines.

Cultures are not created, they are “cultivated.” And that maturation often takes centuries. Is there a “Catholic” culture? Most definitely, but it is not that of a people, but of a religion. The Incarnation of the Son of God, who was born into the Jewish culture, elevated all cultures. He who was not image able, became image able. Culture and art could now express that image ability in a thousand different ways. The best expressions make the matter that we all know, intuitively, as Catholic culture.

A Summer Place

As I write these words, Summer is halfway through. Now, to many people, especially those living in colder climes, this is a magical season — warm, inviting, filled with vacations from work and especially school, sojourns at lake- or seaside … Continue reading

But God Is Also Beauty

God is Being, its very fullness and source. Which means that God is One, is Truth, and is Goodness. God, in fact, is each one of the transcendentals (dictionary definition, Wikipedia article). Why? Because He truly has these properties, and God’s … Continue reading

Barbarian Triumph

It was one hundred years ago, on July 17, 1918, that Russia’s Tsar Nicholas II and his family were murdered — shot, bayoneted and bludgeoned — on the orders of Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin. Since his canonization by the Russian … Continue reading