Category Archives: Arts and Culture
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.
This year, my High School religion course is covering, among other things, the Catholic doctrine concerning the Holy Ghost. Because I wanted to give my students a sense of how the rich heritage of Catholic art strives to express the orthodox Faith, I spent a few minutes in class showing them the Altarpiece of Boulbon. Dating from about the year 1450 and by an unknown … More →
Recently a future King of England, dressed in an open-collared shirt and without a jacket, slid behind the steering wheel of a car and drove his wife, new-born son and himself away from a maternity hospital in London. He drove, not a chauffeur or bodyguard. I couldn’t tell from the video I saw on You Tube what kind of car Prince William drove but it … More →
The Morgan Library & Museum, on Madison Avenue in New York, is hosting an exhibition called “Illuminating Faith: The Eucharist in Medieval Life and Art.” Here is the first paragraph of the Morgan Library’s description: When Christ changed bread and wine into his body and blood at the Last Supper, he instituted the Eucharist and established the central act of Christian worship. For medieval Christians, … More →
Patheos: If I had a time machine that could not only set me down not only in a particular date, but a particular place, I’d choose the Eagle and Child pub in Oxford on a Tuesday night in 1950 when C.S.Lewis was reading selections from his Chronicles of Narnia. He’d be there before a roaring fire with Tolkien and the other Inklings who gathered at … More →
In an unexpected way, my husband and I were recently led to a rather deep and deepening reflection on mourning (or mournfulness), and on its seeming incompatibility with human superficiality and human lukewarmness. We thereby also came to appreciate a new aspect or facet of the Parable (Matthew 5:3): “Blessed are they who mourn, for they themselves will be consoled.” (“Beati qui lugent, quoniam ipsi … More →
(Randy Engel/RenewAmerica) Following in the tradition of Mel Gibson’s ground breaking masterpiece, The Passion of Christ, the film Nicaea promises to be the second in what I hope will be a growing trend in the cinematic presentations of the divine and human drama of the 2000 year history of the Roman Catholic Church. The Executive Producer and brainchild behind Nicaea is Catholic layman Charles Parlato, … More →
“Death,” wrote poet Wallace Stevens, “is the mother of beauty.” Without putting his line in context, how might we interpret it? One interpretation could be that men make beautiful things, paintings, music, poems, to sweeten life in the face of its inevitable end, which no man welcomes in the way he will beauty when he encounters it. That would make death the “mother of beauty,” … More →
In 1927—some twenty-three years after the Menshevik Revolution and a decade after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia—Maurice Baring published an anthology of his earlier writings, entitled What I Saw in Russia. Lenin had died in 1924, and Stalin was on the verge of securing his own rule, which was largely consolidated by 1928. Therefore, Baring chose to report on those earlier things he had observed … More →
Saint Augustine famously said cantare amantis est, that is, “singing belongs to one who loves” (s. 336, 1 – PL 38, 1472). (Josef Pieper wrote a book on this, and Robert Hickson gave a talk on it.) Apparently, the Doctor of Grace did not say what is often attributed to him: qui cantat bene bis orat, “he who sings well prays twice.” Since the earliest … More →
This brief essay proposes to consider how two eloquent Catholic authors, Hilaire Belloc and Evelyn Waugh, describe and deal with the phenomenon of noise, an unmistakable mark of the intrusive modern world even in times of putative peace. The first account is from 1925 and deals with a famous city upon the water in northeastern Italy, Venice; and the second account is from 1938, some … More →
If the reader will pardon a little fraternal bragging, my brother, Charles Villiarrubia, played tuba on this CD that was recorded by the Empire Brass some time, I think, in the 1990s. It’s hard not to like Gabrielli. Just imagine hearing his music being played from the antiphonal choirs of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice, where it was written to be performed. And by way … More →
(Rome Reports) In 1936, at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, the Claretian religious community of Barbastro was attacked by militants. An assembly hall became their jail, where they were pressured to renounce their faith. A new film, Un Dios Prohibido, tells their story.
In 1932, four years before his death and only ten years after his having entered the Catholic Church, G.K. Chesterton wrote a vivid and capacious book on the medieval Catholic poet, Geoffrey Chaucer (d.1400). With his characteristic modesty, his book was simply entitled Chaucer. (One year later, Chesterton would also publish his even more profound book on Saint Thomas Aquinas (d.1274), and once more it flowed … More →
Catholics know and love Our Lady of Fatima. We are familiar with the miraculous happenings of 1917 when Our Blessed Lady appeared to the three shepherd children at the Cova da Iria near Fatima, Portugal. We know the promises of Our Lady, we know the prayers that she taught the children, Lucia, Jacinta and little Francisco. We know of the great “Miracle of the Sun” … More →
Robert Hickson’s piece, “The Vitality of Mammon in the Decline of a State,” has been archived on the Culture Wars site: The historic Christian Faith and the historic reality of Christian culture – Christendom – from the outset rebuked with severity, and aptly punished, those who “trafficked in spiritual things.” The hucksters of Simony and Usury were condemned and often shunned, because the things of … More →