All posts tagged: religion and the arts

The Light of the Liberal Arts is Different in Light of the Faith

This is the theological continuation of the philosophical beginning in The Resplendent Completion of the Liberal Arts. Catholic Theology and the Beginning In the beginning. Theology begins at a beginning. Well, it begins at more than one beginning, but we will begin with the first. So: in the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth . . .[1] God created everything above and everything below, and created even this beginning. There is a “before” creation, a before the beginning, but there is no word for it—it is not a before, not like a time with an after, not at all, since there is only “after” the beginning—and it is not really known in itself, known as it is only through the beginning. There was no beginning, and then there was. God created ex nihilo, out of nothing.[2] All that is “something”: God created that. To put it another way: there is that which does not begin, does not, and there is that which begins beginnings. This is God. God simply is. God has no …

Religion and the Arts: Augustine’s Netflix

Binge-watching is America’s new pastime. Netflix alone currently boasts 43 million subscribers and counting, who—to adopt a wry turn of phrase from an article in The Economist—are “living the stream.” Netflix­ and its competitors Hulu, Amazon Prime Instant Video, HBO Go, et al have revolutionized how and how much we watch television and film. They have commercialized entertainment ad infinitum: drama, humor, insight, and a good plot line compel our attention as a kind of dramatic watering hole, something we come back to again and again during our given work week. The plot lines of our favorite shows are familiar, quirky, and dependable like a close friend, and online streaming has only expedited this quality time. Each show and movie slowly gives shape to an entire life that we imaginatively inhabit. In a certain poetic sense, it is not a coincidence that the plot diagram itself figuratively (and literally, if you consider the shape) imitates the human pulse. Thus the comfort and autonomic vitality of a continuous stream of plots packaged in episode form: exposition, …

Religion and the Arts: Wheelbarrows, Boots, and the Breath of Life

so much depends upon a red wheel barrow glazed with rain water beside the white chickens –William Carlos Williams, “XXII”[1] Excuse me? “so much” depends upon a red wheelbarrow? What’s so vital in a garden tool? And be clear: what depends upon this red wheelbarrow? Some larger elided narrative? The safety of the white chickens? What a strange poem; indeed, what a strange sentence. Yet, a simple poem, child-like even. And one which contentedly—if not playfully—eludes “explanation.” The wheelbarrow is simply there in space and time: a random and remote yet unrepeatable moment, as thin and ephemeral as the glaze of rainwater, and localized only by a spare preposition—“beside” the white chickens. And still, we wait in suspense, so much of ourselves now dependent upon the enigmatically and charmingly resistant meaning of sixteen words. And yes—we can speculate—the form of the poem bears heavily on the content of the poem, speaks elegantly to our dependence upon language, word by word, to make sense of anything in this world. But again, what a strange poem if …