Saturday, October 27, 2012

Rescuing Culture

Flannery O'Connor

From Thomas M. Doran, writing for The Catholic World Report:
A sizeable percentage of committed Catholics have given up on the arts: literature, poetry, visual art, music, and film, at least art that is produced in the public arena. Other Catholics have built a wall between their beliefs and the entertainment they seek from fiction, films, and music, dividing their faith and their recreational reading, viewing, and listening. 
The problem with these attitudes is that modern society, in large part, is formed by the arts, and the steady stream of art that disparages and ridicules Catholic beliefs, with few countervailing influences, is producing a dogmatically nihilistic, self-indulgent society. For over a century, art has been judged through the lens of a kind of aesthetic nihilism, which asserts that there is nothing transcendent, nothing that is objectively True, Beautiful, or Good; everything is ephemeral, subjective, and, ultimately, annihilated by the forces of nature. Thus, art containing a transcendent perspective, no matter how inspired or depicted, is un-serious by definition. Sadly, this lens has coarsened culture rather than elevating it, just subjective opinions to an art elite that prides itself on superior intellect and discrimination. That isn’t to say that all public art is bereft of value, but who can deny that the dark thread of nihilism and materialism has infected much of it? Whose High Art today actually probes, inspires, stirs, and awakens?

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