Come on, guys!
One of my dreams for the Church is that they would get back into the arts. Help artists! The world needs beauty now more than ever when there is so much despair, and there are so many artists who have given up because of money or because they are discouraged.
Truthfully, growing up as an artist inside the Church has been Hell for me. As an artist you have to be willing to be genuine about your life and your feelings about it. Most of the Churches I have been to are so focused on suffering like Christ that they believe in shutting down feelings, and I become a plague because I won’t do that.
Others are angry if I bring up any topic that has any real substance because I am “bringing evil into the world.” I am not bringing evil into the world if I show real world consequences of despair and how bad things can get. I am not bringing evil into the world if I show the evil that is in the world to people so they can make sense of it in their own lives.
In order to portray truth, sometimes it is necessary to illiustrate negative things. In our Church now, pretty much everything you do is considered sinful.
Can you imagine if Michaelangelo would have tried to paint the Sistine Chapel now? He would have been shunned and denounced, the most intense example of how evil a person can be, for leading people to sin because he painted the human body. Caravaggio might have gotten away with his dark portrayals of sin and death, but only because for some reason Catholics are ok with violence, but no other kind of sin or questionable thing being illustrated.
To be fair, the entire Catholic Church is not this way, there are little pockets of Catholics who understand art and what is has to offer, but the amount of them is tragically small. Instead, Catholics have given up film and television as evil and they allow their kids to watch only the most insipid work out there, and they hide their family away. If Catholics were to truly engage with art, there are so many works out there that ask hard questions, that challenge people and the Church to be better, but most of the Church is so busy hiding behind closed doors “suffering quietly” that they can’t engage, they can’t be a part of the conversation, and they are missing the desperate pleas for something more in a world that seems completely lost.
Maybe that’s the message of Notre Dame burning this week. For a week, the ENTIRE WORLD was focused on a piece of CATHOLIC ART! Where are those days? Are we making anything that is THAT good? THAT substantial? Are we encouraging the people who want to?
I’ll tell you right now that for most of the Church that is a huge, resounding NO.