Does the Church really "get" beauty?
  • rich_enough
    Posts: 763
    I haven't seen much discussion in the obvious places about this interview with Barbara Nicolosi, a Catholic screenwriter in Hollywood and founder of Act One, which trains Christians for work in (big bad) Hollywood.

    She argues that Hollywood, for all its sins, "gets" beauty and talent - it understands their power and knows how to use them effectively - while the Church doesn't (at least not anymore). It really made me think of the prevailing situation in church music today and what might be done about it.

    "The Church does not believe in talent anymore. We think the most important thing is that everyone feels welcome. So we sit at church and suffer through Doris and Stan, who can't sing, because we don't want to be mean. They would never get a job in Hollywood, because Hollywood has integrity about the beautiful. Or if it's not "the Beautiful" in the classical sense, at least, they value the non-lame.

    "So when you speak of a tension of values, well, there is the value of the Beautiful, which Hollywood understands and the Church does not, and then there are the values specifically of what is good for human beings. What is it that leads them to their fulfillment, their ultimate destiny, fulfilling their nature? Those things are missing, content-wise, in what you're seeing in a lot of the media.

    "But in the end, which is more harmful: true words cast in an ugly frame, or untrue words cast in a beautiful frame? I think Hollywood will get people into heaven faster. Even if they have the message wrong, people in the end will turn off some of that. What will really impact them will be the harmony, the wholeness, the completeness of a work."

    Read the whole thing at:

    Sam Schmitt
  • Sam, thanks for posting this. I can't say that after reading the whole thing what I really think about it. But it is very clear that there is something to learn from her writing. Many of us are harnessed to work, knowing that what we are doing - four hymns, poor music for the ordinary, using pulp-hymnals, harnessed to a very flawed example of what the Novus Ordo Mass can and should be. And the people in charge want it that way.

    We are tied to mediocrity by people with no vision of the possible beauty. Those who get a glimpse of it are slapped down by their pastors (speaking of young priests) and their Bishops.

    Hollywood seriously considers the box office receipts. The Church worries about keeping the people in the pews coming and giving rather than building liturgy to become something different than the mediocrity, a liturgy that draws people to it because they want to be there. That translates into box office receipts.
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 986
    Thanks, Sam.

    I've followed Barbara Nicolosi for years and always find her a bracing gust of fresh air. And a good call back to work when I'm about to decide that all is lost and I'd get more done reading a good mystery than wasting my time on music.

    We owe God the very best - the best we can do as individuals and the best we can do to raise other people's ambitions to beauty and excellence.

    Here's a live link for those of you who hate to copy and paste: Interview with Barbara Nicolosi

    Mary Jane
  • Mark M.Mark M.
    Posts: 632
    Fantastic article… thanks for sharing. I think I'll bookmark her blog.
  • rich_enough
    Posts: 763
    Thanks, Mary Jane. Haven't figured out the html coding yet . . . .

    Sam Schmitt