“Epiphanies of beauty”

In 07 Observations on 2013/07/12 at 12:00 AM

Holy Wood Acting Studio holds its Grand opening Event on March 25, 2011 and an extensive course begins on March 28, 2011

We need Christians to respond to the call of Christ the Divine Artist and take their place in creating new “epiphanies’ of beauty”; people who can help others to do the same by pursuing the vocation of the arts. I am thrilled to report on a new venture which is taking this task to heart by training future actors. The leaders of this effort, rather than retreat from Hollywood, have set up a new studio right in its heart. It is called Holy Wood Acting Studio.

A class discussion at Holy Wood Acting Studio

A class discussion at Holy Wood Acting Studio

LOS ANGELES, CA. (Catholic Online) – The relationship between the theatre and the Christian mission has been a bumpy road. Some of the early fathers, like St. John Chrysostom in his homilies on St Matthew and Tertullian in his admonitions against the shows, deterred the Christians from attending. This was because the theatre of the time extolled destructive behavior and denigrated the human person.  This does not mean that the theatre, or any art form, was rejected by the Church. In fact, history is filled with the Christian contribution to all of the Arts.

In the First Christian Millennium, the environment into which the nascent Christian Church was sent revealed an expression of theatre which had devolved to a sad low because human culture had become debased. No longer recognizing the beauty of creation and the dignity of the human person the culture reveled in sexual debauchery. It was because of this that early Christian leaders discouraged participation in the theatre. Unfortunately, hostility between Christians and the theatre continued into the third and fourth centuries and much theatrical presentation mocked the Christian rites and the Christian message.

The Christian faith proclaims that in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ the transformation of the entirety of all human experience and the created order has already begun. The early Christian community knew the goodness of life affirming theatre and artistic expression. The early Fathers understood the capacity of the Gospel to humanize men and women – and through them replace debased “art” with true beauty. The fullness of liturgical expression and the works of art produced by the early Christians demonstrate this fact. So, the Christians did what Christians are called to do, they transformed the culture from within and the arts flourished.

As for the Second Christian millennium, the first half of the Millennium witnessed a mature flowering of a Christian worldview with developments in art and Christian participation. However, in the aftermath of the so-called “Enlightenment” and the reactions to its aftereffects in some segments of the Protestant reformation, another season of suspicion arose concerning Christian participation in the arts. The theatre was again seen as suspect and discouraged in some Christian circles. It was considered “corrupt” and either abandoned or minimized as to its importance.  A sad and limited view of both man and the world created for him by God the Divine Artist followed.

As we began the Third Millennium, a Playwright, Actor and Artist occupied the Chair of Peter. In his 1999  “Letter to Artists” the venerable John Paul set forth an ambitious call for the participation of artists in the renewal of humanity through the flourishing of a new Christian humanism. With prophetic clarity he wrote of the “artistic vocation” as one who carried it in his own heart and incarnated it in his numerous plays and other writings.

Recognizing this between art and Christian mission he reminded us that Christianity is a true humanism, revealing the fullness of the human person re-created in the Lord who became like us so that we could become like Him. However, the Pope wrote that  “. in the modern era, alongside this Christian humanism which has continued to produce important works of culture and art, another kind of humanism, marked by the absence of God and often by opposition to God, has gradually asserted itself. Such an atmosphere has sometimes led to a separation of the world of art and the world of faith.”

That separation between the arts and a living faith has no place in a mature Christian worldview. It proceeds from a poor anthropology, a misunderstanding of the nature of man/woman. It represents an inadequate understanding of the scope and implications of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. Finally, it promotes a theology of the Church and her mission that views “the world” as a hostile environment from which the Christian and the Church must recoil rather than a palate worthy of loving transformation by those who carry on the redemptive mission of Christ the Divine Artist.

Creation and Redemption are the grand masterpiece of God, the Divine Artist. He created the world out of love – as a manifestation of His Beauty. It is important in our time to reflect on what this relationship can become as we face an imploding Western culture. There is a connection between beauty and the arts and the Christian vocation to manifest the presence of the living God in this world which He still loves.

To be fully Christian is to be fully human. In this “Letter to Artists” the Venerable John Paul II wrote of “epiphanies of beauty” and called the artist the “Image of God the Creator”. He began this …


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