As you may have heard by now, the Catholic News Agency is reporting that “the Pontifical Council for Culture is organizing a meeting of artists (including Ennio Morricone, oh yeah!) from around the world with Pope Benedict XVI on November 21… “The aim of the meeting," Archbishop Ravasi explained, "is to renew friendship and dialogue between the Church and artists, and to encourage new opportunities for collaboration.” If you ask me (not that anyone has), this refocus on the arts is long overdue for a Church which has a statement in it's Catechism which reads, “Arising from talent given by the Creator and from man's own effort, art is a form of practical wisdom, uniting knowledge and skill, to give form to the truth of reality in a language accessible to sight or hearing. To the extent that it is inspired by truth and love of beings, art bears a certain likeness to God's activity in what he has created.”
As a one-time art student, I'm probably a little biased, but I do believe there are times when the arts just do a better job of communicating the nuances of a subject. As an example, let's take the mention of Mary Magdalene's pre-Jesus condition in verses like Mark 16:9 where it says, "When he had risen, early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons." Now I could write one of my wordy ten paragraph essays on the arguments over whether Mary's "possession" represented true demonic influence, a case of schizophrenia, or a little bit of both. But instead, let's take a look at 60 seconds from 2000's The Miracle Maker.
Demonic possession? Mental Illness? Both? Ultimately, that's not the most important thing in the story. In one minute's time, The Miracle Miracle offers up all those arguments, but brings the focus back to what really matters; whatever the source of her affliction, Mary found her refuge and comfort in the healing hands and heart of Jesus. The fact that The Miracle Maker accomplishes this in a very cool looking and emotionally engaging way without the need for any of my overlong verbosity attests to the simple power of the arts. So drag in as many artists as you can, Pope Benedict, I'm behind you all the way. After all, just the thought of letting the composer of The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly and The Untouchables loose on a little chant has me pumped.