Ben, Matt









Possibly the best episode of the podcast

A theology of aesthetics, art, beauty.

More than just, "don't watch movies with bad words".


  • Necessary discussion for Roman Catholics and Protestants
  • Work in progress

Definition of art/aesthetics: visceral communication of truth and ideas

Aims at the emotions more than the intellectual.

Fiction is different than non-fiction.

Different levels of art:

  • Sacred/liturgical
  • Societal
  • Pyschological - what it means to be human
  • Personal - personal expression

Art is a primary way humans communicate truth.

№ 285 The Bible as Art

Art doesn't develop ideas, it's an outworking of existing ideas. For example, we didn't use art to develop the doctrine of the Trinity, but after the Church formed the doctrine, it affected art.

Art doesn't argue doctrine, it articulates doctrine.

4 Tenets of a Christian Theology of Aesthetics

1. Art is primarily (not but not exclusively) contemplative

Art doesn't work when it's didactic.

Art is not a distraction so you can teach a lesson.

Art communicates truth, it doesn't illustrate truth.

Art should be come from contemplation, not study.

2. Art helps us process and accept suffering in order to stave off hell

Enjoyment is just one of many visceral feelings to experience in art.

Suffering is not evil. Suffering is a necessary, important, and desirable part of life.

Evil is non-existence (Aquinas). God is not a being, he is Being. Since God is existence, evil is non-existence. Sin is uncreation. Men can choose to be sub-creators or un-creators.

Suffering is how we defeat evil. Jordan Peterson: Christ is the archetypical Western man who defeats suffering through evil. Hell is a bottomless pit because you can always make a bad situation worse.

Avoiding suffering leads to greater evil, which leads to more suffering.

Art helps us understand evil and its consequences in a way that's manageable.

Peterson: life is inherently meaningful, which means every decision matters.

Being a parent is suffering. The film Bicycle Thieves.

Matt asks: does Jesus go on the hero's journey? Yes.

Is America a Christian nation? No doctrinally, but yes archetypically.

Suffering leads to great art: Dante, Tolkien. Sometimes it is empathy for suffering, like Dickens.

3. Art teaches us order and helps us prepare for the Edenic state

Art shows us a reality past suffering.

Sacred art exists to show us where heaven meets earth.

Church architecture matters. Pope Benedict: the church building is a picture of the meeting between heaven and earth.

The church is the people and the building.

Art is not subjective: it points us to objective Truth.

Bad art does not show us the Transcendent, so the artist must be competent.

4. Art helps us carry out our human and Christian duty to preserve and bear witness to human experience

In the modern West, we have a moral obligation to bear witness to the Holocaust.

Call to Action

1. Entertainment should not be the primary goal of art.

We should stop "redeeming" art by slapping a message on top of entertainment. Instead, create real art.

2. Sacred art should be contemplative instead of didactive.

Until we figure it out, we should stop making Christian art.

Great art reveals itself over time as we contemplate it.

Be okay with not "getting" art.

The greatest art reveals more of itself in every viewing.

3. Our duty today is more to preserve than to create.

We preserve Western culture not because it is a superior culture, but because it is ours.

Academia is a bubble about to burst.