For years I have enjoyed the writing of Barbara Nicolosi and appreciated her efforts at training Christians to be better artists in the making of Hollywood movies.
What has happened in the Church is that we have sacrificed the search for “new epiphanies of beauty” in the words of Bl. John Paul II, to egalitarianism, cheapness and politics. We don’t care anymore if a hymn is lovely and haunting, we just need it to be singable by the assembly without any musical training or practice. This means we have had to dumb down our music to the level of pre-school ditties. Our movies and television are not flowing out of the mysterious impulse to create and connect, which is the hallmark of art, but rather out of the desire to preach and distract. Secondly, in productions created by Christians for Christians, there is nothing so unappreciated – and I would argue, resented – as God-given talent. In the Church today, the emphasis on talent seems to people to be elitist, as if God has very bad form in giving one person the ability to do something that another can not. How dare God be so unequal in His favors?!
Ideally, a movie made by Christians should be a marriage of beauty plus one of our defining themes as a subtext. That is, first and foremost a movie made by believers ought to have all its parts present and executed with excellence, and then its meaning should reflect something that only we Christians can say with unique authority. So, some of our defining themes are, “Good and evil are not equal,” and “Joy and sorrow have a necessary and ironic juxtaposition,” and “Death is not the worst thing that can happen to a person,” and “Everything we see is a sign of something we cannot see.” A sign that a movie is really, profoundly Christian, is that it will carry tremendous meaning for non-Christians. Of course, we never see this kind of project from Christian filmmakers today. Not yet any way.
In so far as talented pagan film makers are pursuing wholeness, harmony and radiance in their work – which are the elements of the beautiful – they will be producing stories that far outshine the efforts of Christians who are basically making propaganda and cheap resistance literature for the faithful. Secondly, pagans respect things like artistic principles. They tend to invest seriously in cultural endeavors, and they honor talent and training. In the Church, all that is necessary to get a job as a singer is to own a guitar and have a good heart. It is really very perverse. I think of the loss of the sense of the beautiful as one of the great heresies in the Church in the modern age. It has been devastating particularly because it undermines all of our efforts at evangelization. What good does it do to tell people that the Holy Spirit is Wisdom and Power in a hymn or movie that is lame and pedestrian?