By Gary Potter
Theme: Toward an Integral Catholic Culture: Variations on a Theme of Father Feeney
Title: Getting Culture
By way of contrasting the ubiquitous manifestations of the death of culture (à la the world's quasi idolatrous tribute to the "genius" of Michael Jackson and sundry other morbid, deafening, chaotic, and deadly forms of artistic expression) with examples of the best productions of culture, not only Catholic, but of other civilizations, Mr. Potter conducted his attuned audience into an inspiring journey around the world of true beauty, as man, in imitation of his Creator, has produced and expressed it in its varied forms. From great music, as in the works of Mozart and Bach, many of which were Musica Missae, to the glorious Gothic cathedrals that give the Mass a beautiful sacred place to be offered, our speaker covered all the aspects that explain what is behind great works of art, rather than merely lauding the talent of the producers. Ironically, one of the most important points that Mr. Potter raised was the artistic value of silence. Without silence, he stressed, one cannot take in the contemplative experience that beauty presents for the eye and the ear. As an example he devoted some time raving about a filmed documentary called Into Great Silence that recorded the world of labor and prayer within a German Carthusian monastery. There was no dialogue in the documentary, no interviews with the monks, just a film capturing the contemplative life of silence. The only sounds were what creation provided in the pitter-patter of the rain on the tiled roof, the crackling of burning logs, the winds sweeping through the window panes, or the sounds of the creatures of the dark that lent themselves as a backdrop to the hooded figure of a man of God taking in a starry sky as he prayed silently in a field. As he always does, Gary peppered his animated talk with memorable anecdotes, all of which added to a cultivating experience. By the end of this presentation the audience certainly got what culture is all about.
2009 SBC Conference
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