The Talentless Church

April 3, 2010

From a recent interview with Barbara Nicolosi-Harrington, adjunct professor of cinema at Pepperdine:

Sad though it is, you would never call the Church the patron of the arts today.  Never.  You would be laughed down.  I know that to be true.  I used the phrase with a class of undergrads.  A young woman raised her hand and said, “Who is the ‘patron of the arts’?”  I asked the students who they thought the patron of the arts is.  They looked at me for a while, and finally one kid raised his hand and said, “The Bravo Channel?”

…Hollywood has a value of excellent production value, of talent, and the pagan world absolutely believes in talent, this mysterious gift that comes from they-know-not-where.  We know where it comes from; they don’t know where it comes from, but they believe in it. The Church does not believe in talent anymore.  We think the most important thing is that everyone feels welcome.  So we sit at church and suffer through Doris and Stan, who can’t sing, because we don’t want to be mean.  They would never get a job in Hollywood, because Hollywood has integrity about the beautiful.  Or if it’s not “the Beautiful” in the classical sense, at least, they value the non-lame.

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2 Responses to “The Talentless Church”

  1. mshedden said

    Kevin,
    Again I think you raise an interesting point through this quote but I still wonder what that means for mentally handicapped in our congregations. I think good churches believe in talent but they recognize they won’t know we are Christians by talent and that production values often require us to place children, the poor, those mentally handicapped in the same kind of places those high production values do, hidden or non-existent. We should have a high integrity about the beautiful but I am pretty sure that beautiful has nothing or very little to do with Hollywood. Our beautiful will look more like eucharistic service at L’arche or a talent show with the homeless than it will something Hollywood would recognize as such.

  2. Kevin said

    Very true. I suppose the ideal would be the ability to cultivate both the concerns about talent and inclusivity. The Church can foster standards of excellence, along with exploring the beauty hidden sub contrario.

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