Sunday, April 25, 2004

Catholic culture
There is a theatre tradition of keeping old posters from past shows and painting memories of past shows on the unseen side walls of the backstage area. That is a tradition kept here at Guymon's community theatre. As I milled around backstage, befriending the cast and crew, I noticed that this theatre's 25 year tradition is peppered with many "nun" shows. The theatre has performed every Nunsense produced, and this Christmas they will do yet another. (Apparently, word on the stage is I may find myself type-cast whenever the theatre needs a priest.) I found myself asking, What's the fascination with nuns in this largely Protestant state?

And then an observation came to me. Please, I do not mean this as a slap at non-Catholics. It occurred to me that if you want to have a depiction of a Christian religion that truly pervades an art medium (theatre, song, painting, etc.) then it will probably be Catholic. Why is that? I guess it is because Catholicism is also about a culture of lived faith. What would it look like to perform a play, for instance, whose setting was Protestant? Other than a few scenes of a Sunday sermon, perhaps a Bible, and maybe even a scene of someone at prayer, you wouldn't have much more that could inform the movement of the characters and the plot. Again, I mean this as no disrespect, however, considering this observation, what culture do our Protestant brothers and sisters have? But with Catholicism, you have a whole tradition to draw from and which to characterize. There are rich ceremonies, family traditions, history, classes of people, and religious communities to depict. And that adds substance to the plot. It gives something stable on which to hang a scene. Just an observation about Catholicism that came to me in an unexpected way. Just another reason I love being a Catholic.

Along this line, I am also trying to think of some famous work of art that is heavily pervaded by a Protestant Christianity. I am drawing a blank right now. I am sure I am missing some obvious example. If truth be told, I am so worn out right now that I'm not really trying to find the counter example to this post. Can you come up with any examples?

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