139—Response to Fr. Gregory Pine: Movies, Music & Contemplation
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In a recent video on the Pints with Aquinas channel, Gregory Pine, O.P. voiced his concern that mass entertainment, particularly music and movies, is often an obstacle to achieving the heavenly end of contemplation for which we are made. What is noteworthy is that unlike the typical Catholic commentary on pop culture, Fr. Pine does not focus so much on the moral content of music and movies as how their very form affects us bodily, psychologically and spiritually.
In this discussion inspired by Fr. Pine’s points, host Thomas Mirus and filmmaker Nathan Douglas specify some elements of music and film which are obstacles to the contemplative life, but also suggest how, rather than simply eschewing music and movies, we can engage with better art in a deeper way which serves the contemplative end of man.
6:31 Fr. Pine video recap
11:08 Risks of treating media as “junk food” rather than demanding better media
14:44 Cultivating openness to more artistic films
17:31 Discursive reasoning is not the highest mode of contemplation
20:26 Music is the most simply contemplative art form
22:58 The relation of film to reality
25:13 Advertising and glossiness in modern cinema
29:38 Problem with putting Catholic content into Hollywood forms
31:28 A film’s editing rhythm can hinder contemplation
38:24 Learning intuitively to tell hackwork from good craft
42:15 Rhythmic excitement doesn’t equal mediocrity
46:23 Conclusion of film discussion
48:02 Applying Augustine’s theory of evil as privation to art
49:34 The necessity of both lower and higher forms of music
55:46 In what sense should Catholics “engage with pop culture”?
59:33 Pop music dominated by computers, focused on lyrics, lack of melody
1:07:53 The personal element in art
1:12:08 Music, the senses, and contemplation beyond words
1:18:22 Music’s stimulation of the body
1:22:45 Using music to indulge emotions
1:27:09 Can music be “immoral”?
1:32:06 Mistaking slow for good in film
1:34:11 Educating the faithful for artistic depth
1:43:50 Can sense images serve the spiritual life?
1:49:18 What music communicates about reality
1:56:20 There’s no formula for beauty
2:01:08 Simple receptivity to God’s beauty
2:03:54 Recommended resources
Fr. Gregory Pine, “I stopped listening to music.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVh4rHubNOc
Elizabeth-Paule Labat, The Song That I Am: On the Mystery of Music https://litpress.org/Products/MW040P/The-Song-That-I-Am
Etienne Gilson, The Arts of the Beautiful https://www.amazon.com/Arts-Beautiful-Scholarly-Etienne-Gilson/dp/1564782506
Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast https://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/category/criteria
CCP #126: How Charlie Parker’s Music Changed My Life https://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/126-how-charlie-parker-changed-my-life
CCP #28: An Introduction to Maritain’s Poetic Philosophy w/ Samuel Hazo https://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/episode-28-introduction-to-maritains-poetic-philosophy-samuel-hazo
Nathan Douglas, The Vocation of Cinema https://vocationofcinema.substack.com
Fr. Pine’s lecture on literature referenced by Nathan https://soundcloud.com/thomisticinstitute/literature-as-philosophy-fr-gregory-pine-op
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Theme music: “Franciscan Eyes”, written and performed by Thomas Mirus. Download the Catholic Culture Podcast soundtrack.
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