I worked in ministry, but couldn’t coax myself to join any Catholic young adult communities. I didn’t want to have to hide the fact that I did yoga in the mornings or listened to NPR. Deep down, I honestly had lost my dream for the utopic Catholic community I saw at that Steubenville conference. I kept my distance, instead making friends in the Dallas start-up circles. That is, until I found Edmund Mitchell’s Facebook profile.
Let's face it. The Church is no longer the great Patroness of the Arts. She doesn't have the same reach and scope she once did at the time of the Renaissance. Yet the world's need for her influence has not lessened over the centuries; if anything, the desire for tangible beauty is greatest now in facing the wave of nominalism coursing through millennial culture. To answer this desperation, the Church needs to blaze new trails for the gospel to pass into the hearts and minds of this new generation.
This is why the Church needs new DaVincis, Mozarts, Michelangelos, and Beethovens. This is why it needs aesthetically and philosophically articulate creative leaders, artists, and risk-takers: to recast the gospel message as surprising, attractive, beautiful, sublime, and, above all, relevant. The time is ripe for a New Renaissance, a counter-wave of beauty (as an antithesis to nominalism) that can place the gospel back in the center of a cultural dialogue.
But unfortunately, there are few places within the Church where creatives feel a sense of belonging. For the Catholic creative, the secular artistic community cannot wholly be home; there we are often quietly or not-so-quietly chastised for our archaic religious leanings. And yet, in the church they love, Catholic creatives find themselves again displaced as they recognize the Church’s lack of emphasis on innovation and cultural relevance. Furthermore, the Church’s culture, at least in America, hesitates to embrace the weird, the edgy, the rebellious, or the skeptic, all of which are traits that creatives especially manifest. A blue-haired, inked-up graphic designer feels far less a freak at a sketchy concert venue than walking around a Newman Center. Classics majors, steeped in traditions of philosophy and art, find themselves out of place at parishes where mediocre 70s folk and saccharine preaching are standard.
Community is essential for creatives. Community is essential for Catholics. Community is essential for human beings. Thus the Catholic Creatives movement was very reasonably formed to assemble all those who affiliate with that trio of demographics. We want to create an open place to collaborate with other individuals like ourselves who pursue the very important work of being creative within, for, or adjacent to the Church.
That is why this movement was sparked, and why creatives from all over the world are gathering in Dallas, March 23rd–26th, to talk about creating a New Renaissance in creativity and culture. For more information, visit www.ccsummit.xyz.
Finally, consider the following:
There is a group that posts the same picture of Jeff Goldblum every day. (It’s called The Same Picture of Jeff Goldblum Every Day because of course it is, this is the internet.) There are Facebook groups for the cute-animal-obsessed, for tracking current events, for lifestyle and health support, for science enthusiasts, and many many many for meme aficionados. Point being, our generation has looked to the digital space more and more to connect with the like minded peers around the world. Our definitions and approach to community have evolved with the dawn of a well-connected global society.
So Catholic Creatives has an online community. We have a Facebook group and a Slack channel and an email newsletter and a blog. We have in-person meetups where we brainstorm solutions to issues in the Church. We have a annual summit where we can come together for real human conversations. But all of these are a part of a greater movement taking place in the Church towards a new culture of art, innovation, and creativity. And that's somewhere we can all belong.