Art of the Beautiful – Beauty, Culture, and the New Evangelization

February 26, 2015

The final installment of this year’s Art of the Beautiful series, co-sponsored by the Thomistic Institute and the Catholic Artist’s Society, will take placeSaturday, March 14, at 7:30 at the Catholic Center at NYU in New York City. The Most Reverend James D. Conley, Bishop of the Diocese of Lincoln, NE, will present “Beauty, Culture, and the New Evangelization.”

Bishop Conley entered the Catholic Church during his junior year in college, while studying in the University of Kansas’ Integrated Humanities Program, a well-known classical great books curriculum co-founded by Professor John Senior. The Bishop has written about the effect of the program on himself and his fellow students:

 “The experience of beauty changed us. When we studied the great philosophers and theologians, we were open to their words. We no longer assumed that truth was found in the dictates of popular culture—just as we no longer saw modern fads and fashions as the pinnacle of beauty . . . . A large number of students became Catholic through the Integrated Humanities Program. But this was not the result of proselytism in the classroom nor was it engaging in apologetics. It occurred because we became lovers of beauty, and, thus, seekers of truth. Beauty gave us “eyes to see” and “ears to hear,” when we encountered the Gospel and the Christian tradition” (Crisis Magazine).

Beauty, the Bishop continues, seems to go where nothing else can:

“I know, from experience, that beauty can reach people who seem unreachable. It can open their minds to truths they might otherwise dismiss. Even hardened skeptics and postmodernists find it hard to deny the reality of beauty, when they encounter it in a setting conducive to contemplation and reflection.”

Bishop Conley holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Kansas, a master’s degree in divinity from Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD, and a licentiate in moral theology from the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome.

The lecture will be followed by Q&A and a reception. The event will finish with sung Compline (the Church’s night prayer) in the chapel at the Catholic Center.

Image: Jean II Restout, Pentecost.