Re-post from last March.
A bit of an eclectic post today.
My son has a friend in Iowa who plays the video game, League of Legends. From what I understand it is a “battle arena” game populated by mythological warriors. In any event, this friend shared with my son one of the new songs recently released in the game that accompanies the “loading” of a mythic character named Diana, Scorn of the Moon. The song is based on a poetic text called Daylight’s End, sung by classically trained Lisa Thorn. It is an ode to the pagan cult of the Moon, whose mythological tale makes Diana the herald and defender of the Moon cult against the majority cult of the Sun.
It’s a haunting piece, and points to the power of mythology in the human imagination. Its power packs movie theatres and empties bookshelves. I listen to this League of Legends song, and other such works of imagination in pop culture products like video games, movies, TV series and music, and wonder: where are the Catholic artists, writers, directors, developers to infuse this all-pervasive pop culture with a Christ-haunted imagination?
They are out there, emerging, in movements like dappledthings.org. Deo gratias. But largely what I hear from Catholic circles still is the post-Game Awards, post-Grammys, post-Oscars tired lament over the poverty and immorality of pop culture kitsch. Enough lamentation from the sanctuary. Let’s start a kulturkampf in the public square! Pope Francis, give me a word:
More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us, ‘Give them something to eat.’
All the while, God daily calls, gifts and sends young Christian artists and authors out into the world — but who in the church helps them hear and respond? These aesthetic missionaries bear a vocation, in every age, to draw afresh from the limitless wellspring of the human imagination of God, Jesus Christ, and infuse its splendor into culture — pop or elite. Christians have it all: good and evil, sin and redemption, love and hate, towering heroism and catastrophic failure, war and peace, justice and mercy, angels and demons, sinners and saints, all set within a celestial and cosmic drama played out on the borderlands of the infinite as the unchanging God of crazed love becomes what He was not.
Start changing the culture … with re-enchantment: Preach the word of God in the trees and rivers. The graves giving up their dead. The angels swirling around the Throne. Existence itself figuring the Trinity, in how we live and move and have our being. Christ crucified and Christ resurrected. All the rest can follow, if God wants. — Joseph Bottom
In response to Martin Luther’s complaint, “the devil has all the good tunes,” J. R. R. Tolkien retorted, “the devil does not have all the good stories.” Preachers and teachers should be crying out full-throated from pulpit and podium, in churches and schools, to all young men and women who sense within an artistic vocation: strive for excellence and allow yourself to be swept up into the deep mystery of Christ, splashing His beauty all over the canvas of our culture!
Daylight’s End has a strange beauty to it. In my Christian imagination it seems these words could be placed into the mouth of Lucifer in the midst of the Passion, gloating as the light of the Son is extinguished and nightfall begins its ostensible triumph (cf Matt. 27:45). Yet, as the Dragon cants its mock-lament, hidden deep in the night is Christ arising, forever singing into existence a new creation.
I include Daylight’s End, and its poetic text, below.
Ask not the sun why she sets
Why she shrouds her light away
Or why she hides her glowing gaze
When night turns crimson gold to grey
For silent falls the guilty sun
As day to dark does turn
One simple truth she dare not speak:
Her light can only blind and burn
No mercy for the guilty
Bring down their lying sun
Blood so silver black by night
Upon their faces pale white
Cruel moon, bring the end
The dawn will never rise again.