I write, speak, invest, network, and question to stimulate fruitful conversation. Let's talk about human flourishing! It begins with freedom. Holy leisure is the key to human being, freedom and generativity. Please join me in the adventure of realizing Christ!
SAW 16: Art vs Intellect
How ‘intellectual’ are you, and how do you know?
Well, I’m highly ‘intellectual,’ but not so ‘academic,’ or ‘scientific,’ or even so ‘smart.’ I know that I relish the life of the mind, and that I am exercising and applying myself to the use of my mind for enjoyment and contemplation of God. To me, that’s the life of the mind, as taught in A.E. Sertillange’s book, The Intellectual Life, which I’m always recommending.
What is your greatest intellectual weakness (memory, mathematics, history, language, science…use whatever categories make sense to you) and how do you know?
My greatest intellectual weakness is to read for agreement with my own ideas rather than to engage fully with the ideas of others. I know from experience, and from comparing myself to the ‘excellent reader’ mentioned in C.S. Lewis’ An Experiment in Criticism.
What type of learner are you? How do you know?
I learn both visually and verbally. I’ve read about learning styles and see myself described, and also just observed. Aural instruction is hard for me, and I’m not strong in kinesthetic awareness. If I watch you do something, I try to put that visual content into words to ‘lock in’ the understanding. If I read words, I often imagine or sketch visual representations to secure the content with relationships, and visual elements, metaphors, or connections.
What are your credentials?
I don’t have much in the way of formal credentials – a BS in Finance, the ABI certificate, work and consulting and speaking experience. Publications are a form of credential, and also personal recommendations from people who know me testify to my ‘believability’ (credential, credo, credibility).
Describe any creative experience you have had.
Ooohh…my creative experience! Sketching at the zoo, quilting, making stationery, writing poems and songs and stories, doodling, sculpting a head/face, playing with clay, creating new talks and presentations, conveying ideas through Powerpoint and brochures and posters, singing, being a ‘creative philanthropist’ on a small scale,’ creating gifts and letters full of surprises, designing events large and small, writing puppet show scripts, cooking, home-making, decorating and re-arranging. I’ve often been creative on the job, with problem solving, vision planning, and as a teacher.
Have you had any formal training in the arts?
Nope. Well, there was a junior high choir teacher. Art classes were for kids who seemed to have art skills already. Woodshop was off limits to girls. An experienced sculptor helped with the bust I sculpted, teaching our class about facial proportions and such along the way.
How/why are ‘intellectuals’ in danger of compromising their faith, or spiritual lives?
Those who excel at the life of the mind may forget how much they need to be connected to earthy reality – ground, place, nature, mess, real people, food, their own senses, etc… . Mental concepts are so much neater and less discomfiting that one is tempted to escape to a mostly-mental life if one can.
How/why are ‘artists’ in danger of compromising their faith or spiritual lives?
Artists may forget the need for Truth to be integral to the forms they create. They can get over-balanced toward self-expression and interiority, and need more development in intellectual discipline, doctrine, logic.
Describe how your intellectual and artistic development has contributed to, or detracted from your own spiritual growth.
I have so needed the greater intellectual rigor in order to do more than just play with ideas, like toys. The doctrines of the Catholic Faith have made me so secure within Catholicism that I feel free to play and to explore the world within their limits, by their light. Without the deep consolations of art, I don’t know how I could have made it through the most painful parts of my life. Music, in particular, has had a profoundly healing effect. The combination of faith in art – sacred music, and sacred art – found in the Church’s Liturgy has enable a robust synthesis between ‘head and heart’ within my soul.
Describe your imagination.
My imagination feels like a huge playground to me. In my childhood, it was a place of escape and that was not terribly healthy. In my youth, I tried to suppress it more (as it seemed to make me unlike other people, and I didn’t want to be weird). I didn’t find much in life or literature (there was no theology for me at that stage) that corresponded to the activity in my imagination, so I escaped in the opposite direction – into externals, popular music, unhealthy relationships. As a Christian adult, I found myself struggling with impure imaginations. Though I prayed and wanted release, nothing helped eliminate this poison until I became Catholic and ‘had recourse’ to Mary. Praise God for the perfect, immediate deliverance He gave as I prayed for help from the Immaculate Mother filled with grace!
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