Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Kanye West, Jordan Peterson, and the Allure of Catholicism

From Aleteia:
Consider Peterson’s video, the one Kanye was apparently watching. Peterson opens by talking about a painting of the Assumption of Mary at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. He goes on to talk about art being “sacred,” a “window into the transcendent,” and part of “the covenant with God”; about the “magnificent and beautiful” art of Europe over 2,000 years; about the balance between light and structure in the Gothic cathedrals; about the Catholic Basilica of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona; and about beauty being a “pathway towards God,” an “invitation to the divine,” and a stumbling toward “the kingdom of God.” If all that weren’t enough, the video itself is extracted from the Abraham portion of Peterson’s lecture series on the Bible.

This is a veritable feast of Catholic language. It’s especially recognizable if you follow the work of Bishop Barron, who has consistently talked about the importance of the beautiful as a gateway into the divine. (Peterson even rails against those who prefer “beige” to the vibrant colors of art, a clear echo of the Bishop’s lament over “beige Catholicism.”) So it’s no surprise that people have asked if Peterson could become a Catholic, or that Bishop Barron has spoken favorably of the Jordan Peterson phenomenon, or that his commentary caught Peterson’s attention.

What’s surprising, though, is that Peterson’s “Catholic connection” is opening many people up to Catholicism who might not otherwise have looked twice at it. One YouTuber commented: “Peterson is the reason I became a Christian. And then a Catholic.” “Peterson to Father Mike Schmitz to Bishop Barron,” another wrote. “That was my path from 20 years agnosticism to becoming a Catholic.” What’s even more surprising is that somehow, some way, Kanye West finds himself in the middle of this whole conversation. As someone pointed out, even his recent interview with Charlamagne could be seen as a kind of reaching out for Catholic ideas. (Read more.)

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