What should Catholics think about Pagan culture and art?
#21
(07-22-2014, 02:25 PM)J Michael Wrote:
(07-22-2014, 01:45 PM)Renatus Frater Wrote:
(07-22-2014, 12:29 PM)J Michael Wrote:
(07-22-2014, 10:29 AM)Renatus Frater Wrote: Read the first few books of The City of God.
No offence, but I don't believe anyone here could give a better treatment to this subject than the one S. Augustine gives.  :grin:

I think its possible to appreciate classical civilization, and that's precisely what the Fathers did – they just took the old spolia Aegyptiorum.

As to the gods and their relation to demons, I believe its a fairly old assessment that they were (at least some of them) indeed demons (if I'm not mistaken this is found even in the Apostolic Fathers), and I believe its simply wrong to say that the gods were loving (this is very much just reading 18-19th century deism into the classics).

The pagan "gods" may or may not have been demons.  I'm not qualified to judge that.  But there's a difference between those gods and the statues, paintings, carvings, etc. that are used to *depict* them.  In exactly the same manner, there is a difference between Christ, the Theotokos, etc., etc. and the paintings, statues, carvings, icons, etc. used to depict them.  A pious, devout, serious Christian can admire and appreciate pagan art for what it *is*, without falling into a worship of what it is not.  By the same token, a convinced and serious atheist or pagan can appreciate Christian art for what it is, i.e. art, and remain firm in his atheism or pagan religion.

I agree with what you say here. But in part. There is indeed a difference – an infinite difference, no less – between the images (including all creation, the angels and the saints) where God's beauty and glory shines through and God Himself (even His own beauty and glory in themselves). But isn't the point that the images are precisely that, the place where one finds God's radiance? That's what makes a depiction of the broken body of a slave (“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.”) more beautiful than Venus Rising; or that makes Vladimi's Theotokos more powerful, with her penetrating sorrowful gaze, than any representation of Apollo.
That is, I wouldn't like to separate that firmly form and content. As to atheists appreciating Christian art: I don't think this will last, and in fact I can already see how incapable, if not to appreciate, at least to understand, some are becoming.

But of course, I'm not saying everything in classical paganism is tainted with some perversion, some could say that some of their gods are rather allegorizations of God's gifts, just like the Bible does with lady Wisdom.

Also, I should say I'm a fan of Boethius. So I really don't have that much hostility to the best of classical philosophy.

Yeah...okay.  I guess I should've kept it simple just by stating that there's a huge difference between the "gods",  God, and the representations thereof.  That was the ONLY point I meant to make.  Everything else is, well...just commentary. :)

Sorry, I guess there was a bit of miscommunication.  :)
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#22
(07-22-2014, 03:37 PM)Renatus Frater Wrote:
(07-22-2014, 02:25 PM)J Michael Wrote:
(07-22-2014, 01:45 PM)Renatus Frater Wrote:
(07-22-2014, 12:29 PM)J Michael Wrote:
(07-22-2014, 10:29 AM)Renatus Frater Wrote: Read the first few books of The City of God.
No offence, but I don't believe anyone here could give a better treatment to this subject than the one S. Augustine gives.  :grin:

I think its possible to appreciate classical civilization, and that's precisely what the Fathers did – they just took the old spolia Aegyptiorum.

As to the gods and their relation to demons, I believe its a fairly old assessment that they were (at least some of them) indeed demons (if I'm not mistaken this is found even in the Apostolic Fathers), and I believe its simply wrong to say that the gods were loving (this is very much just reading 18-19th century deism into the classics).

The pagan "gods" may or may not have been demons.  I'm not qualified to judge that.  But there's a difference between those gods and the statues, paintings, carvings, etc. that are used to *depict* them.  In exactly the same manner, there is a difference between Christ, the Theotokos, etc., etc. and the paintings, statues, carvings, icons, etc. used to depict them.  A pious, devout, serious Christian can admire and appreciate pagan art for what it *is*, without falling into a worship of what it is not.  By the same token, a convinced and serious atheist or pagan can appreciate Christian art for what it is, i.e. art, and remain firm in his atheism or pagan religion.

I agree with what you say here. But in part. There is indeed a difference – an infinite difference, no less – between the images (including all creation, the angels and the saints) where God's beauty and glory shines through and God Himself (even His own beauty and glory in themselves). But isn't the point that the images are precisely that, the place where one finds God's radiance? That's what makes a depiction of the broken body of a slave (“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.”) more beautiful than Venus Rising; or that makes Vladimi's Theotokos more powerful, with her penetrating sorrowful gaze, than any representation of Apollo.
That is, I wouldn't like to separate that firmly form and content. As to atheists appreciating Christian art: I don't think this will last, and in fact I can already see how incapable, if not to appreciate, at least to understand, some are becoming.

But of course, I'm not saying everything in classical paganism is tainted with some perversion, some could say that some of their gods are rather allegorizations of God's gifts, just like the Bible does with lady Wisdom.

Also, I should say I'm a fan of Boethius. So I really don't have that much hostility to the best of classical philosophy.

Yeah...okay.  I guess I should've kept it simple just by stating that there's a huge difference between the "gods",  God, and the representations thereof.  That was the ONLY point I meant to make.  Everything else is, well...just commentary. :)

Sorry, I guess there was a bit of miscommunication.  :)

Miscommunication?  On the internet?? [Image: eeek_by_fishbone76.jpg]

:)
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#23
(07-22-2014, 11:04 AM)SaintSebastian Wrote: According to the Haydock commentary it seems the intent is to say that the gods of the Gentiles are vain things or less than nothing compared to God, not that they are all necessarily fallen angels (some may be, some may not be).

I think this is the correct interpretation. The Hebrew word is <'elîlîm>, which means "worthless things, vanities" from a root meaning "to be insufficient or weak," probably short for "worthless gods," and thus "idols" as opposed to a God who can act. The Syriac translation is , which has an identical meaning in this form. The Vulgate is clearly following the Septuagint, but I'm not sure where the reading "δαιμόνια/daemonia" comes from - it's probably an interpretive translation rather than being some variant, lost Hebrew reading. Elsewhere the Septuagint translates this word variously: ειδωλον, χεριοποιητος, βδελυγμα, αγαλμα, ματαιον (which is probably the most formally-equivalent translation).
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