"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty - Weigel on the Sistine Chapel

George Weigel is interviewed today on Hugh Hewitt regarding the papal conclave.   Read the whole thing, but this answer jumped out at me:

HH: I want to walk through those specific elements [of what to look for in a new Pope], but first, I want to get your impressions of today. When the oaths were sworn, and the doors were closed, and the first vote inconclusive, but expected to be, was taken. How are you assessing what’s going on, George Weigel?

GW: Well, I think it was a great day to experience beauty as a window into the Catholic proposal. That magnificent Pauline chapel where the conclave process began, the procession from the Pauline Chapel to the Sistine Chapel, which through the great Scala Regia of the Apostolic Palace, which is full of magnificent frescos. And then you get into the Sistine Chapel, which is arguably the most extraordinary room in the world. And you’ve got these men living inside the entire Biblical narrative. I mean, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel has the creation of the cosmos, the creation of Adam and Eve, and that unbelievable back wall, which forms a kind of backdrop to this whole election process, is the great Michelangelo fresco of the Last Judgment. So you’ve got beginning, middle and end. And I think that created a sense that this is not like popping into your local precinct and casting your ballot on the second Tuesday of November. There’s something distinctive and different going on here, and I thought that was very moving. And the sheer magnificence of the surroundings lifts up a theme I raise in the book, namely that for postmoderns who are skeptical that anything is true, or are skeptical that we can describe properly anything as good, beauty can be a way to open up a new conversation about the true and the good.

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