2014 | 3(29) | 257-260
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Jan Paweł II wobec wartości kultury

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John Paul II position toward the values of culture
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Karol Wojtyła was not the first pope to direct a message to the people of art. John Paul II also was not the first pope of modern times to write poems. We will not fall into error by saying that as the first contemporary pope he was an artist and that he remained one also as the head of the Holy See. It is a known fact that he performed as an actor on the stage in theatrical school productions and that he was an actor of Mieczysław Kolarczyk’s underground Rhapsodic Theatre in Kraków during the Nazi occupation. He never ceased to be a poet. He wrote poems and dramatic works during his years as a student, seminarian and priest, as a bishop and cardinal. In his Letter to the artists John Paul II addresses the artists as a peer addressing his peers by setting art on a pedestal and by comparing the toil of the artist to the work of God himself. The pope calls the people of art to dialogue by reminding them that the most important works of art were inspired by religion. One can hardly overlook the fact that this postulate is contrary to the trends of contemporary culture. The sphere of sacrum is frequently in a state of withdrawal. Every artist, especially if he is a writer, knows that evil is frequently more spectacular than good. Dante’s Inferno is more interesting than the Paradiso. It is Satan who is the protagonist of Milton’s Paradise Lost. However, in the works of the past, evil and ugliness were supposed to be in contrast with goodness and beauty and they were used to demonstrate God’s presence. Whereas in modern art, the void caused by the decline of its transcendent dimension is programmatically filled with such values that are marked with the sign of negation. The dawn of beauty and goodness is no longer to be seen on the horizon. It is the absence of the personal God that is particularly felt – of God who is the maker and measure of both values. When we apply the statement about beauty which is the shape of love to these works we notice that there is neither beauty nor love in them. There is neither compassion toward another human being in these works as well. What is even worse, there is even no form in these works. In this sense not only the Letter to the artists, but also John Paul II’s entire body of teaching is a firm expression of opposition toward that which is happening with modern culture.
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