Beauty knows no enemy, says the founder of a campaign that is seeking to evangelize culture through what he calls “the last standing transcendental.”
Jimmy Mitchell, founder of Love Good Music, observes that society today has little respect for truth and goodness, so beauty is the best tool to “rebuild authentic culture.”
Mitchell is working toward this with Love Good Music, which enables patrons to support artists with a Catholic vision of the human person.
ZENIT asked Mitchell to tell us more about his project.
ZENIT: Tell us about your ministry.
Mitchell: Love Good Music is a community of artists and patrons evangelizing culture through beauty. While the music we promote and distribute ranges from the sacred to the secular, it always wrestles with the mysterious intersection of art and faith in modern culture. Practically speaking, Love Good Music is an ongoing campaign and tour of Mysterium Records out of Nashville and has traveled as far west as San Diego, as far north as Boston, and as far south as Tampa, garnering ongoing support from patrons in 32 states across the country. Our hope is to inspire a community of patrons who can support and raise up a generation of artists we can all believe in. Through crowd funding and social media campaigns, it has never been so easy for ordinary folks to patronize the arts through movements like Love Good Music. And it is our sincere hope to rebuild authentic culture and eventually reclaim the soundtrack of American society. (Crowd funding refers to sites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe that help artists (and creative people in general) raise financial support for projects before they release. It’s sort-of like pre-buying a project before it releases and in-so-doing providing the funding before it even exists.)
ZENIT: You speak of evangelizing through beauty and using the arts to promote beauty. The recent MTV awards were perhaps a reminder that that battle is rather lost in today’s world. What is your perspective?
Mitchell: We are living in a day and age that has little respect for the transcendentals of Truth and Goodness. Because of the dictatorial nature of relativism, it is nearly impossible to have a reasonable debate in today’s public square or to speak of moral issues without coming across as an imposition on people’s lifestyles. As a community of artists and patrons, we are convinced more than ever that Beauty is the last standing transcendental. Beauty knows no enemy. By bypassing the intellect and piercing straight to the heart, Beauty has the power to either predispose the soul to virtue or to vice. And Beauty that is true always leads us to the Good. So much of what today’s world celebrates is not real Beauty but a counterfeit, which is why (for example) radio singles never last for more than a few months at a time. If we can mobilize the Church’s faithful to support mainstream artists that keep true Beauty at the center of their art, then we will evangelize culture with a Beauty that endures (versus the counterfeit that never satisfies). True beauty is always a gateway to the divine.
ZENIT: Why has Christianity lost hold of the arts? Is it mostly an issue of money (no more rich lords or popes to fund the great masters)? Or are there other factors?
Mitchell: I think we have lost a sense of the sacred. One can see it in modern church architecture as easily as one can see it in contemporary liturgical music. Rather than allowing art to lift humanity up to the divine, we try to bring the heavens down to earth. Our God is as intimate as He is majestic, as fully human as He is fully divine. However, until we reclaim sacred art and music, we will not be able to lead the charge in renewing secular art and music. Ironically, it has never been so easy for Christians to patronize the arts through crowd funding models like Kickstarter and GoFundMe. Through Love Good Music, we hope to provide an ongoing crowd funding campaign for the new evangelization. With such a campaign comes the opportunity to support artists we can all believe in.
ZENIT: In some fields (I think especially of music, cinema and literature) there is a parallel Christian genre, eg “contemporary Christian” is a whole class of music. Sometimes, however, the quality in these parallel genres does not compare to mainstream. What is the solution?
Mitchell: The solution is to completely do away with the idea of Christian music, films, and literature. Frankly, these genres are rarely any better than their mainstream counterparts. Using them as “tools for evangelization” often strips them of their power to evangelize. Most would agree that The Lord of the Rings was one of the greatest works of literature of the 20th century. That being said, Tolkien often described the trilogy as a “Catholic epic”. As another example, I was a huge fan of CCM in high school and early college because “Christian music” provided a well-produced alternative to the generally immoral top 40 radio hits. However, it is rare for me to listen to it anymore. The name of Jesus preached through music is not enough to make that music beautiful. It’s about the soul behind songs and the sacramental vision that inspires them. In my thinking (and in our approach as a community of artists), subtlety is everything. To conclude, the solution is to support artists who are as talented as they are faithful in writing, recording, and performing good music across genres imbued with a Catholic understanding of the human person.
ZENIT: As this Year of Faith almost comes to a close, what do you see as the link between faith and the arts?
Mitchell: Given that faith is the belief in that which we cannot see, few things are more powerful than beautiful art to articulate the unspeakable and reveal the unseen. The Year of Faith has been an amazing opportunity to encounter the Risen Lord in our lives and our hearts. As projects and events have unfolded for us over the last year, I realize that the virtue of faith has allowed our artists to avoid become celebrated idols in the world and helped them to be icons pointing to the World beyond.
For more information and to become a patron, visit LoveGoodMusic.com.