Kanye West’s Jesus is King album is the centerpiece of his “Sunday Service,” a Gospel choir performance of his discography held in churches and concert venues on a weekly basis. The mix of pop culture entertainment and religious exuberance is a self-conscious expression of the entertainment complex writ large, a cultural liturgy led by a self-styled prophet that also generates a profit.
As a kid, I would wake up early before school. Because my Mom and Dad were getting ready, they were always looking for ways to occupy me so I didn’t get in their way. Many days, my Mom would lead me downstairs, my eyes and brain somewhere between being asleep and being awake. I would lie on the scratchy green couch in our living room as I watched Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood on the local PBS station.
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger once reported that “the only really effective apologia for Christianity comes down to two arguments, namely the saints the Church has produced and the art which has grown in her womb.” In this month marked by the feast of All Saints, I wish to take up examples of the truth of Ratzinger’s statement, one from the literary arts and one from the visual arts, both related to the saints.
The Church designates July 26 as a relatively quiet “memorial” of Saints Joachim and Anne, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary. For me, however, there are few days in the liturgical calendar that evoke more energetic memories of a geographical community and parish family than this one. This is a feast of visceral evangelization that immerses all five senses and brings people together—close together.