Beauty Will Save the World
Recovering the Human in an Ideological Age
Gregory Wolfe
ISI Books, $29.95, 278 pp.

Name a prominent American Catholic in public life whose Catholicism is central to the views he promotes in the public sphere. My guess is that did not take you too long. Now, just as quickly, name a prominent American Catholic artist—you choose the medium—who makes it clear that her faith informs her art. Time’s up. Now, of course, there are such artists, but what does it say about the cultural life of the church that it is easy to think of prominent Catholic politicians and pundits and journalists but it is difficult to think of prominent Catholic painters or sculptors or novelists or musicians? Expanding the circle to other Christians would only help matters a little.

Gregory Wolfe does not pose exactly this question in his fine book Beauty Will Save the World: Recovering the Human in an Ideological Age, but his meditations left me thinking just that. Wolfe has written an engaging account of his own shift from a recent graduate of Hillsdale College and proud member of the Reagan revolution to the founder and editor of the excellent quarterly journal Image, which brings contemporary arts into conversation with Christianity. (Wolfe recounted part of this story in “I Was a Teenage Conservative,” Commonweal, March 9, 2001.) If you agree with Wolfe, as I do, that although “art in itself cannot save a single soul...the imagination helps us to see and...

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About the Author

Scott D. Moringiello is an an assistant professor in the Department of Catholic Studies at DePaul University, where he teaches courses in Catholic theology and religion and literature. He blogs at dotCommonweal.