Performing Beauty: Liturgy, Theology, and Aesthetics

Greg Miller
3 min readJan 29, 2021

Unit 1: Philosophical Foundations

I have always enjoyed various forms of art. I’ve never really stopped to think about how art is created. I imagined that at the inception of the artistic vision there was some form of inspiration. I expected artistic inspiration was combined with varied amounts of creativity, physical, and spatial skills. Some of the most skilled art, (e.g., portraits of people) I did not particularly enjoy. Yet, I still judged this type of skilled art to be “excellent”, primarily as a result of the form and perfection. When I consider art that I personally find to be beautiful, it is generally because I am drawn to some aspect, even though I can’t really explain why.

After reading the book Art and Scholasticism, by Jacques Maritain, I feel I have a better grasp as to why I personally have feelings towards certain types of art. I have also gained an understanding of the origin of an artist’s creativity and desire to create art. I will connect the dots by describing a very simple piece of art I created, and my newfound understanding of its importance.

First, I do not consider myself to be an artist in any way. My only brush with formal training was attending a drawing seminar at Disneyland in Paris. The entire session lasted about 15 minutes, and at the end of the session I was able to draw a barely recognizable version of Donald Duck. About five years after that session I was sitting with my girlfriend, Catie, (now my wife of 12 years) watching a movie in our basement. Catie fell asleep, and for some reason I decided to sketch a life size version of the Disney characters Chip and Dale. It took me about four hours to complete the outline. Catie woke up as I was finishing, and she was amazed. She asked why I didn’t tell her that I could draw characters so well. I responded that it was because I didn’t know I could!

Today, Catie and I have two daughters; Samantha is 10 years old, and Reagan 9. They look very much like Chip and Dale when they are together. They have the same big smile and endless energy, and they are always having fun, typically in a mischievous manner. They absolutely love the Chip and Dale drawing. I have suggested many times to paint over the drawing, but they refuse. What I realize from the Maritain reading is what they see and love in the drawing isn’t a simple imitation rendering of Chip and Dale. They too see themselves, and are able to connect with what I was trying to create, and even perhaps foretell through my heart’s desire.

The place that the Chip and Dale art came from was born of my love for Catie. Each day when I look at the girls I see a version of Catie. As I have grown to love them more each year, my love for Catie also grows exponentially. That love and desire manifested itself in my practical intellect to direct me to create the drawing. The simplicity of the drawing, and the fact that it is of a couple of Disney characters is irrelevant.

I believe that what is visible from the drawing is my love for my wife, and the children we would conceive. Our girls, Samantha and Reagan also see the beauty in the drawing. Maritain (1920) states “If a thing exalts and delights the soul by the bare fact of its being given to the intuition of the soul, it is good to apprehend, it is beautiful” (page 24). Amen.