One of the things I have to thank my parents for is the amount of fine arts and culture they gave us as we were growing up.  I couldn't wait until I was old enough to go to the Carmel Symphony Orchestra concerts with my parents, and although I occasionally fell asleep in the slow movements, it is to the beautiful performances I was exposed to as a child that fostered my love and appreciation of music.  Even more than music, though, I was given the opportunity to attend plays, from Helen Keller to Shakespeare, at the Indiana Repertory Theatre, Butler University, and University of Indianapolis, as well as other colleges and high schools around Indianapolis.  Ballets, too, were included - Butler University for the Nutcracker and Swan Lake.  My most favorite birthday present ever was a trip to the Murat for a performance of The Lord of the Dance when I turned 12!  And lest I forget, we also made trips to visit exhibits of ancient art, Egyptian, Roman, Greek, medieval, and many field trips to the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

The fact that my parents made the fine arts a major part of my development is, I believe, because they understand and appreciate what exposure to arts and culture means.  Art is, or should be, beauty, and beauty is always truth.  Through beauty, we can be opened to a world beyond our own knowledge, a world closer to God.  As humans, we use our senses to know; this doesn't just mean touching something to know it is hot, or just intellectual knowledge from reading words, touching an object, or listening to conversation.  This also means gathering knowledge through seeing beautiful things, or through hearing beautiful music.  Knowledge isn't just gained through study; art is also a teacher of wisdom and truth.  I should clarify, that when I mean art I mean good art, not just art for art's sake like the modernists would have us think.

The beauty that my parents gave to my eyes and ears was a gift designed to open me to beauty everywhere, not just in art.  As a child, I had some vague sense of what I was experiencing, but it was not until repeated exposure gave me knowledge that I understood what made different things beautiful.  Beauty, like love, must be chosen.  Choice requires knowledge, and knowledge requires experience.  The choice of beauty brings, in its turn, knowledge.  A child has no experience to draw on for an appreciation of beauty.  It is the parents' role to give their children experience, and thus to enable them to choose beauty, and truth and goodness, where they find it.

I daresay these thoughts are scattered and a bit incoherent.  The reason I wanted to share them is that, of late, I've been scouring Youtube for good classical music to listen to, and also found a couple of ballets I've enjoyed watching.  First it was Swan Lake with the Kirov Ballet, then Giselle with Teatro alla Scalle de Milan.  Next up will be Le Corsair  with the American Ballet (just for something different) and Sleeping Beauty with the Kirov Ballet (because I love the music but have never seen the ballet.)  I'm gleefully continuing my education and exposure to culture!

[caption id="attachment_870" align="alignnone" width="430"]The Dancing Class - Desgas The Dancing Class - Desgas[/caption]


  1. Yay culture! Too many people seem to think it useless nowadays. Like, they're too focused on what's practical, what's absolutely necessary. Sure, I can survive without the arts, but what fun is that? Is that living?


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