Important Lessons from Fr. Pontifex's New Spoken-Word Video
If you were hoping to start your week with a Youtube video that combines being entertaining and thought-provoking with having great music while also highlighting the flaws in "new atheist" ideology, look no further! Catholic priest and musician Father Claude Burns, better known as Fr. Pontifex, has released a new spoken-word video called God Is Dead, in which he powerfully addresses the claims of folks such as Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and the late Christopher Hitchens. Check out some of these lyrics:
The universe is rational, lawful, and corresponds one-to-one with our brain --
these are tenets of faith the scientific method maintains.
So let's refrain from an arrogant attack where science can't reach;
there are many things that are known [that] the empirical method can't teach
You imitate our virtues, and say that they can be lived without God or creed,
but they follow our moral structure, and you deny you follow our lead.
And people have been killed in the name of religion, that cannot be denied,
but you say that without religion, that peace and harmony would thrive.
The Spanish Inquisition: Three thousand.
The Salem Witch Trials: Nineteen.
But millions upon millions, slaughtered in atheistic regimes.
These well crafted lyrics combine with dramatic music to make for a stunning video. And it seems that a lot of people are taking notice: It's been out less than a month and already has over 45,000 views, and over a thousand comments (many of which are vitriolic and contain profanity -- I don't recommend reading them). On the heels of his Why I Love Religion, And Love Jesus video, a Youtube masterpiece that's been viewed over a half-million times, it looks like Fr. Pontifex has another success on his hands.
Matthew Warner already wrote about the core message of the video, but I wanted to take a look at it from a different angle. Specifically, I think that Fr. Pontifex and Spirit Juice Studios are paving the way for using the arts and new media effectively in the New Evangelization. This video in particular is a good example of:
1. Thinking outside the box about how to speak the truth: When we think of explaining the truths of the Faith to modern atheists, most of us would immediately imagine a book filled with dense theology, an analytical essay, or a lecture packed with multisyllabic philosophical terms. Those methods of communication have their place, of course, but Fr. Pontifex shows us that we shouldn't discount the arts as a powerful way to convey our points as well.
2. Producing top-quality work: Fr. Pontifex recently mentioned in an interview with The Blaze that he's been practicing creating spoken-word and rap music since he was 17. The production company that has put out his most recent videos, Spirit Juice Studios, has obviously invested a lot of effort into learning how to produce stunning videos as well. We, the audience, get to reap the benefits from their hard work by watching a video that entertains as much as it informs. My guess is that many more people took the time to watch this video than would have if Fr. Pontifex and Spirit Juice had put less effort into crafting something great.
3. Putting your vocation first: As successful as Fr. Pontifex's spoken-word clips have been, he doesn't see making popular Youtube videos as his top priority in life -- and I believe that his dedication to God through his vocation is one of the reason that his work is so effective. In that interview with The Blaze, Fr. Pontifex said, "Music is a passion of mine, but it is nothing in comparison to my passion for Jesus Christ and his Church. I really pray to keep my focus and not be pulled off into some direction this is not supposed to go. My role as Priest keeps me anchored in who I am and what I am about." However each of us goes about sharing our faith, we would all do well to learn from his example.
And now, kick back and enjoy the video: