Santa Fe Institute
Fr. Michael Morris, OP, PhD
Father Michael is a Dominican Friar who has degrees in philosophy and theology and a doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley in Art History.
He has dedicated his life to the revival of the Church's interest in art which has been waning in the last forty years. In an effort to keep religious art in the forefront of Christian devotion, Fr. Michael has been writing a column in the fabulously popular devotional booklet known as MAGNIFICAT for the last ten years . In that column, Fr. Michael regularly reaches a quarter of a million people and analyzes a classical work of art from a Christian perspective. “Art used to be the handmaiden of the Church, illustrating the beauty of truth,” claims Fr. Michael, "but in the last few decades, it has NOT been taught in the seminaries of the world nor even in the pontifical universities of Rome as had been mandated by the documents of Vatican II."
A study of Religion and the Arts is part of the curriculum of the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley. It is perhaps the only place in the world where a rigorous study in this area can be achieved. The school offers a Masters of Arts degree in Theology with a concentration in Religion and the Arts. At the Graduate Theological Union, of which the Dominican School is a member, a Doctorate in Art and Religion can be awarded. The GTU is the oldest school in the modern world to offer such a degree.
Father Michael has been interested film history in addition to art history. He wrote an award winning biography of Natacha Rambova, the wife of Rudolph Valentino, because she was interested in establishing a school in the 1930s that would study the relationship between Religion and the Arts. The school never materialized, but its quest for a union of the two disciplines that has been too often estranged in the modern world continues at the DSPT.
In 1999, Fr. Michael assumed the directorship of the Santa Fe Institute, a research library dedicated to the study of religious art. He is presently looking for a permanent place where the library can be housed, a place where students and scholars can gather and research the beauty of truth and demonstrate through lectures and publications the fruits of their knowledge.
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