Daniel McInerny has published an intriguing play on the young Karol Wojtyła, now St. John Paul II, focusing on his life as an actor during the Nazi occupation and investigating the question of what it was that led him to forsake his thespian dreams in favor of a priestly vocation.
In a magnificent interview for Relevant Radio with Sheila Liaugminas, McInerny not only discusses his new play but shares some profound insights about culture, faith, and the arts. McInerny and his host delve deep into these topics in a one-hour interview that is well worth the time. Among other questions, McInerny makes a strong case for the importance of the arts in a world where politics seems all-important. In a related article for The Catholic Thing, he puts it thus:
To paraphrase a remark of G.K. Chesterton’s, in building up a culture, one has to build as Nehemiah rebuilt Jerusalem, with the sword in one hand and the trowel in the other. The sword is the weapon of defense. It represents logical argument and public disputation. The trowel is the tool of construction. With the trowel we put up walls and prepare the earth for planting. While the sword keeps invaders out, the trowel creates the new city. And what does the trowel represent? Works of the artistic imagination. Why are such works so important? Because they enable us to contemplate how life should be lived.
Life, as McInerny points out, is made up of choices and acts. As the title of his new play suggests, John Paul II may have left the theater, but he remained the best kind of actor until the day he died.