The Hillbilly Thomists play from their self-titled debut album. The performance includes remarks on what it means to be a Catholic performer and the role music plays in Evangelization.
What is a Hillbilly Thomist?
In 1955, the southern author Flannery O’Connor said of herself, “Everybody who has read Wise Blood thinks I’m a hillbilly nihilist, whereas. . .I’m a hillbilly Thomist.” She said that her fiction was concerned with the ways grace is at work among people who do not have access to the sacraments. The Thomist (one who follows the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas) believes that the invisible grace of God can be at work in visible things, just as the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, in the person of Christ.
Traditional bluegrass music is playful and energetic; along with American folk music, it often contains explicitly theological themes: belief in Christ, the goodness of life, the pain of unrequited love, the finality of death, and hope in eternal life. It is a traditional southern form of testimony to the presence of grace in the human heart. So when it is played by Dominicans who study Thomas Aquinas, there is no doubt that what comes about as a result is Hillbilly Thomism.