Recommended Books or Art, Beauty, Interpretation
Read here for an excellent classical education in the most influential works of philosophy through the ages. The list includes classic texts from ancient, medieval, modern, and contemporary philosophy. The list links to Amazon.com as well as GoogleBooks, when available.
Another excellent guide to a world of excellent novels with a number of selections not found on the Modern Library's list of the same name.
Image: A Journal of the Arts and Religion (2000).
In selecting books for this list, Image Journal decided to list an author only once to end up with 100 different writers. Moreover, only creative writing was considered: fiction, poetry, drama, and creative nonfiction. The works selected manifest a genuine engagement with the Judeo-Christian heritage of faith, rather than merely using religion as background or subject matter. Authors featured on the list include notables like G.K. Chesterton, Ray Bradbury, Annie Dillard, T.S. Eliot, Madeleine L'Engle, C.S. Lewis, Thomas Merton, and many more. The list is orgnaized alphabetically by last name. "We hope that the following list offers but a glimpse of that wealth of talent this past century has seen — talent exhibited both by those who laid the groundwork for the great works now being written and by those whose compelling narratives and lyrics are helping to bring us into the twenty-first century with a renewed hope in the marriage of religion and art." ~ Image
Janice Elsheimer (Shaw Books: Nov 20, 2001), 224 pages.
Perhaps you're a "closet writer" who's been scribbling in journals for years. Maybe you once had a passion for playing the piano or violin — a passion that is still flickering somewhere deep inside you. You may have a knack for photography, drawing, gardening, cooking, or some other creative gift. Or you may long to express yourself creatively, but have yet to discover your unique talents. Your creativity was meant be used. Whether you are an artist who has already identified your gifts or you believe that you have artistic talent that has never been developed, working through this book will help you grow closer to becoming the person God has designed you to be. "Chapter-by-chapter, with thought-provoking words and exercises, Janice lifts the veil that blinds our thoughts towards our gifts. Most of us will be able to see ourselves somewhere within the pages of this book. We will then have the chance to overcome the lies that have kept us from believing that we can enjoy the wonderment of creating with the talent we possess." ~ from the foreword by Thomas Blackshear
David Morgan (University of California Press: May 31, 2005), 333 pages.
"Sacred gaze" denotes any way of seeing that invests its object--an image, a person, a time, a place--with spiritual significance. Drawing from many different fields, David Morgan investigates key aspects of vision and imagery in a variety of religious traditions. His lively, innovative book explores how viewers absorb and process religious imagery and how their experience contributes to the social, intellectual, and perceptual construction of reality. Ranging widely from thirteenth-century Japan and eighteenth-century Tibet to contemporary America, Thailand, and Africa, The Sacred Gaze discusses the religious functions of images and the tools viewers use to interpret them. Morgan questions how fear and disgust of images relate to one another and explains how scholars study the long and evolving histories of images as they pass from culture to culture. An intriguing strand of the narrative details how images have helped to shape popular conceptions of gender and masculinity. The opening chapter considers definitions of "visual culture" and how these relate to the traditional practice of art history. Amply illustrated with more than seventy images from diverse religious traditions, this masterful interdisciplinary study provides a comprehensive and accessible resource for everyone interested in how religious images and visual practice order space and time, communicate with the transcendent, and embody forms of communion with the divine. The Sacred Gaze is a vital introduction to the study of the visual culture of religions.
William A. Dyrness (Baker Academic: Jan 1, 2001), 190 pages.
How can art enhance and enrich the Christian faith? What is the basis for a relationship between the church and visual imagery? Can the art world and the Protestant church be reconciled? Is art idolatry and vanity, or can it be used to strengthen the church? Grounded in historical and biblical research, William Dyrness offers students and scholars an intriguing, substantive look into the relationship between the church and the world of art. Faith and art were not always discordant. According to Dyrness, Israel understood imagery and beauty as reflections of God's perfect order; likewise, early Christians used art to teach and inspire. However, the Protestant church abandoned visual arts and imagery during the Reformation in favor of the written word and has only recently begun to reexamine art's role in Christianity and worship. Dyrness affirms this renewal and argues that art, if reflecting the order and wholeness of the world God created, can and should play an important role in modern Christianity.
Robert Wuthnow (University of California Press: Jul 7, 2003), 319 pages.
Wuthnow and his associates interviewed 100 successful artists who are interested in spirituality, offering many of their stories in this topically organized book. Ceramicists, painters, dancers, sculptors, musicians and writers talked to interviewers about their spiritual journeys, their professional lives and the way the two have informed each other, often to the point of becoming indistinguishable. While each artist's story is unique, many common themes emerge: often dealing with family trauma, these artists were spiritually curious children who asked tough questions and emerged as adults who found solace through a series of spiritual practices, romantic relationships and artistic pursuits. Compelling in some respects, these biographies are unfortunately pervaded by narcissism. In particular, several of the artists Wuthnow features have lived nomadically with children in tow, often separating them from the other parent. Wuthnow anticipates that his subjects will be perceived as self-absorbed spiritual dabblers, and takes pains on several occasions to argue that they are not. He does a fine job of finding common themes in these narratives, particularly many interviewees' appreciation of mystery and ineffability, and admiringly calls artists the spiritual leaders of our time. Artistically minded readers will likely agree with this assertion, and discover in these pages a vibrant perspective on spirituality and the meaning of contemporary life.
Madeleine L'Engle (Doubleday: Sep 1993), 320 pages.
We are all strangers in a strange land, longing for home, but not quite knowing what or where home is. We glimpse it sometimes in our dreams, or as we turn a corner, and suddenly there is a strange, sweet familiarity that vanishes almost as soon as it comes…" Story captures our hearts and feeds our imaginations. It reminds us who we are and where we came from. Story gives meaning and direction to our lives as we learn to see it as an affirmation of God’s love and truth–an acknowledgment of our longing for a rock in the midst of life’s wilderness. Drawing upon her own experiences, well-known tales in literature, and selected narratives from Scripture, Madeleine L’Engle gently leads the way into the glorious world of story in The Rock That Is Higher. Here she acknowledges universal human longings and considers how literature, Scripture, personal stories, and life experiences all point us toward our true home. ~ Product Description
"The Board's List", Modern Library (July 20, 1998).
Since the "100 Best" story first broke in The New York Times on Monday, July 20, 1998, all kinds of opinions about the list — and theories about the Modern Library's purpose in concocting such a contest of sorts — emerged. The goal of the "100 Best" project was to get people talking about great books. We succeeded beyond our wildest imaginings... On July 21, 1998, the Radcliffe Publishing Course compiled and released its own list of the century's top 100 novels, at the request of the Modern Library editorial board. ~ Modern Library
"World Magazine's Top 40 Books of 20th Century" in World (July 3, 1999).
World Magazine describes their list as "the best titles proclaiming or applying a biblical worldview in a hostile 20th century". World is a distinctly Christian publication: "We stand for factual accuracy and biblical objectivity, trying to see the world as best we can the way the Bible depicts it. Journalistic humility for us means trying to give God's perspective. We distinguish between issues on which the Bible is clear and those on which it isn't. We also distinguish between journalism and propaganda: We're not willing to lie because someone thinks it will help God's cause." Accordingly, the list emphasizes works amenable to Christian theism, though also with a notable presence of Communist critique.