We are the sum of all the moments of our lives — all that is ours is in them: we cannot escape or conceal it. If the writer has used the clay of life to make his book, he has only used what all men must, what none can keep from using. Fiction is not fact, but fiction is fact selected and understood, fiction is fact arranged and charged with purpose. Dr. Johnson remarked that a man would turn over half a library to make a single book: in the same way, a novelist may turn over half the people in a town to make a single figure in his novel.
Much historic architecture takes its compositive tension from two theoretically incompatible morphological organizations that correspond to different universes or languages. This technique leads to a certain kind of monster or hybrid characterized by dualism. One of the basic monster assembly techniques involves the union of two organizations with one degree of compatibility and another obvious degree of incompatibility. Unions between different forms and materials can be carried out physically or by processes of chemical fusion. “Dualisms” may refer to limited scopes or can expand and infect all the scenarios affected by architecture, starting with its disciplinary definition, which is challenged by the view that the struggle between two disciplines is intrinsic to the project, or by incorporating a material, formal and geometric contradiction. Likewise, space can be conceived by introducing tension between the lower and the upper parts, or between interior and exterior, or by means of intrusions of varying depths and differing configurations.
In a recent interview, “‘Literally,’ Emojis, and Other Trends That Aren’t Destroying English“, Steven Pinker directs his characteristic optimism to writing style. I’ve been guilty too often of reckless hyperbole, but at least I’m not alone. Pinker notes: “We are always in search of superlatives, of ways of impressing upon our hearer that something that happened is noteworthy or even extraordinary. And the words we use to signal that eventually lose their meaning. ‘Awesome’ is a recent example. In the UK, ‘brilliant’ is used for the most banal observations. Before that, words like ‘terrific,’ meaning inspiring terror, ‘wonderful,’ inspiring wonder, ‘fabulous,’ worthy of fable. We see the fossils of dead superlatives that our ancestors overused the way we overuse ‘awesome.’ ‘Literally’ is a victim of a similar type of inflation. The figurative use doesn’t mean the language is deteriorating. Hyperbole has probably been around as long as language has been around.” What I most appreciated in the interview is that, like me, Pinker is a proponent of placing grammatical delimiters outside of quotations, preserving their ownership by the sentence, to which they properly belong. In response to the interviewer’s insistence that it is untidy to place a comma outside of the quotation mark, Pinker argues: “Your aesthetics may have been shaped by a lifetime of seeing it in the American pattern, but this would be a case in which any aesthetic reaction should be trumped by logic. Messing up the order of delimiters in a way that doesn’t reflect the logical nesting of their content is just an affront to an orderly mind.” Hear. Hear.
I always say I’m so disciplined in my writing because very strict discipline is the only way I’ve found any freedom as an artist. Like meditation or in my spiritual journey, or exercise – hiking … you never want to do any hard work – you just want to watch MSNBC and eat miniature Kit-Kats. Believe me, that’s what I’d prefer to do. Or maybe try to catch up with old issues of the New Yorker. But in my work, I hold an imaginary pop gun to my head, and I sit down and my butt stays in the chair no matter what.
Far from being an act of individual inspiration, what we call creativity is simply an expression of professional consensus. Using Vincent van Gogh as an example, the author declares that the artist’s “creativity came into being when a sufficient number of art experts felt that his paintings had something important to contribute to the domain of art.” Innovation, that is, exists only when the correctly credentialed hivemind agrees that it does. And “without such a response,” the author continues, “van Gogh would have remained what he was, a disturbed man who painted strange canvases.” What determines “creativity,” in other words, is the very faction it’s supposedly rebelling against: established expertise.
A lot of the church’s art in the last 50 years has become very sentimental and very earnest. And of course there’s nothing wrong with being earnest, but I don’t see that as a particularly Biblical way of communicating. We certainly don’t see that in the stories of the parables of Christ and even in the Old Testament prophets and how they communicated. … I don’t know what it is. It’s almost like … we’re defenders of the faith, like Christianity is going to come falling down unless we’re careful with how we present it. That’s not really how it works, you know? In fact, that’s really kind of arrogant. So yeah, we can afford to create movies that ask questions and certainly don’t have all the answers and use satire and all the different communication tools at our disposal.
Is secularism a positive force in the modern world? Or does it lead to fragmentation and disintegration? In Saving Leonardo, best-selling award-winning author Nancy Pearcey (Total Truth, coauthor How Now Shall We Live?) makes a compelling case that secularism is destructive and dehumanizing. Pearcey depicts the revolutionary thinkers and artists, the ideas and events, leading step by step to the unleashing of secular worldviews that undermine human dignity and liberty. She crafts a fresh approach that exposes the real-world impact of ideas in philosophy, science, art, literature, and film — voices that surround us in the classroom, in the movie theater, and in our living rooms. A former agnostic, Pearcey offers a persuasive case for historic Christianity as a holistic and humane alternative. She equips readers to counter the life-denying worldviews that are radically restructuring society and pervading our daily lives. Whether you are a devoted Christian, determined secularist, or don’t know quite where you stand, reading Saving Leonardo will unsettle established views and topple ideological idols. Includes more than 100 art reproductions and illustrations that bring the book’s themes to life.
Do you watch movies with your eyes open? You buy your tickets and concessions, and you walk into the theater. Celluloid images flash at twenty-four frames per second, and the hypnotic sequence of moving pictures coaxes you to suspend disbelief and be entertained by the implausible. Unfortunately, many often suspend their beliefs as well, succumbing to subtle lessons in how to behave, think and even perceive reality. Do you find yourself hoping that a sister will succeed in seducing her sibling’s husband, that a thief will get away with his crime, that a serial killer will escape judgment? Do you, too, laugh at the bumbling priest and seethe at the intolerant and abusive evangelist? Do you embrace worldviews that infect your faith and then wonder, after your head is clear, whether your faith can survive the infection? In this thoroughly revised and updated edition of his popular book, Brian Godawa guides you through the place of redemption in film, the tricks screenwriters use to communicate their messages, and the mental and spiritual discipline required for watching movies. Hollywood Worldviews helps you enter a dialogue with Hollywood that leads to a happier ending, one that keeps you aware of your culture and awake to your faith. ~ Product Description
Makoto Fujimura is a contemporary artist whose home and studio are near Ground Zero. Out of a response to the attacks on 9/11, he began to set aside time every Saturday to write. This was a time to process and reflect on the emotions and changes in his life and city. The result of these writings is this beautifully crafted book. In recent years, we have seen a renewed interest in the relationship between art and theology, and Fujimura offers a significant voice in that conversation. The book is a collection of essays loosely joined by the topics of faith, art, and culture, as the title suggests. While some books seem redundant after the first few chapters, the unique subject and fresh thoughts of each essay pulled me forward into every page turn. ~ J. Chandler at Amazon.com
It is not enough to condemn culture. Nor is it sufficient merely to critique culture or to copy culture. Most of the time, we just consume culture. But the only way to change culture is to create culture. Andy Crouch unleashes a stirring manifesto calling Christians to be culture makers. For too long, Christians have had an insufficient view of culture and have waged misguided “culture wars.” But we must reclaim the cultural mandate to be the creative cultivators that God designed us to be. Culture is what we make of the world, both in creating cultural artifacts as well as in making sense of the world around us. By making chairs and omelets, languages and laws, we participate in the good work of culture making. Crouch unpacks the complexities of how culture works and gives us tools for cultivating and creating culture. He navigates the dynamics of cultural change and probes the role and efficacy of our various cultural gestures and postures. Keen biblical exposition demonstrates that creating culture is central to the whole scriptural narrative, the ministry of Jesus and the call to the church. He guards against naive assumptions about “changing the world,” but points us to hopeful examples from church history and contemporary society of how culture is made and shaped. Ultimately, our culture making is done in partnership with God’s own making and transforming of culture. A model of his premise, this landmark book is sure to be a rallying cry for a new generation of culturally creative Christians. Discover your calling and join the culture makers. ~ Product Description
From the earliest period of its existence, Christianity has been recognized as the "religion of the cross." Some of the great monuments of Western art are representations of the brutal torture and execution of Christ. Despite the horror of crucifixion, we often find such images beautiful. The beauty of the cross expresses the central paradox of Christian faith: the cross of Christ’s execution is the symbol of God’s victory over death and sin. The cross as an aesthetic object and as a means of devotion corresponds to the mystery of God’s wisdom and power manifest in suffering and apparent failure. In this volume, Richard Viladesau seeks to understand the beauty of the cross as it developed in both theology and art from their beginnings until the eve of the renaissance. He argues that art and symbolism functioned as an alternative strand of theological expression — sometimes parallel to, sometimes interwoven with, and sometimes in tension with formal theological reflection on the meaning of the Crucifixion and its role insalvation history. Using specific works of art to epitomize particular artistic and theological paradigms, Viladesau then explores the contours of each paradigm through the works of representative theologians as well as liturgical, poetic, artistic, and musical sources. The beauty of the cross is examined from Patristic theology and the earliest representations of the Logos on the cross, to the monastic theology of victory and the Romanesque crucified "majesty," to the Anselmian "revolution" that centered theological and artistic attention on the suffering humanity of Jesus, and finally to the breakdown of the high scholastic theology of the redemption inempirically concentrated nominalism and the beginnings of naturalism in art. By examining the relationship between aesthetic and conceptual theology, Viladesau deepens our understanding of the foremost symbol of Christianity. This volume makes an important contribution to an emerging field, breaking new ground in theological aesthetics. The Beauty of the Cross is a valuable resource for scholars, students, and anyone interested in the passion of Christ and its representation.
In this essay, Lewis takes as his subject the thesis presented by two unnamed schoolmasters in what he calls “The Green Book”: that our value judgments refer only to our own sentiments and never to any intrinsic worth in the objects we judge (i.e. subjectivism). He is concerned as to what this will mean for the education of English children, and this essay constitutes one part of Lewis’ Abolition of Man, subtitled “Reflections on education with special reference to the teaching of English in the upper forms of schools”. In the authors’ seemingly innocent and casual subjectification of value there is a subversive outcome: “I do not mean, of course, that [the schoolboy] will make any conscious inference from what he reads to a general philosophical theory that all values are subjective and trivial. The very power of Gaius and Titius depends on the fact that they are dealing with a boy: a boy who thinks he is ‘doing’ his ‘English prep’ and has no notion that ethics, theology, and politics are all at stake. It is not a theory they put into his mind, but an assumption, which ten years hence, its origin forgotten and its presence unconscious, will condition him to take one side in a controversy which he has never recognized as a controversy at all.” The Green Book’s authors analyze a piece of banal and deceptive advertising. But, Lewis notes, the authors have effectively precluded any normative judgment of the ad, for a similiar judgment upon Johnson, Wordsworth, or Virgil could be no less an accurate description of a reader’s sentiments, and there is no other quality to which to appeal. Lewis ends with this oft-cited poetic prose: “And all the time — such is the tragicomedy of our situation — we continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more ‘drive’, or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or ‘creativity’. In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.” His argument continues in “The Way”. ~ Afterall
Grounded in Christian principles, this accessible and engaging book offers an informed and fascinating approach to popular culture. William D. Romanowski provides affectionate yet astute analysis of familiar, well-loved movies and television characters from Indiana Jones to Homer Simpson, and he speaks with historical depth and expertise on films from Casablanca to Crash and music from Bruce Springsteen to U2. Romanowski’s confessional approach affirms a role for popular culture in faithful living. Practical, analytical approaches to content, meaning, and artistic style offer the tools to participate responsibly and imaginatively in popular cultural activities. An engaging read, this new edition introduces students and thoughtful readers to popular culture — one of the most influential forces in contemporary society.
Recounting the biblical stories through visual images was the most prestigious form of commission for a Renaissance artist. In this book, Jules Lubbock examines some of the most famous of these pictorial narratives by artists of the caliber of Giovanni Pisano, Duccio, Giotto, Ghiberti, Brunelleschi, Donatello and Masaccio. He explains how these artists portrayed the major biblical events, such as: the Sacrifice of Isaac, the Annunciation, the Feast of Herod and the Trial and Passion of Jesus, so as to be easily recognizable and, at the same time, to capture our attention and imagination for long enough to enable us to search for deeper meanings. He provides evidence showing that the Church favoured the production of images that lent themselves to being read and interpreted in this way, and he describes the works themselves to demonstrate how the pleasurable activity of deciphering these meanings can work in practice. This fascinating book is richly illustrated, and many of it’s photographs have been specially taken to show how the paintings and relief sculptures appear in the settings, for which they were originally designed. Seen from these viewpoints, they become more readily intelligible. Likewise, the starting point and the originality of Lubbock’s interpretations lies in his accepting that these works of art were primarily designed to help people to reflect upon the ethical and religious significance of the biblical stories. The early Renaissance artists developed their highly innovative techniques to further these objectives, not as ends in themselves. Thus, the book aims to appeal to students, scholars and the general public, who are interested in Renaissance art and to those with a religious interest in biblical imagery. ~ Publisher’s Description
A small book on a big topic is a dangerous proposition. It may show disrespect for its subject by bragging that it can be read in a short time, such as Kant in 90 minutes. (Kant in 90 minutes is not Kant at all.) On the other hand, a short book can thoughtfully introduce a profound subject worthy of further consideration; it may be a primer. Art for God’s Sake is a worthy primer; it addresses the relationship of Christian faith and art in the hope of helping Christians “recover the arts.” Philip Graham Ryken, Pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia and the author of several previous books, including Written in Stone (an insightful study of the Decalogue), has in sixty-four pages outlined a biblical view of art’s place in God’s world. Ryken is moved by the plight of the Christian artist whose calling and work is misunderstood or rejected by the church. He realizes that Christians may be suspicious of art because of their concern for idolatry and their repulsion toward much of contemporary art, which has abandoned the ideal of beauty and revels in the bizarre, the transgressive, and the outright ugly. Ryken also laments that Christians too often reduce art to utilitarian and evangelistic purposes that fail to honor art as art. Further, Christians often laud art that does not take the brokenness of life east of Eden seriously. Quite frequently, Christian art is little more than pious kitsch, which he aptly describes as “tacky artwork of poor quality that appeals to low tastes”. ~ Douglas Groothuis
With timeless insight, Frederick Buechner introduces us to the Jesus of the Gospel. The old, old story begins to ring new as Buechner revisits the ancient stories and shows us different aspects of the face of Jesus. Here we see the story behind the story. The story which we are invited into. Our story. If occasionally you find that the stories of Jesus found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John have become so familiar they fall flat, this book will help you experience the wonder of reading them again as if for the first time. The faces of Jesus, his "ways of being and being seen" are illuminated in six chapters: Annunciation, Nativity, Ministry, Last Supper, Crucifixon, and Resurrection. The focus of the faces of Jesus is that whatever else he may have been, he was a man once and had a "man’s face, a human face." ~ G. Richard Wheatcroft
"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.
It is worth considering the strange media landscape in which political talk radio is a salient. Never before have there been so many different national news sources — different now in terms of both medium and ideology. Major newspapers from anywhere are available online; there are the broadcast networks plus public TV, cable’s CNN, Fox News, CNBC, et al., print and Web magazines, Internet bulletin boards, The Daily Show, e-mail newsletters, blogs. All this is well known; it’s part of the Media Environment we live in. But there are prices and ironies here. One is that the increasing control of U.S. mass media by a mere handful of corporations has — rather counterintuitively — created a situation of extreme fragmentation, a kaleidoscope of information options. Another is that the ever increasing number of ideological news outlets creates precisely the kind of relativism that cultural conservatives decry, a kind of epistemic free-for-all in which “the truth” is wholly a matter of perspective and agenda. In some respects all this variety is probably good, productive of difference and dialogue and so on. But it can also be confusing and stressful for the average citizen. Short of signing on to a particular mass ideology and patronizing only those partisan news sources that ratify what you want to believe, it is increasingly hard to determine which sources to pay attention to and how exactly to distinguish real information from spin.
Readers of Dark’s book Everyday Apocalypse know that this high school English teacher is a passionate, articulate, absurdly well-read interpreter of popular culture. But even the forewarned may be astonished by this latest effort. Dark’s skill at probing the spiritual resonances of American culture — in forms high and low, from Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville to Bob Dylan and David Lynch — is matched by his uncanny ability to select telling moments from America’s common story. Whether it’s Elvis taking a shotgun to his television sets, Dylan confessing a sense of common humanity with Lee Harvey Oswald or George Washington treating British prisoners of war with unprecedented civility, Dark excavates a series of witnesses who speak prophetically to what he sees as our media-saturated overconfidence in our own righteousness. Moreover, he offers a convincing and unsettling account of the gospel itself — the “Jewish Christian” story of forgiveness and human dignity that, Dark argues, has animated America’s ideals even as it has continually critiqued America’s practices. Dark’s Southern heritage is evident in his literary allusions (the subtitle echoes Flannery O’Connor) and in his affection for egalitarian conversation. Nearly every page has something to make readers pause, laugh, think or pray; perhaps most amazing is Dark’s skill at burying layers of meaning for the reader to discover. It’s hard to imagine a better tonic for our age than this unblinkingly honest exercise in faithful patriotism. ~ Publishers Weekly
There have been many histories of Christian art and architecture, and many that have paid attention to the various cultural, social, and economic contexts in which the architecture and art appeared. Most of these accounts have been written by art historians. Kevin Seasoltz writes as a theologian, whose aim is to relate theological and liturgical developments throughout the course of Christian history to developments in sacred architecture and art. Believing that sacred buildings and artifacts have often been more constitutive of theological developments than constitutive of them, Seasoltz wants to help people discover architecture and art as theological loci — places of revelation. Following a chapter on culture as the context for theology, liturgy, and art, Seasoltz surveys developments from the early church up through the conventional artistic styles and periods. He pays particular attention to the conflicts that emerged between religion and art since the Enlightenment and to the significant advances made since the middle of the twentieth century to reconciling a wide range of competent architects, artists, and craft persons to the ministry of the Protestant, Anglican, and Catholic churches. Comprehensive, illuminating, ecumenical.
While interest in the relationship between theology and the arts is on the rise, there are very few resources for students and teachers, let alone a comprehensive text on the subject. This book fills that lacuna by providing an anthology of readings on theological aesthetics drawn from the first century to the present. A superb sourcebook, “Theological Aesthetics” brings together original texts that are relevant and timely to scholars today. Editor Gesa Elsbeth Thiessen has taken a careful, inclusive approach to the book, including articles and extracts that are diverse and ecumenical as well as representative of gender and ethnicity. The book is organized chronologically, and each historical period begins with commentary by Thiessen that sets the selections in context. These engaging readings range broadly over themes at the intersection of religion and the arts, including beauty and revelation, the vision of God, artistic and divine creation, God as artist, images of God, the interplay of the senses and the intellect, human imagination, mystical writings, meanings of signs and symbols, worship, liturgy, doxology, the relationship of word and image, icons and iconoclasm, the role of the arts in twentieth-century theology, and much more.
The Dictionary of Christian Art, now rebranded in the best-selling Oxford Paperback Reference series, is a unique and fascinating exploration of the art and architecture that has been influenced and inspired by biblical stories and Christian history and beliefs. The Dictionary combines general essays on the periods and styles important in the history of Christian art with lots of shorter entries that describe specific works, artists, themes, and visual images, and which give the reader practical guidance on where in Europe to locate the works described. Among the many features of this dictionary are: detailed essays on periods and styles in art and architecture, including Byzantine, Renaissance, Baroque; general background to the Old and New Testaments, and to Christian tradition and beliefs; forms of art influenced by Christianity, such as illuminated manuscripts, stained glass; artists and architects and their works, for example Fra Angelico, Donatello, Pugin, and many others; and places and buildings, including Assisi, Roma, St Paul’s, the Sistine Chapel. There are also descriptions and explanations of features of Christian churches, significant saints, popes, saints, and rulers, and a glossary of Architectural Terms and detailed bibliography.
I will sketch an argument that if we follow St. Augustine in seeing the cosmos —i.e., the sum total of all created existence—as a work of art, then we have good reason to be sceptical of the judgment that there are gratuitous evils. I will do so by stating several features of works of art each of which, when transferred to the case of the cosmos, makes it difficult to conclude that any evil we see is gratuitous. However this account does not undercut the religious claims that from the goodness of things in the universe we can tell something about God’s goodness. Paradoxically, evil does not give a strong argument against the existence of God, but good might give a strong argument in favor of it.
What Christian films — and Christian “art” in general — have lacked is a willingness to portray evil convincingly. It was Milton’s Satan and Dante’s Inferno that made them two of the most powerful Christian artists of all time. Because they understood evil and did not shrink from it, their depictions of goodness had power. In order to be redemptive, art has to convince us there is something real from which we need redeeming. Conversely, much secular art in the last half-century illustrates confusion and pain brilliantly but provides no antidote. The screeching hell of marital discord in Woody Allen’s Husbands and Wives puts the viewer as close to seeing the need for God as any “Christian film” ever has, but stops there. Ditto John Updike’s anti-paeans to adultery and suburban ennui; he limns the darkness all so well, so perfectly — too perfectly — and then splits for the golf course. We get universes of darkness without light, and from Christian “artists” we get watts of light without darkness. So it seems a little chiaroscuro is generally in order. Early on in the movie, at Mclean’s funeral — which is a genuine Christian funeral rather than the papier-mâché facsimiles Hollywood usually gives us (“dearly beloved — ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” and so on — Miller reminds his fellow prisoners that “there is suffering before glory, there is a cross before the crown.” That says it.
More Christians than ever before are studying and working in music, painting, sculpture, theater, television, film, architecture and more. Are you one of them? If so, you, like artists in every discipline, face the challenge of working in a way that is both wholly Christian and wholly contemporary. Hilary Brand and Adrienne Chaplin have written this practical and inspirational guide for you. In Art and Soul you’ll find encouragement for developing a Christian worldview from which you can approach your craft. Here the best teaching on Christianity and the arts during the past fifty years is digested and reapplied, supported by a wealth of quotes from artists, critics and Christian thinkers. A wide range of illustrations, both historical and contemporary, illuminates the text as Brand and Chaplin explore the conflicting influences on Christians entering or working in the arts. They correlate the major biblical themes of creation, fall and redemption to the business of making art. And they examine the nature and purpose of the arts — along with the way you experience and interpret them. Finally, you’ll find helpful guidelines on practicing and developing your art. Here is the book to help you meet the challenges facing you today — both from the world of art and from the world of the church.