Discovering God through the Arts: How Every Christian Can Grow Closer to God by Appreciating Beauty & Creativity
February 2021 • Paperback • 978-0-8024-1997-2
What does art have to do with faith?
For many Christians, paintings, films, music, and other forms of art are simply used for wall decoration, entertaining distraction, or worshipful devotion. But what if the arts played a more prominent role in the Christian life?
In Discovering God through the Arts, discover how the arts can be tools for faith-building, life-changing spiritual formation for all Christians. Terry Glaspey, author of 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know, examines:
- How the arts assist us in prayer and contemplation
- How the arts help us rediscover a sense of wonder
- How the arts help us deal with emotions
- How the arts aid theological reflection and so much more.
Let your faith be enriched, and discover how beauty and creativity can draw you nearer to the ultimate Creator.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Terry Glaspey is a writer, editor, creative mentor, and someone who finds various forms of art – painting, films, novels, poetry, and music — to be some of the places where he most deeply connects with God. He has a master’s degree in history from the University of Oregon, as well as undergraduate degrees emphasizing counseling and pastoral studies. He has written over a dozen books, including Not a Tame Lion: The Spiritual Legacy of C.S. Lewis, The Prayers of Jane Austen, 25 Keys to Life-Changing Prayer, Bible Basics for Everyone, and others. He has two daughters and lives in Eugene, Oregon.
Terry Glaspey is an incisive and artful craftsman of words who has spent decades paying attention to art in all its forms, and thinking deeply about the ways in which they express and shape the life of faith. Whether you are a long-term kindred spirit in that appreciation or new to contemplating the notion of the arts and spiritual disciplines as vital and intertwined paths to faith, join Glaspey as a fellow pilgrim through the careful, leisurely reading of this warm and winsome book.
– Jeff Crosby
Publishing executive and compiler of Days of Grace Through the Year
The arts are, for most of us, already an important element of our journey of faith. We may not, however, always be conscious of this fact. The architecture of the places and spaces where we worship, along with their stained-glass windows and the vessels for celebrating the Lord’s Supper. The music we sing together or listen to a choice perform—hymns, gospel songs, worship choruses, anthems, and musical interludes that occur during key parts of the service. The cross that adorns most sanctuaries. In some traditions, the vestments worn by clergy. The floral arrangements on the altar. Even the creative designs of the bulletins we use are a reflection of our creativity. But we generally don’t give much thought to any of these. We take them for granted. They are, however, some of the ways that the arts influence our experience every Sunday.
All these elements may inspire us, move us, and delight us. Or they may disappoint us or cause bafflement, boredom, or tears. But they will have an impact.
Whether in a worship service or in our daily lives, beauty often catches us by surprise. We don’t expect to be bowled over by it. Other times, though, we intentionally seek it out. We might put on a favorite record, attend a concert, visit an art exhibit, or tour a natural site famed for its beauty. The act of seeing, hearing, and feeling leaves a mark on us, and adds a memory that we can revisit later, or stirs something inside our soul.
Experiencing art is like falling in love. It demands vulnerability at the start, and it often takes a lot of work to keep it alive and growing.
Learning to appreciate great art often takes time. One of the signs of lesser art is that it can be accessed more immediately, and you can pretty much grasp everything it has to offer very quickly. Such art makes little lasting impact. It generally doesn’t stay with us or haunt our thoughts like a more complex work of art might. Such art is often created for propaganda purposes—to sell a product, arouse us to political or social action, convince us of a religious commitment or make us feel more comfortable about holding it. We glance and then forget. We listen and then move on. But the best art, the kind of art we will explore in this book, tends to take its time in impacting us, just as spiritual formation does. It is a worthy goal to learn to discriminate between the “just ok” and the “truly great,” to recognize what is of lasting value, to probe more deeply into the ideas that gave rise to it. This can involve a bit of study and reflection rather than just expecting an immediate pleasurable response. Similarly, a sermon that stirs up an audience through rhetorical flourish may not produce the lasting results of one that causes us to have to question and ponder what we already think we believe.
The arts want to create a conversation with you. Are you ready to engage with them and see what they have to say?
In Discovering God through the Arts, Terry Glaspey gives us a perfect pairing for his award-winning 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know. Thoughtfully written, this book explores the mysteries of how we can meet God in deeper ways through our encounters with art, and how that knowledge can enrich our faith. Glaspey leads us step-by-step through the journey of discovery of art’s power not only to inspire but also to heal, and with the honed skill of a good teacher, he offers us a wonderful resource to further our journeying. I heartily recommend it to you!
– Lancia E. Smith
Founder and executive director, Cultivating and The Cultivating Project
With countless examples from across the arts, Discovering God through the Arts is a treasure trove of diverse recommendations for Christians who appreciate the arts. In a distracted age with a glut of spectacles to constantly amuse us, Glaspey helps readers cut through the clutter and meaningfully attend to the good, true, and beautiful. For over-mediated souls whose senses are dulled by the barrage of stimuli before them, a book like this is an absolute gift.
– Brett McCracken
Senior editor at The Gospel Coalition and author of The Wisdom Pyramid: Feeding Your Soul in a Post-Truth World
In my circles, Terry Glaspey is an institution in himself. In Discovering God through the Arts, Glaspey takes us on a whimsical and illuminating journey of appreciating God’s gifts of creativity as they are scattered through history. A must read from an unquestionably transformative author.
– A.J. Swoboda
Assistant professor of Bible, Theology, and World Christianity at Bushnell University and author of After Doubt