Visual Faith

So I’m reading the next book in the Baker Academic’s Egaging Culture series: Visual Faithvisual faith

I’m reading this in preparation for the continuation of a conversation with Mr Worship VJ, Stephen Proctor it’s got lots of awesome tidbits.. and I especially appreciate the common focus on Art rather than just visual art.   Dyrness is the Dean of Theology at Fuller Seminary.  He begins by sorting through the history of Christianity and visual art (which winds up mirroring or Being its relationship with all Fine & Performing arts), then he covers the use/reference of art and beauty in the bible, and finally explores the impact of art and worship.

In his Penultimate chapter, Dyrness drops this gem of a paragraph, which almost perfectly aligns with the discussions Stephen Proctor, Camron Ware and others are having about the role of media in worship:

p. 137

“Christians in the arts should do what [Lynn] Aldrich and [Makoto] Fujimura illustrate (two commited christians making headway in the art world).  They illustrate some ways (there are surely many others!)  of penetrating and engaging contemporary culture.

“…But the church also needs a growing number of artist who will work more directly in the church etting, who will find ways to connect with biblical patterns of worship. Perhaps we need to develop (or redevelop) the category of biblical spectacle.  I am not thinking here necessarily of the Crystal Cathedral variety Easter or Christmas pageants, although some of what happens there is worth noticing.  I am thinking instead of a public perfromance or display that makes use of music, lighting, and visual arrangements to elicit a response. Cyrilla Barr, in an important article on “Music and spectacle,” defines such events as “the literal incarnation of images derived from Scripture, liturgical practices and the exegesis certain post-Nicene church fathers.  It seems to me that such collaborative projects, which could be done on a small or large scale, correspond with both the biblical framework of drama and narrative an with scontemporary cultural sensitivities.

Why can’t artists, musicians, and technicians participate in creating experiences of worship? Perhaps visual artists, dancers and musicians could work together to elaborate on the Scripture passage and sermon. Or perhaps visuala artists could join with actors to create dramatic pieces that make use of creative lighting and moving images.  Most churches have a great deal of talent that could be used to enhance and expand worship, as well as personal and family devotional life.”

Read that twice.

Dyrness gets to this place by examining the characteristics of postmodern art… noting it’s lack of a cultural center; pluarlistic acceptance of multiple genres, styles, worldviews and mediums; emphasis on performance and interaction; and strong spriritual connections.  These values, especially cross-genre, spiritual experiences are well within the reach of a worship service…

More on this later, I’m sure.  Chew on that for the moment.

Oh, and i’m in Louisville this week in case you happen to be. 🙂