Over the past several weeks The Church and Postmodern Culture blog has hosted a book symposium on Liturgy as a Way of Life: Embodying the Arts in Christian Worship by Bruce Ellis Benson. Contributors included Ed Phillips, Linda Borecki, and Nathaniel Marx, with responses from Bruce Benson. Here are the links for the engaging conversation that took place about this fascinating book.
About the Book:
Philosopher Bruce Ellis Benson explores how the arts inform and cultivate service to God, helping the church to not only think differently about the arts but also act differently. He contends that we are all artists, that our very lives should be seen as art, and that we should live liturgically in service to God and neighbor.
Working from the biblical structure of call and response, Benson rethinks what it means to be artistic and recovers the ancient Christian idea of presenting oneself to God as a work of art. Rather than viewing art as practiced only by the few, Benson argues that we are all called by God to be artists. He reenvisions art as the very core of our being: we are God’s own art, and God calls us to improvise as living and growing works of art. Benson also examines the nature of liturgy and connects art and liturgy in a new way.
“This packs a lot of punch for a short book. Yet the tone is gracious, cautious, and often conversational. It signals a new ‘turn’ in worship studies: a concern for a theologically rich and culturally alert engagement with the arts in congregational worship. It deserves a wide readership and will doubtless provoke a whole series of fruitful improvisations.”
Jeremy Begbie, Thomas A. Langford Research Professor of Theology, Duke University
“‘Call and response’ and ‘improvisation’ are only two of the many ideas Benson fleshes out in this book. I appreciate these two especially because our culture has so misunderstood the terms ‘liturgy’ and ‘creativity’ (which is God’s alone). We need a philosopher to set us right.”
Marva J. Dawn, author of Reaching Out without Dumbing Down, A Royal “Waste” of Time, and How Shall We Worship?