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, Duke University
“Jazz music–so creative and free, so grounded and disciplined–provides a vivid and illuminating metaphor for reflecting on the internal dynamics of faithful and fruitful Christian lives and worship practices. This book pushes readers beyond any initial superficial appeal of this analogy to explore how it might radically convert our perceptions about the shape, tone, and sheer beauty of Christian discipleship.”
-John D. Witvliet, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship
Bruce Ellis Benson (PhD, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven) is professor of philosophy at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. His areas of expertise include contemporary French thought and philosophy of art. He is the author of Graven Ideologies, The Improvisation of Musical Dialogue, and Pious Nietzsche, and the coeditor of several books, including Evangelicals and Empire.
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