In The Substance of Things Seen, Robin M. Jensen begins several conversations about the place of art in worship and the effects of the experience of art upon our lives, worship, and ability to clearly see ourselves and our place in the universe crafted by God. The book is a record of several lectures given as part of a series at Calvin Institute of Christian Worship regarding the practice of Christian worship. Jensen draws on observations, personal experience, history and some scripture to describe the place art has had in Christian community and worship, enumerate the effects of art on spiritual formation, explore artistic representations of Christian experience, and the use of art in creating places of worship. She tackles debates ongoing since the beginnings of the church: whether art should be an aid to worship, or simply a teaching device, and the place of decorative art in churches. She goes on to explore how art moves us to reconsider assumptions about ourselves, the...
Art is not merely an illustration of the spoken word, it is a form of communication unto itself and likewise religious art expresses a theology which is separately articulated from scripture and doctrine. Jensen explains these concepts clearly and well. Her insights into visual theology are fresh. But if you aren't particularly knowledgeable about theological terms or art terms you can still read and get a lot out of this book. It is good scholarship without being over your head.
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