All in Sync
How Music and Art Are Revitalizing American Religion
Publication Year: 2003
The absorbing narrative relates the story of a woman who overcame a severe personal crisis and went on to head a spiritual direction center where participants use the arts to gain clarity about their own spiritual journeys. Readers visit contemporary worship services in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Boston and listen to leaders and participants explain how music and art have contributed to the success of these services. All in Sync also illustrates how music and art are integral parts of some Episcopal, African American, and Orthodox worship services, and how people of faith are using their artistic talents to serve others.
Besides examining the role of the arts in personal spirituality and in congregational life, Wuthnow discusses how clergy and lay leaders are rethinking the role of the imagination, especially in connection with traditional theological virtues. He also shows how churches and arts organizations sometimes find themselves at odds over controversial moral questions and competing claims about spirituality. Accessible, relevant, and innovative, this book is essential for anyone searching for a better understanding of the dynamic relationships among religion, spirituality, and American culture.
Published by: University of California Press
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For more than three decades, my work has focused on Americans’changing interests in spirituality. I try to make sense of these interestsand to learn how they are shaped by the culture in which we live. I dothis mostly by keeping my ear to the ground. Through interviews andsurveys, I listen to people talking about their lives. I pay particular at-...
1. A Puzzle: The Question of Religious Vitality
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At a Presbyterian church in southern California, a shadow falls acrossthe pastor’s face as he reflects on his denomination. “Our worship stylesare archaic and our belief systems are inflexible,” he laments. “We arepushing people away.” Down the street, a Methodist minister shares thisconcern. “People are spiritual but not necessarily religious. We’ve be-...
2. Contemporary Spirituality: Seeking the Sacred in an Era of Uncertainty
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Sitting in church one Sunday, eight-year-old Susan suddenly felt a warmglow spreading from the top of her head down across her face, into herchest, and then throughout her whole body. She flattened the folds inher new pink taffeta skirt. Maybe it was the dress. Or the straw hat shewas wearing for the first time. They made her feel good about herself....
3. A Blending of Cultures: The Arts and Spirituality
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For Susan Brock, a career in interior design has provided ample oppor-tunities to bring a lifelong interest in the arts together with her searchfor spirituality. Although she created and enjoyed art and music as achild, this relationship between spirituality and the arts has emergedgradually over the years. In her early thirties, she began experimenting...
4. Personal Spirituality: Art and the Practice of Spiritual Discipline
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Sandra Lommasson is a tall, brown-eyed brunette with delicate featuresand a warm smile. She lives in Davis, California. When Sandra got mar-ried, the minister officiating at the wedding urged her and her husbandto join the church. Sandra had attended another church as a child buthadn’t participated since fifth grade. At nineteen, she had other things...
5. The Joy of Worship: Expression and Tradition in Congregational Life
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Whatever else it may be, American religion is a vast network of congre-gations and meeting houses, fellowship halls and temples, cathedralsand chapels. And in these places of worship, just as in the private devo-tional lives of individuals, the influence of music and art on spiritualityis becoming increasingly apparent. Church members, recognizing the...
6. Redeeming the Imagination: The Arts and Spiritual Virtue
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...“The church has been known throughout history for sucking creativityout of people,” says a Presbyterian pastor in Pennsylvania. “We need torepent of that attitude and do everything we can to encourage peopleto be imaginative and creative.” In Boston, a Baptist minister explainsthat using one’s religious imagination means being able to “sensually...
7. The Morality Problem: Why Churches and Artists Disagree
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If there has been, as much of the evidence suggests, a convergence be-tween the arts and religion in recent decades, then one aspect of the re-lationship between the two remains puzzling: Why does it appear thatthe arts and religion are often in tension? Indeed, why have the mediasometimes portrayed the two as being at war with each other? Is this ...
8. The Artist in Everyone: Faithful Living in a Spiritual Democracy
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If one were to step back from the present situation (say, by retreatingto a remote mountain cabin or by reflecting on it from the vantagepoint of a transcontinental flight), what sense might one make of thecurrent interest in the arts? Does this interest have any particular impli-cations for the ways in which Americans practice and express their faith?...
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Page Count: 300
Publication Year: 2003