Bridge to Wonder
Art as a Gospel of Beauty
Publication Year: 2012
It is often difficult to describe beauty or even justify attempts to experience something beautiful. Yet if artists—whether painters or poets, actors or musicians, architects or sculptors—teach us anything, it is that the pursuit of beauty is a common feature among all humanity. As Cecilia González-Andrieu contends, these varied experiences with artistic beauty are embedded with revelatory and prophetic power that not only affects a single individual but allows for communal formation. Named one ofAmerica magazine’s most promising young theologians, González-Andrieu seeks to engage art in order to reveal its religious significance. Bridge to Wonder proposes a method of theological aesthetics allowing readers to mine the depths of creative beauty to discover variegated theological truths that enable greater communion with each other and the One source of all that is beautiful.
Published by: Baylor University Press
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Half Title Page, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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List of Illustrations
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Acknowledgments y Agradecimientos
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T he first person any author should thank is his or her reader, so thank you. I am grateful that you are entering this conversa-tion with me, and I hope it will be fruitful and serve to prompt many insights. As you will read in more detail, my curiosity about experi-ences of beauty as communicative of the deepest religious insights began because there were many people who facilitated such experiences. For ...
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E ven though his works are part of art collections from the Vatican to the Smithsonian, John August Swanson (American, b. 1938) routinely admits to feeling like an amateur, even after four decades as an artist.1 In one of his early works, the beautifully rendered visual story Inventor (1975, Plate 1.1), he summarizes the work of the artist and the humility he feels every time he works. The eight panels present an art-...
2. This Book Is Not about Art
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To say this book is not about art is to imply that it is about some-thing else, and one way to begin exploring this something else is to examine first the work of art. By this, clearly, I do not mean an artwork, but rather the work—the “tasks”—that art accomplishes. In an analogy of a bridge, an initial task might be articulated as the work of making possible the crossing of vast expanses. The question then turns ...
3. In Search of Wonder
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One way to frame the capacity of art to be theological is in terms of its ability to facilitate theological “work.” Creative work (as an activity) and creative works (in their many roles) often explore and also evoke experiences that have all the characteristics of revelation.1The power of revelation is evident when art has the capacity to partici-pate in communicating the divine in-breaking into human history and ...
4. Seeing (as) Salvation, the Hope of Art and Religion
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I n an earlier period of history, the work I wish to do in this chap-ter would have been next to impossible. Seeing Salvation is an art exhibition I did not visit, taking place in London while I was a strug-gling graduate student living over 5,000 miles away in Los Angeles. But today, technology allows me to view the exhibition on video, as well as delight in gazing at stunning full color digital reproductions of the ...
5. Beautiful Differences
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I t is fitting to celebrate the mingling of art and the religious in their common work of facilitating revelatory wonder-making. Seeing Salvation was a significant achievement as it brought the religious and artistic together in the midst of the aggressively secular environment of twenty-first century London.1 The exhibition made evident renewal and appreciation, not only of classic religious works but of surpris-...
6. Beyond Boundaries and Unknowable Otherness
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In contemporary terms, the predominant metaphor for the method of engagement between art and religion is “intersection,”1 a word that has become quite popular to describe many diverse efforts of inter-disciplinary studies.2 Yet in relation to art and religion, even intersec-tion may be too generous of a concept. Some contemporary scholars argue that although the need for more interaction between art and reli-...
7. The Impossible Definition
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T o define art seems impossible because “art” is a quintessentially contested statement and it is art’s nature to be thus.1 Definitions become static, creating sets of criteria that are then used to judge some-thing as or as not something else. Because everything about the process of defining is conditioned by context and circumstance we need to be suspicious of it. However, if the very ambiguity of art is allowed to ...
8. Beauty in Turmoil
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T he exploration of the arts as effective bridges to experiences of revelatory wonder has at its core a hope. The hope is that human life may be more fully permeated with truth, goodness, and beauty. In the communities I belong to, this hope is not born of an improbable idealism, but of the experiences of beauty, truth, and good-ness that are vitally present around us. Because this hope is nurtured ...
9. The Bridge to Wonder Is Ours to Build
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I once sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge. When I was in college, a friend and I launched a laughably small and fragile catamaran out on the legendary San Francisco Bay. When we finally reached the bridge, we sat in awe of its towers rising above us over seven-hundred feet (about the size of a fifty-story building).1The enormity of the bridge was breathtaking, but even more so was its ...
10. Glimpses and Destellos
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On a visit to Israel in my twenties, I recall the wonder of waiting for sunrise on a hill. We were sitting in the dark so we could film the beginnings of the day for a documentary. As dawn slowly trans-formed the landscape, I noticed a lone figure in the clearing beneath us, a woman, her skirts gathered up as she made her way between two tents barely silhouetted against the coming light. I stood on the hillside, ...
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Page Count: 250
Illustrations: 16 color image signature, 4 b/w illustrations
Publication Year: 2012