True religion, John Donne (1572-1631) once wrote, is not to be found “either in a painted Church, on one side, or in a naked Church on another; a Church in a Dropsie, overflowne with Ceremonies, or a Church in a Consumption, for want of such Ceremonies, as the primitive Church found usefull and beneficiall for the advancing of the glory of God, and the devotion of the Congregation” (cited in Horton Davies, Worship and Theology in England, Bk. 1, vol. 2, 151). My hunch, and a somewhat informed hunch I guess, is that this was easier said than done.
This Sunday I fly to Pittsburgh. It's been five years since I last taught a winter intensive at Trinity School for Ministry, and this time they've invited me back to teach a course on Anglicanism and the arts with a view to worship and mission.
Before I copy a portion of the syllabus here (in case you're curious), I want to throw out a question. While I've researched historical models (specifically in the 16th and 17th centuries) and have visited churches here and there, I can't say that I have a lot of concrete data on the range of what Episcopal or Anglican churches are actually doing with the arts. In that light:
2. Are there names of pastors, church leaders or artists that you think I should track down with this question?
Many thanks for any good leads you might send my way.
Here then is some of what I wish to accomplish next week.
THREE OVERARCHING OBJECTIVES
1. To discern how theology in the context of our ecclesial life takes an artistic shape. Where you see art, I want to help you see theology.
2. To discern the ways in which art in an ecclesial context forms us theologically, for better or for worse. Where you see theological content, I want to help you see its artistic form.
3. To discover ways in which we as church leaders can employ the arts in such a way that they form our congregations, both theologically and practically, into the image of the Triune God. Where art is forming us poorly, I want to help us see how it can form us trinitarianly.
COURSE OUTLINE (a few subjects covered)
1. Monday: The Laudian experiment. Art and architecture. Creation and Christology. The aesthetics and ethics of space. Richard Hooker as model Anglican: towards a “sensible beauty.”
2. Tuesday: Psalms and music, both ancient and new. Anthropology and pneumatology. The aim of singing toward the whole counsel of God, such that our emotions are well-ordered and we learn how to ongoingly sing what the psalms call a "new song."
3. Wednesday: Artful preaching and narrative hermeneutics. The drama of our bodies. How liturgical art coordinated to the liturgical calendar can form us into the narrative of Christ's life.
4. Thursday: Shepherding artists. Ministering to artists in the fold, on the edge of the fold and far from the fold. The virtues and practices of a flourishing artist.
5. Friday: Jeremy Begbie on music, theology and other very inspiring things. Art and the mission of the church: a hopeful, multifaceted vision.
Needless to say, it will not be a boring week in the life and times of David Taylor, and, by God's grace, of those who participate in the class too. We'll take your prayers for a good learning experience and for the Spirit to reconfigure my plan however is needful.
Since I began with Donne, I shall end with Donne. Here is one of the most exquisite descriptions of the preacher's calling.
“Not only is the preacher a husband to his congregation: he is an archer, a watchman, a trumpeter, a harmonious charmer; he possesses the most desirable qualities of a lion, an ox, an eagle, and a man; he is an earthquake, a son of thunder, the fall of waters, the roaring of a lion.”