My Redeemer Presbyterian NYC Arts Talk

New York City in yellow
This coming Friday I will have the privilege of speaking at a Redeemer Presbyterian Church InterArts Fellowship event. The event will take place at St. Michael's Church (that would be New York City's St. Michael's), starting at 7:00 pm. I will have the distinct honor of sharing the stage with Gordon Fee. Dr. Fee, a New Testament scholar, was one of my favorite professors at Regent College. It'll be great fun to partner with him. The event is open to the public. See here for details of the event.

The title of my talk is "Art, the Spirit, Fig Trees and the Problem of Abundance." My general aim will be to persuade my listeners that the distinctive excesses which we experience in the arts function as a sign of the Spirit’s work in the world. I will explore a pattern in Scripture, I will unpack briefly how the arts generate "excesses," and I will suggest a way in which this idea of excess might foster a virtuous mission in the world.  All in 40 minutes!

A practical aim will be to wonder out loud whether the arts, rightly practiced, might not disciple us to become people marked by God’s economy of abundance precisely because they bring us into a participation of Christ’s “grace piled on top of grace” (John 1:16).

I would certainly hope that we might catch a glimpse of the way the experience of art could become a welcome antidote to the peculiar ailments that beset many Americans: whether an exhaustion generated by a grinding drivenness or a sense of alienation that many feel in their relationships.

A pastoral aim will be to encourage artists in the specific calling which God has entrusted to them.

If you're in the area, please feel free to drop in.

I've copied here three statements that have been particularly helpful as I prepare my talk. I follow them with a video that says: Yes, David wishes he were a hip hop guy. (Thank you, Bruce.) Pics are from my visit in 2003.

New York City in grey

Reinhard Hütter on creation as overflow: “Creation is the overflow of God’s abundant love as reflected in the inner life of the triune God” (164, citation from “Creation ex Nihilo: Promise of the Gift,” Currents in Theology and Mission 19.2 (1992): 92).

Stanley Hauerwas on learning how to see: “Both love and great art show us our world with a clarity which startles us because we are not used to looking at the real world at all” (“The Significance of Vision: Toward an Aesthetic Ethic,” 39).

Sam Wells' summary of the history of the world: “It is a story of enough becoming not enough becoming too much” (God’s Companions: Reimagining Christian Ethics, 19).


Oh, I do hope that you and PJ were dancing in the streets singing "these streets will make you feel brand new / big lights will inspire you"

let's hear it for NEW YORK!! (love the photos, btw)
Man O Man!!! Gotta share that video.
Hope you had a good time in NYC - it was a great weekend to be there. Hope to catch you next time.
Unknown said…
I enjoyed hearing you speak so much. I met you briefly and said hi. I would have given you my business card so that you could check out my work but I didn't have any on me but you can check out my website which is
Hope you had a good time in NY.
take care, God bless you
Tamara: so great to see you last Friday. Thanks for driving in to the city.

Kathleen: next time indeed.

Walter: great to meet you and thanks for sharing your work.
Epic said…
I have often wondered if the experience of excess in worship is indicative of the Spirit, or of hype. I’ve found two trains of thought in my head. They seem to be on a collision course but never collide. One thought claims the excesses experienced in worship are not grounded in a movement of the Spirit. This train is labeled “God’s transcendence”. The other thought claims worship experiences of excesses are indeed indicative of the Spirit’s movement. This train is labeled “God’s immanence”.

I feel much tension between the two ideas. It seems both have enough validity to remain valid, yet both have enough potential for disaster (if valued exclusively). I would have loved to hear your thoughts, it seems balancing the two requires finesse. Considering what I've read, you have a skill with topics requiring finesse... :)
Marc, good questions. Everything, as per usual, depends on how we define our terms and what we aim to argue. I think my talk was recorded. If it can be found online, I'll let you know.

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