Tag: david taylor

For the Beauty of the Church

For the Beauty of the Church is book for both pastors and artists, and that’s not a marketing ploy. Both artists and pastors are present, not only as the book’s audience but also among its contributors. The book bears a sincere burden, pastoral and artistic, carried gracefully by a group of theologians, pastors, patrons, and artists, led by an articulate, winsome, and wise artist-theologian-pastor, David O. Taylor.

Theological and Practical

For the Beauty of the Church sets itself apart from many books on church and art because it offers time-tested wisdom and theologically anchored vision. As Taylor points out, we can cheapen art by reducing it to a church tool for Sundays (pragmatism) or we can cheapen church with an inadequate theology of the arts. For the Beauty of the Church steers right between both dangers, offering helpful practice and theological depth.

In the words of the introduction: The book begins at the beginning: “The Gospel.” It ends with a vision of the church’s future in the year 2058: “The Future.” In between, the book addresses key components for an integrated vision: “The Worshiper,” “The Art Patron,” “The Pastor,” “The Artist,” “The Practitioner,” and “The Dangers.”

A Sprint Through the Book

Although the book is worthy of a more extensive review, I will offer a sprint through its content. In chapter one, the delightful prose and cultural strength of Andy Crouch lays the theological foundation. Though other contributors could have done a better job at laying a biblical-theological foundation, Andy certainly delivers thoughtful biblical reflections that get the reader’s mind going in the right direction.

It’s hard to find a more qualified person to write chapter two on worship and the Arts. John Witvliet is the Director of the Calvin Institute for Christian Worship. His reflections are at once theological and practical, guiding the church away from sentimentality and idolatry in the Arts to worship that is corporate, communal, and iconic.

We get to read Laura Winner’s words in chapter three, where she offers “a patron/pew” perspective with a Jewish twist. Eugene Peterson gives sage witness to the role of artists in the church, while chapters five and six tackle the artist’s identity and practice. Finally, the dangers of artistic activity in the church are elaborated and expanded upon in chapter seven, not something you would expect in a book promoting a vision for the art in the church!

For the Beauty of the Church is a beautiful book, in more ways than one. David wants to show us how to hold art and church together without cheapening either, and he and his contributors have done just that.

Taylor on Beauty

Check out David Taylor’s new article on “Beauty” and the Gospel in Christianity Today: A Holy Longing:Beauty is the hard-to-define essence that draws people to the gospel. From the intro:

The saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” suggests that attempting to say anything concrete about the nature of beauty is a futile task. As soon as one person deems something beautiful, ten others will show up deeming it ugly. But theologians of the early and medieval church did not assume beauty was subjective. Borrowing from neo-Platonic philosophy, they believed that for something to be beautiful, it must also be good and true, with God reigning as the ultimate source of beauty. Today’s church can be thankful for people like David Taylor, who connect such esoteric reflections to the church’s mission. As the arts pastor for 12 years at Hope Chapel, a vibrant congregation in Austin, Texas, Taylor helped believer artists make the connection between worship, creativity, and community. Here, Taylor makes a similar connection between beauty and gospel proclamation to answer this year’s cvp question, “Is our gospel too small?”

The Church, church buildings, and New Urbanism

A couple months ago I posted on new urbanism, mentioning a book by Philip Bess called Till We Have Built Jerusalem. New urbanism is an American urban design movement that arose in the early 1980s intended to reform all aspects of real estate development and urban planning, from urban retrofits to suburban infill. New urbanist neighborhoods are designed to contain a diverse range of housing and jobs, and to be walkable. One takeaway from this movement is the notion that neighborhoods can be redesigned to promote community. Urban sprawl mitigates this kind of community feel.

New York City has picked up on these ideas in an effort to beautify and re-urbanize the city. David Taylor (same Taylor who put together the Transforming Culture conference) reviews Bess book in The Good City in Books and Culture. Its well worth the read.

I love the ideas coming out of New Urbanism and Philip Bess reflections. The notion that our architecture and infrastructure betrays and shapes a certain life philosophy is very important. Cities used be places where children played and people gathered for good, social interaction. Too often, urban centers are now skyscraper gardens with little social space left for anything than after hours entertainment. What would it look like for your city, your neighborhood to cultivate a more community-sensitive setting?

Then there are the architectural implications of new urbanism for churches. Should we just build buildings based on their utility or give greater considerations to aesthetics? Do more ornate and context sensitive buildings really make a difference in the quality of church communities? What about the impact of church architecture on the unchurched? A recent survey shows that unchurched folks are more inclined to visit an aesthetically pleasing church building. Hmm. What is the way forward for the evangelical Church in America given the rise of new urbanism, the insights of Bess & Taylor, and good old common sense?

New Urbanism and "The Good City"

A couple months ago I posted on new urbanism, mentioning a book by Philip Bess called Till We Have Built Jerusalem. New urbanism is an American urban design movement that arose in the early 1980s intended to reform all aspects of real estate development and urban planning, from urban retrofits to suburban infill. New urbanist neighborhoods are designed to contain a diverse range of housing and jobs, and to be walkable. One takeaway from this movement is the notion that neighborhoods can be redesigned to promote community. Urban sprawl mitigates this kind of community feel.

New York City has picked up on these ideas in an effort to beautify and re-urbanize the city. David Taylor (same Taylor who put together the Transforming Culture conference) reviews Bess book in The Good City in Books and Culture. Its well worth the read.

I love the ideas coming out of New Urbanism and Philip Bess reflections. The notion that our architecture and infrastructure betrays and shapes a certain life philosophy is very important. Cities used be places where children played and people gathered for good, social interaction. Too often, urban centers are now skyscraper gardens with little social space left for anything than after hours entertainment. What would it look like for your city, your neighborhood to cultivate a more community-sensitive setting?

Then there are the architectural implications of new urbanism for churches. Should we just build buildings based on their utility or give greater considerations to aesthetics? Do more ornate and context sensitive buildings really make a difference in the quality of church communities? What about the impact of church architecture on the unchurched? A recent survey shows that unchurched folks are more inclined to visit an aesthetically pleasing church building. Hmm. What is the way forward for the evangelical Church in America given the rise of new urbanism, the insights of Bess & Taylor, and good old common sense?