One of our great joys, we often say, is setting up book displays for organizations who value our curating and service in providing resources as intregal to their educational events at conferences and gatherings. We were treated so well as we shipped stuff to the Christian Legal Society for their national event a few weeks ago and it was an honor to serve them — their conference is one of our yearly highlights and it was sad not to be there with them. CCO, the campus ministry out of Pittsburgh, continues to partner with us to resource their staff and students. What fun it was doing a couple of video workshops about books for a UCC pastor’s event last month. Maintaining these networks of friends and colleagues in so many places has been sustaining for us. Thanks to so many who have prayed and partnered with us in so many encouraging ways.
We have especially enjoyed serving culture creatives and artists over the years at national events like IAM (the International Arts Movement) and CIVA (Christians in the Visual Arts.) CIVA just had their biannual national gathering and by all accounts it was spectacular. Although we were not there, we had a person on site in Austin helping us out by selling books for them — we are not only grateful for the opportunity but glad for all the good feedback from participants. Thanks to those who wrote encouraging notes and inquired about our small role in this big event. We love CIVA.
Due to snafu upon snafu, not all of the books we intended to show and sell at the event made it to the book display in Texas.
Their loss is your gain, though, as we are now having a 4-Day FLASH SALE with EXTRA DISCOUNTS on some wonderful books about faith and the arts. These are not all we have (of course) nor are they dogs we’re trying to get rid of. As you can see below, these are top quality, often quite remarkable volumes that we just have a too many copies of right now due to the book table fiasco.
We’re going to try to get some great books to you (especially if you, like us, didn’t feel safe travelling to Covid-dangerous Texas.) For the next four days (ending November 18, 2021 at midnight EST) we have these books on sale, while supplies last, at 30% off.
After Thursday the 18th they will revert to our more customary BookNotes 20% off, which is still an excellent bargain. But this quickie flash sale is the best price you’re going to find on some of these specialized titles.
You better order right away, though, as the 30% OFF deal is only good on these while supplies last. And in any event, is over soon. Let’s do this!
DON’T MISS MY COMMENTS AT THE END ON THREE NEW BOOKS PUBLISHED BY THE GOOD FOLKS AT SQUARE HALO BOOKS, ONE BY MALCOM GUITE, ONE ABOUT J.R.R. TOLKIEN’S ART. THESE ARE 30% OFF, TOO, UNTIL THURSDAY.
FOUR DAY FLASH SALE – WHILE SUPPLIES LAST.
30% OFF GOOD UNTIL NOVEMBER 18, 2021.
As always, you an order by using the oder link at the bottom of this column that takes you to the Heats & Minds Bookstore secure webpage order form. Or, give us all at the number shown at the end. We are grateful for a chance to serve you.
Art + Faith: A Theology of Making Makoto Fujimura (Yale University Press) $26.00 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $18.20
We have reviewed this at BookNotes and it is one of the more significant books in this field in recent years. A must-read from Yale University Press, it has endorsements from art critics and important reviewers as well as thoughtful blurbs by Rowan Williams, Miroslav Golf, Christian Wiman and Martin Scorsese. There’s a nice foreword by N.T. Wright, too.
We have been eager to promote this far and wide.
Refractions: A Journey of Faith, Art, and Culture Makoto Fujimura (NavPress) $24.99 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $17.49
This was Mr Fujimura’s first book, expertly designed as a very handsome paperback and nicely illustrated, composed of his reflective essays — refractions, Fujumura calls them — many from his experiences in New York after 9-11. Some of it is exquisitely moving.
If you don’t have this, it is a wonderful collection and makes a very nice gift.
Culture Care: Reconnecting with Beauty for Our Common Life Makoto Fujimura (IVP) $17.00 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $11.90
This may be the most general and wide-ranging Mako has written, certainly about the arts and why we need a network and movement of culture-shaping, arts appreciating folks who steward well the possibilities of God’s creation — for the sake of our neighbors and the flourishing of our society. Yes, the subtitle says it really well — this invites us to cultivate a culture that cares about beauty for the common good. I think this is a wonderful, lovely read, inspiring for anyone, necessary, even, for the building of a good society. Can we celebrate, as Steve Garber sometimes put it, “common grace for the common good”?
Listen to this from Cherie Harder, the President of The Trinity Forum:
In his generous and inspiring work Culture Care, artist Mako Fujimura suggests that our common culture is not a territory to be captured, but a garden to be cultivated, needing the nourishment of creativity, community, connection, and the generation of beauty. It is a grace-filled call to beat swords into plowshares and take up the work of tilling our common garden.
For the Beauty of the Church: Casting a Vision for the Arts edited by W. David O. Taylor with a foreword by Luci Shaw (Baker Books) $20.00 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $14.00
A great introduction to this whole conversation, especially for why church folk should care. Unlike most of the book listed on sale here, this is mostly not by artists as such. There are artful and passionate pieces here by Eugene Peterson, Andy Crouch, Lauren Winner, John Witvliet, Barbara Nicholas and more. A must-have, fun and hopeful book, which Marva Dawn called “urgently needed” and William Dyrness called “explosive.”
It Was Good: Making Art to the Glory of God edited by Ned Bustard (Square Halo Books) $24.99 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $17.49
This is regularly sold at nearly every conference we attend as we usually take it to show — it is such a rich anthology of all sorts of writers, pastors (for instance,Tim Keller), artists of various sorts (it included Mako Fujimura’s first published piece, by the way and a great piece by Mary McCleary), theologians, critics, collectors, patrons… It Was Good: Making Art looks at artmaking and aesthetics and creativity and offers all sorts of good reflective stuff on tone and color and light and practice and truthfulness and craftsmanship and collaboration and more. (For the record, I think Adrienne Chaplin’s chapter on “beauty” is one of the more important essays about this vexing topic, and James Romaine of the notion of “creativity” is very important as well.) Not for young beginners, maybe, but it is not heavy or academic, either. Pitch perfect, full of great stuff, an edifying book for nearly anyone. If you are interested in the arts as a non-artist, I’d highly recommend this. If you are just getting into this whole filed, it’s a must. If you want to encourage artists actually doing art making, give them this.
Rainbows for the Fallen World Calvin Seerveld (Toronto Tuppence Press) $35.00 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $24.50
We have gone on record for years now saying that this is one of the most important books in this field and it is routinely cited and footnoted, by scholars in the disciplines of art history or those striving to think Christianly in the heady field of philosophical aesthetics. And it is often nearly venerated by working artists who have found deep inspiration in it’s read and re-read pages. Rainbows… is written with Cal’s deep and prophetic Biblical insight and spiritual verve; he is a tad eccentric (he makes up words, I think) and offers some of the most electrifying prose about this topic — heck, about any topic — I have read in my life. We’ve been proud to know him a bit and glad to regularly promote his many books. This is one of those books that, agree or not — like it or not, even — you simply must have if you are developing a library in this whole field. We’re happy to have this, and would love to talk further about Seerveld’s allusive, imaginative, suggestion-rich insights about aesthetic life and redemptive art in a broken world.
(I must say, there is a chapter in a book described below, from a CIVA conference a few years ago, Contemporary Art and the Church: A Conversation Between Two Worlds where Cal and his friend, philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff, are in conversation, and it is a joy to listen in to that important conversation. Seerveld, by the way, has a short “letter to a modern artist” in the back of Michael Card’s lovely IVP book, Scribbling in the Sand: Christ and Creativity.)
Here is an older BookNotes post that describes other significant Seerveld books.
Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art Madeleine L’Engle (Convergent Books) $16.00 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $11.20
Originally published by Luci and Harold Shaw in 1980, this book has been esteemed and treasured by thousands of artists and art connoisseurs, and many who just love the beautiful and thoughtful prose of the great writer and advocate for a deeply ecumenical but Biblically Christian vision. Unlike many books in this space that are written by systematic theologians or philosophers or visual arts, Madeleine was a poet, writer, librarian, Episcopal lay woman and outspoken advocate for an open-minded and big hearted view of the universe and God’s wonder to be seen all around; it remains a classic, mixing memoir and reflection making a gentle for a very intentional effort, but with a light touch, to allow deep spiritual truths to inform her allusive and creative writing. In telling us how inspiration works for her as a writer, we all can take new courage, rooted well in the past and yet current, without being trendy or faddish. This book is another that is in the top handful of must-have resources for anyone reading in this field of faith and the artful life. This recent edition has a very nice preface by YA novelist Sara Zarr.
Art & Soul: Signposts for Christians in the Arts Hilary Brand & Adrienne Chaplin (Piquant / IVP Academic) $38.00 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $26.60
For many years I highlighted this as one of the top three or four must-read books for those serious about a uniquely Christian approach to this creative field. More and more have come out in recent years — at CIVA this year, one of the speakers in celebrating the headway we are making in helping church folks appreciate the arts and artist, said, “Did you see that book table in the lobby?” Still, this is a classic because it not only is delightfully written and so very interesting and substantial, but because it offers a very healthy blend of what we might call theory and practice. Dr. Adrienne Chaplin (who studied in Amsterdam) took over for a while Calvin Seerveld’s legendary chair in aesthetics at the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto and knows in her bones a deeply Christian theoretical framework. Hilary Brand is a working artist and free lance photographer and writer. Together, they have made this book, first done in the UK, a master class in at least one school of thought about Christian thinking and practice.
Calvin Seerveld writes in a rare foreword, “Everything about this book by Hilary Brand and Adrienne Chaplin rings true.” He says it is written with verve and “sparkles with inside artistic knowledge and simultaneously breaths a generous love for the reader.”
Discovering God Through the Arts: How We Can Grow Closer to God by Appreciating Beauty & Creativity Terry Glaspey (Moody Press) $16.99 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $11.89
What a great, easy-to-read, well-informed and very inspiring book! It is deal for those who need to be invited into this spiritual practice of gazing at creation, or visual art, or listening to music or reading poems (etc.) as an avenue to transformational spiritual formation and whole-life discipleship. From nurturing wonder to cultivating empathy to learning to pray, good art can be helpful as we attend and receive. This colorful book is a treasure and reasonably priced before our discount. Written by a friend and Hearts & Minds fan, we are so happy to recommend Terry Glaspey’s Discovering God Through the Arts. We will be naming this as one of our favorite books of the year.
Naming the Animals: An Invitation to Creativity Stephen Roach with Ned Bustard (Square Halo Books) $11.99 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $8.39
Did you see our earlier review of this fabulous, recent, compact sized book? We raved about how it is so readable and intersting, offering a solid and reliable theological basis for seeing our human calling made in God’s image. Of being creative. Naturally, this is good for young artists — or older ones for that matter — but I think it is a key idea for anyone’s Christian worldview, knowing the implications of this key human task. We happily recommend to one and all.
Van Gogh’s Second Gift: A Spiritual Path to Deeper Creativity Cliff Edwards (Broadleaf Books) $19.99 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $13.99
Again, this is one we’ve highlighted at a previous BookNotes. It is a very handsome compact sized paperback — Broadleaf Books does these compact sized paperbacks as well as anybody in the business — and this wonderfully explores his little-used letters as a key to understanding our own creative processes. This is a treasure, very nicely done and very sweetly interesting.
The Mystery of Art: Becoming an Artist in the Image of God Jonathan Jackson (Ancient Faith) $16.95 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $11.87
Have you watched the TV series Nashville? Jonathan Jackson plays the charming and ethical Avery and, yes, he is an Orthodox Christian (in Nashville, encouraged there by Charlie Peacock & And Ashworth’s ArtHouse ministry.) This is one of the best short and readable books on faith and the arts I’ve read in a while and highly recommend it. For those not familiar with the riches of the Orthodox theology and spirituality as catalyst for creative, this will be a great and holy initiation. He is a cultural creative, visual artist and yet is mostly known as an actor. Nice.
Art for God’s Sake: A Call to Recover the Arts Philip Graham Ryken (Crossway) $6.99 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $4.89
This is a standard contemporary book from an evangelical and Reformed leader (now the President of Wheaton College) who has long encouraged artists and the calling to be cultural caretakers. This is short, sweet, solid, and inspiring. A prefect starter book for aspiring artists or anyone who needs a Bible-based perspective on why the church should care about the arts.
Art Needs No Justification Hans R, Rookmaaker (Regent College Press) $9.95 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $6.97
Half a century ago, Dutch philosopher, art historian, and jazz music collector Hans Rookmaaker influenced — through long walks and talks— the youth-oriented, missionary-minded lay philosopher and Reformed thinker Francis Schaeffer. Schaffer inspired a generation of aspiring artists and cultural critics to relate evangelical faith to philosophical and cultural trends, watching foreign films and avant-garde music and studying art history before it was acceptable (let alone understood as helpful) in most conservative American church circles. This little volume, Art Needs No Justification was one of Hans Rookmaaker’s famous manifestos, as applicable to day as then.
The God of the Garden: Thoughts on Creation, Culture, and the Kingdom Andrew Peterson (B+H) $17.99 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $12.59
I hope you know Andrew Peterson’s important work as founder of Rabbit Room and Rabbit Room Press, his great singer-songwriter music recordings, his fiction, and (lately, beekeeping.) You should know of his very nice Adorning the Dark: Thoughts on Community, Calling, and the Mystery of Making which is a lovely and accesible reflection on discerning ones calling, particularly as an artist. This new one, The God of the Garden continues that conversation with Peterson sharing more of his own story, his sense of calling to point to God’s Kingdom ways by working in the creative arts. Does God’s glory shine through creation and can art help us stand in great wonder?
The Sound of Life’s Unspeakable Beauty Martin Schleske, translated by Janet Gesme, with photographs by Donata Wenders (Eerdmans) $24.99 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $17.49
Had we not had the Covid quarantining and pandemic disasters last year, this would have surely been listed as one of our Best Books of 2020 and even now, in 2021, it feels new and important. Done on heavy stock paper in a solid hardback, its heft somehow feels right in the hand, revealing that this is a very weighty books, beautiful. It is nicely crafted with especially good writing and artful black and white photos enhancing the moving prose, but the substance of the story is what makes this a thoroughly unique book. As I have explained in detail at previous BookNotes, Mr. Schleske is a renowned German luthier and this is about his craft of selecting and working with wood, wood he selects with his eye and ear for beauty. What creative and artful craftsmanship it takes to create a beautiful violin or viola! What insight it takes to write about it so it might inspire believer and nonbeliever alike, showing how his Biblical faith illuminates his work with the wood, his exploration into unspeakable beauty. This book is nothing short of a gift, a treasure, a guide to the goodness of aesthetic life opened up for human service.
Art and Theology in Ecumenical Perspective edited by Timothy Verdon (Mount Tabor Books/Paraclete Press) $34.99 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $24.49
We were honored to tell people about this several years ago at BookNotes when we explain that it is scholarly and ecumenical, mostly drawing on European Roman Catholic scholars of art and theological aesthetics. This is a big, hefty volume, a great gift for those who value these kinds of major works. There are serious essays and lavish art. We are grateful for the Mount Tabor imprint of art books that Parcelete Press sells, and we have them all!
We have long appreciated this Latino Catholic scholar, himself a gracious wounded healer, asking the big questions (as the publisher puts it), “What is the theological significance of art? Why has the Church always encouraged the arts? What is so profoundly human about the arts? The answer to these questions involves a series of “sketches,” a mixed spiritual/theological reflection on various works of art written in a poetic style that should appeal to the professional theologian but is aimed at the informed public. The reflections explore the relationship between the spiritual and the arts in its many dimensions.”
Alejandro García-Rivera is more systematic than most theologians because he includes unifying appreciation of imagery and symbols in the living system of a whole faith as well as analysis of textual parts which preoccupy and divide many theologies. His approach promises insightful reconciliation by viewing art works like the Vietnam Memorial while attending to the aesthetics of doctrines like justification rather than by arguing from previous linguistic misunderstandings which separate Christians. His theology of art invites confessing, forgiving, and living with wounded innocence as creative presence in mystery more than memory. — Doug Adams, Professor of Christianity and Arts, Pacific School of Religion and Graduate Theological Union
By the way, get this: Dr. Garcias-Rivera received his doctorate in theology from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and holds degrees in physics from Ohio State University and Miami University. The author of numerous articles and winner of a Catholic Press Association award, he is assistant professor of systematic theology at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. Bueno chico.
God in the Modern Wing: Viewing Art with Eyes of Faith edited by G. Walter Hansen and Cameron J. Anderson (IVP Academic) $30.00 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $21.00
This brand new book is a personal favorite and incredible in its accesible insight about modern art viewed through he lens of Christian faith. This book emerged from a CIVA-inspired lecture series at Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago that sits within walking distance of the famous Art Institute of Chicago and its fabled Modern Wing. These lectures are each by Christian experts in various schools of thought and the very artists whose work is shown there in the Art Institute’s Modern Wing. What a great example of interesting and relevant Christian education, and what a fine example of modern artists, historians, and critics serving God’s people in the local church. Some of the chapters here are by Mako Fujimura (on Marc Rothko, by the way) Steve Prince, Joel Sheesley, Linda Stratford, Lean Samuelson, Tim Lowly and Bruce Herman, to whom, with his wife Meg, the book is dedicated.
The cover, by the way, is by the modernist Piet Mondrian, a composition from 1931.
The foreword to this book by pastor Shannon Johnson Kershner and Fourth Presbyterian member Walter Hansen’s preface making a case for all of this is truly inspiring. Cam Anderson’s meaty introductory chapter putting modern art in social, cultural, religious, and philosophical context is truly worth the price of the whole book. Kudos to CIVA, IVP Academic, and First Presbyterian for this superb collaboration. Love to you all!
Placemaking and the Arts: Cultivating the Christian Life Jennifer Allen Craft (IVP Academic) $30.00 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $21.00
I have appreciated this book and recommended it often — how artists can enhance our sense of place and how a sense of place might inform localist artwork. Serious and highly recommended. One of the best in the “Studies in Theology and the Arts” series.
The endorsements have been fabulous, reminding you, I hope, that this isn’t just a quirky interest of us here at the bookstore. This really is fantastic and important.
Jeremy Begbie, in fact, says,
After a couple of generations of neglect and disinvestment, I’m delighted to see that place is being rediscovered within the Christian community as an important aspect of human flourishing. Placemaking and the Arts makes a significant contribution to this movement. In this book Craft develops a comprehensive theological framework for thinking about how the arts can help place us in time, space, and community. And she makes a convincing case for how art must play a critical role in any recovery of place. Many have expressed concern about the place of art in contemporary life; Craft helpfully extends this conversation to consider the role of art in place (and placemaking). Highly recommended.
Contemporary Art and the Church: A Conversation Between Two Worlds edited by W. David O. Taylor & Taylor Worley (IVP Academic) $30.00 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $21.00
This was the book that came out of the legendary CIVA 2015 conference and brilliant as was the event at Bethel College that year. For anyone wanting to be fluent in this urgent conversation (or understand CIVA’s recent past) no single book is more important. Kudos to those involved in that rousing CIVA event and the IVP “Studies in Theology and the Arts” series of which this a part.
Just to be fully clear, the “church” in the title means the Christian community at large, not necessarily the local congregation. That is, this is mostly not about the worship arts or liturgical use of art.
I like the sly cleverness of this great endorsement, riffing on images of a “cold war” between modern art and the faith community.
in the art world, it’s always October (October being the name of the Marxist journal that has long dominated the field). This essay collection shows that many are ready to flip the calendar to see what a new season will bring. Contemporary Art and the Church affords further evidence that glasnost (‘openness’) and perestroika (‘restructuring’) are challenging the enduring Cold War between art and religion, which requires rethinking from both sides of the divide. The authors shout in unison, ‘Tear down this wall,’ and it finally feels like 1989. – — Matthew J. Milliner, associate professor of art history, Wheaton College
The Faithful Artist: A Vision for Evangelicalism and the Arts Cameron Anderson (IVP Academic) $28.00 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $19.60
Mr. Anderson was for a while the beloved director of CIVA and this is his extraordinary manifesto, a very thorough book emerging from his life long ministry of creativity and within the arts community. A standard foundational read whether one is part of evangelicalism or not, it is a must-read. Thanks the IVP Academic doing this “Studies in Theology and the Art” set of books.
Modern Art and the Life of a Culture: The Religious Impulses of Modernism Jonathan Anderson & William Dyrness (IVP Academic) $35.00 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $24.50
Another key release which is part of the IVP Studies in Theology of the Arts series, this one offers a fresh alternative to the much-discussed and dour Modern Art and the Death of a Culture.
You should read the classic Rookmaaker book, too, and then, this. What a conversation!
The Art of New Creation: Trajectories in Theology and the Arts edited by Jeremy Begbie, Daniel Train, W. David O. Taylor (IVP Academic) $30.00 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $21.00 FORTHCOMING – DUE MARCH 2022 pre-order now
This forthcoming volume is going to offer great chapters from the breathtaking DITA10 Conference held at Duke Divinity School exploring how our understanding of the relationship between creation and new creation is informed by and reflected in the arts. I have not read any of it yet, but can’t wait. I know the great African American Pennsylvania artist Steven Prince has a chapter as does the aforementioned Jennifer Allen Craft, here paired with Norman Wirzba and loads of what look like breath-taking pieces by dancers and poets and visual artists and musicians.
“From music to painting to film, this volume brings theologians and practicing artists together to imagine God’s new creation that, as Begbie highlights, is ‘before us’ but not yet realized. This mind-bending idea begs for embodied expression, and our cultural moment—rife with fear and injustice—needs those who can transform our imaginations for a new world to come. This collection is an enlivening contribution to the theology and arts conversation, which can often be abstract in its conclusions and outcomes. Instead, we are offered perspectives revealing that the integration of theology and the arts can be a vital nexus from which to imagine God’s new creation in our broken world.” — Shannon Steed Sigler, executive director of the Brehm Center for Worship, Theology, and the Arts at Fuller Seminary
The Human Work of Art: A Theological Appraisal of Creativity and the Death of the Artist Davor Dealt (St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press) $16.00 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $11.20
The esteemed Russian Orthodox publishing house, St. Vladimir’s never ceases to surprise us with remarkable books out of their unique tradition, offering robust theology and spirituality applied to various aspects of modern life. We have stocked this for years, but never promoted it as much as we should — Dzalto is a professor of art history, religious studies, and iconography at the American University of Rome. Aristotle Papanikoulaou of Fordham University says he is “unequivocally one of the most important thinkers today in the Orthodox world.”
The Art of God: Reflections on Music, Diversity, and the Beauty in You Jimi Calhoun with a foreword by Paul Louis Metzger (Cascade Books) $21.00 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $14.70
Calhoun is an edgy artist, intercultural activist, and pastor from Austin and write vibrant, missional stuff about why art is important at the local level. Lively and even a bit provocative, this is a great read. I loved his earlier book, A Story of Rhythm and Grace about his years as a travelling bluesman, a black rocker who has played alongside music icons from Etta James to Mick Jagger, Elton John to Funkadelic, and how in many ways he experienced more grace in the music scene than in the conventional church.
Calhoun’s Art of God emerges from his years not only as a creative worker but in his leadership in the community. He is co-chair of Community Dreams, an Austin-based nonprofit serving urban youth, and a member of the Austin Interfaith Inclusion Network, which serves people living with disabilities. He is on the boards of the Interfaith Arts Council, Humanitarians for the Arts, and the Exnihilo Art Center in Deadman’s Cay, the Bahamas.
Sanctifying Art: Inviting Conversation Between Artists, Theologians, and the Church Deborah Sokolove with a foreword by Bruce Birch (Cascade Books) $24.00 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $16.80
Read this wonderful description of this book we’ve stocked routinely and are happy to tell you about:
As an artist, Deborah Sokolove has often been surprised and dismayed by the unexamined attitudes and assumptions that the church holds about how artists think and how art functions in human life. By investigating these attitudes and tying them to concrete examples, Sokolove hopes to demystify art–to bring art down to earth, where theologians, pastors, and ordinary Christians can wrestle with its meanings, participate in its processes, and understand its uses. In showing the commonalities and distinctions among the various ways that artists themselves approach their work, Sanctifying Art can help the church talk about the arts in ways that artists will recognize.
Fashion Theology Robert Covolo (Baylor University Press) $39.99 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $27.99
Dr. Covolo’s book is doubtlessly the most consistently Christian, deeply thoughtful, serious scholarship in the field of fashion studies that has ever been done. It is academic and rigorous but a heck of a lot of fun for those inclined to this sort of scholarly aesthetics. We know there are those deep into this field who have been waiting for Christianly conceived insights about aesthetics and adornment that is utterly engaged with contemporary theory.
Blurbs on the back of Covolo’s amazing book include a rave from the legendary Fiona Dieffenbacher of the Parsons School of Design. Wow.
Reluctant Partners: Art and Religion in Dialogue edited by Ena Giurscu Heller (The Gallery at the American Bible Society) $35.00 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $24.50
This elegant collection of important essays was curated as part of a show at the short-lived gallery when the American Bible Society was still in New York City. That this isn’t better known is a shame, and we’re glad to have a few left.
Bezalel’s Body: The Death of God and the Birth of Art Katie Kresser with a foreword by Bruce Herman (Cascade Books) $28.00 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $19.60
As I’ve said before, don’t let the odd title about the death of God (or the cover picture which isn’t the most appealing for my eyes, at least) throw you off This is an amazing read. CIVA elder and esteemed painter Bruce Herman wrote the wonderful forward and there are endorsing blurbs from James K. A. Smith, Matthew Milliner, Ben Quash. Whew.
A Redemptive Theology of Art: Restoring Godly Aesthetics to Doctrine and Culture David Covington (Zondervan Academic) $24.99 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $17.49
This book is one that is rooted in the world of conservative Reformed systematic theology — think Westminster Seminary, maybe — but yet has blurbs by the likes of Noel Paul Stookey and the very edgy, indie folkie due Lowland Hum. (Covington is himself a working musician, so that’s quite cool.) Some readers (I’ll admit) find it tedious while others have declared it essential and beautiful. The fabulous Old Testament scholar Tremper Longman says that Covington’s reflections are “revelatory and insightful. I strongly recommend this book not only to artists, for whom this book should be mandatory reading, but to everyone who wants Christian answers to these important questions.”
Creative Practice for Visual Artists: Time, Space, Process Kenneth Steinbach (Routledge) $44.95 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $31.47
This book on an academic publishing house is the sort that aspiring CIVA-type authors love, written, as it is, by a faith-based art prof who has interviewed bunch of working artist to discern exactly what sort of practice enhance their work. Even if this wasn’t done to God’s glory infused with a Christian imaginary, it would be a great tool for any sort of aspiring author. I know artists at CIVA were looking for it, and we’re sorry it never made it to the event. We’ve got it here at the best price anywhere.
Active Sights: Art as Social Interaction Timothy Van Laar & Leonard Diepeveen (Mayfield Publishing Company) $37.95 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $26.55
Originally designed as a thin but slightly oversized paperback supplemental text for a college course, this now out of print volume has taken on a legendary life of its own and is often talked about. Here is how the publisher describes some of what is going on in this multi-faceted study:
It explores the purposes of contemporary art and the complex interactions between art, artist, and viewer. Active Sights looks especially at how artist and viewer belief systems and the social functions of art affect the ways in which contemporary art is seen. The text includes 31 full-page illustrations of contemporary art…
Putting Art (Back) In Its Place John E. Skillen (Hendrickson Publisher) $24.95 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $17.47
I did a more extended review of this at BookNotes when it came out and it remains a key title. Notable is that the book came out of years of reflection and teaching in Orvieto Italy, as a Gordon College-related study-abroad professor and mentor.
What was the “place” of Medieval and Renaissance art? What is the relationship of the faith community and the art world, of liturgy and aesthetics? What sort of network of patrons and civic society supported the arts? What does it mean to bring art back to esteemed place within the church but also within the culture at large, from business to government? This is truly a fascinating read.
Redeeming Transcendence in the Arts: Bearing Witness to the Triune God Jeremy Begbie (Eerdmans) $18.00 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $12.60
The topic of transcendence was part of the CIVA theme this year, and this book is central to that project. Here is what the publisher says. (I reviewed it at greater length at BookNotes when it first came out.)
Many people believe that there is something transcendent about the arts, that they can awaken a profound sense of awe, wonder, and mystery, of something “beyond” this world–even for those who may have no use for conventional forms of Christianity. In this book Jeremy Begbie–a leading voice on theology and the arts–employs a biblical, Trinitarian imagination to show how Christian involvement in the arts can be shaped by the distinctive vision of God’s transcendence opened up in and through Jesus Christ.
A Peculiar Orthodoxy: Reflections on Theology and the Arts Jeremy Begbie (Baker Academic) $28.00 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $19.60
This is overly simplistic to say, but in a previous review at BookNotes I suggested that Redeeming Transcendence (above) is perhaps about the arts, through the lens of theology, and this one, A Peculiar Orthodoxy, is a bit more about theology, through the lens of the arts. If that’s muddled, as it may be, I’d say just get ‘em both. You can’t go wrong with the exquisite and brilliant Professor JB. As you can see, below, Nic Wolterstorff raves about this saying it is “state of the art.”
“Any work by Jeremy Begbie is bound to bear instruction and delight, and this one is no exception. Thinkers and writers who give equally serious consideration to theology and the arts are rare birds indeed, so it is a pleasure to see Begbie take flight once more.” — Alan Jacobs, Honors College, Baylor University
“Orthodoxy, yes, but not at all peculiar–unless it is peculiar for a person so steeped in orthodox trinitarian theology to be so richly acquainted with the arts, or peculiar for a person so richly acquainted with the arts to be so steeped in orthodox trinitarian theology. Only a person as learned and immersed as Begbie in both of these areas of human endeavor could spy the wide range of connections that he brings to light between theology and the arts, especially music, many of them connections I had never noticed, connections that I will want to think about for quite some time. Extraordinarily perceptive. And the range of reading brought into the discussion, with never-failing generosity of spirit, is amazing. This is state of the art!” — Nicholas Wolterstorff, Yale University; Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, University of Virginia
“Jeremy Begbie sets a high standard for a theological engagement with the arts. In this book, he gives an eloquent account of that standard and formulates questions that anyone working in this field must confront.” — Judith Wolfe, St. Mary’s College, University of St. Andrews
Global Arts and Christian Witness: Exegeting Culture, Translating the Message and Communicating Christ Roberta R. King (Baker Academic) $26.99 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $18.89
Part of the Mission in Global Community edited by Scott Sunquist and Amos Young, and with a great foreword by Mark Labberton, this is a fabulous scholarly resource for anyone thinking about aesthetics, indigenous culture, and the role of the arts in global mission.
By the way, if you are looking for more in this field, you should consider The Arts as Witness in Multifaith Societies edited by Roberta R. King and William Dyrness (IVP Academics; $35.00) in their excellent Missiological Engagements series.
The Art of Christian Reflection Heidi J. Hornik (Baylor University Press) $49.99 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $34.99
Professor Hornik is an art historian teaching at Baylor University in Texas. She could have easily been speaking at CIVA this year and her book is a testimony to how great art can help shape us, help us reflect, even think about contemporary issues in refreshing, ethical ways. LI truly love this well made, heavy volume. I’m not alone:
In this work, Heidi Hornik shows us how art can transform our sensitivities to contemporary moral issues and attune us to beauty and virtue that brings us closer to God. To walk with her through the visuals assembled here is to embark on what she aptly describes as a ‘pilgrimage’ – without doubt our journey will lead us far beyond the trifling. — Samuel E. Balentine, Professor of Old Testament and Director of Graduate Studies, Union Presbyterian Seminary
This stunning book by Heidi Hornik is a rich resource for Christian reflection and action. The formal and iconographic analyses of eighty carefully-chosen works of visual art are skillfully integrated with interpretations of biblical texts, important Christian habits and virtues, contemporary moral issues, and formative and liturgical practices of the church. These discussions begin with explorations of what these works of visual art mean, how they are crafted, and how they dialogue with biblical texts and other Christian contexts. But the true focus and most enduring aspects of Hornik’s book are the enlightening insights about what these works of visual art want from us, how they challenge us to respond in our daily lives as Christians. — David B. Gowler, The Chair of Religion, Oxford College of Emory University
Heidi Hornik’s book is remarkable. Both a respected scholar of Renaissance art history and an avowed Christian, she uses her historical understanding to illuminate great works of art and her religious perspective to bring these works to bear on moral, ethical, and devotional issues facing contemporary people of faith. The book is at once accessible to the layperson–both religious and art historical–and fully grounded in scholarship, and its structure allows for brief-but-focused meditations on the beautiful objects chosen, the questions they raise, and even the answers they may provide. — James Clifton, Director, Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation, and Curator, Renaissance and Baroque Painting, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
In this innovative volume, art historian Heidi Hornik highlights the rich potential visual art offers Christians as they seek to engage with contemporary ethical issues. Over eighty images are brought into fascinating dialogue with a vast array of contrasting subjects, such as forgiveness, virtual reality, vocation and pornography. Professor Hornik’s thought-provoking approach is to be warmly welcomed, opening up unexplored and fruitful territory. — Christine E. Joynes, Director, Centre for Reception History of the Bible at the University of Oxford
He Held Radical Light: The Art of Faith, the Faith of Art Christian Wiman (FSG) $23.00 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $18.40
I’m sure you know something of the story of world-renowned poet Christian Wiman — a Texan, by the way, now at Yale —perhaps through his moving, well-written memoir My Beautiful Abyss. He has a recent poetry volume we stock, a great new collection he edited, but this is his rather dense study of art, aesthetics, the power of language and his stab at relating faith and his works as an arts educator and writer. A very impressive, slender hardback.
Intruding Upon the Timeless: Meditations on Art, Faith, and Mystery Gregory Wolfe (Square Halo Books) $22.99 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $16.09
The former editor of Image and legendary pioneer of late 20th-century thinking about aesthetics, the arts, literature, criticism, poetry, and more, offers here his best short essays that appeared in Image. Brilliant at times, vital, historic, even, it has a rave on the back from Annie Dillard.
As Dillard puts it, in one of the great endorsing blurbs of all time:
Intruding Upon the Timeless takes its title from a phrase of Flannery O’Connor. That’s apt, because not since O’Conner’s Mystery and Manners has there been such bracing insight on the pile-up where art and faith collide. This book will rev your engines and propel you down the same road.
It is, by the, nicely enhanced by designer Ned Bustard making it a very, very nice second edition.
A rich edition of the lavish edition previously released as The Lion Companion to Christian Art (without the visual artwork) makes this compact compendium, featuring articles by invited experts and authorities on various aspects of the traditions of faith-infused Christian art.
Dr. Brown is the Professor Emerita of Medieval Manuscript Studies at the School of Advanced Study at the University of London and previously the Curator of Illuminated Manuscripts at the British Library. She is also a lay Canon of St. Pauls Cathedral in London.
Face to Face: Portraits of the Divine in Early Christianity Robin Margaret Jensen (Fortress Press) $34.00 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $23.80
Robin Jensen is a prolific and important Lutheran scholar, an expert on the art of the early church (she even has a book on how early Christian art reflected the tensions with the Roman Empire) and we had hoped this would have made it’s way to the CIVA book table. Have I mentioned the snafus? But here it is, and you can get it now, on sale. Yay.
Here’s the simple description of this lavish and utterly fascinating volume which include over 100 photographs of ancient, Christian (mostly) Roman era art:
Examining how God and eventually Christ are portrayed in early Christian art, Jensen explores questions of the relationship between art and theology, conflicts over idolatry and iconography, and how the Christological controversies affected the portrayals of Christ. Since much of this art comes from ancient Rome, she places her analysis in the context of the history of Roman portraiture.
Have you ever stood in front of a painting and thought What does this mean? Of course only certain sorts of visual art have specific symbols or overt metaphors and only some of those are distinctively Christian. Still, for viewing or thinking about or anyone doing this sort of sacred work, The Art of Faith is a remarkable study of interpretation and very, very interesting. Rave reviews on the back are from Jeremy Begbie, Frederica Mathewes-Green, Ed Knippers, and Gary Bradley, a gallery owner and IAM leader which should illustrate it’s great integrity and usefulness.
Visual Faith: Art, Theology, and Worship in Dialogue William Dyrness (Baker Academic) $22.00 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $15.40
Visual Faith was of the early books in the esteemed and essential “Engaging Culture” series published by Baker Academic. We have pointed to many of the books in this series as examples of how Christian faith can relate to everything from video games to film to TV to hip hop culture to theatre. But this is a stand-out, a must-read chestnut.
Dyrness advocates ‘careful historical and theological reflection’ and puts this into practice in ways that satisfy the academic mind. Most of all, however, he emerges as a theologian of the arts with a message for the churches. He offers a well-founded critique of traditional Protestant prejudice against matters visual and artistic, and he issues an inspiring challenge to follow the Spirit into richer modes of praise and worship. — Graham Birtwistle, Free University, Amsterdam
A refreshing and welcome addition to the growing discourse on a Protestant recovery of visual imagination and the need for Christians of all stripes to engage and exploit the visual arts-both in the secular marketplace and within the worshiping life of the church. —E. John Walford, Wheaton College
God in the Gallery: A Christian Embrace of Modern Art Daniel A. Siedell (Baker Academic) $26.00 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $18.20
Until the two recent books about very modern art in the IVP Studies in Theology and the Arts (see above — Contemporary Art and the Church and the brand new God in the Modern Wing) there has been no other truly essential book which navigated appreciatively and knowingly the worlds of modern art than this classic by Dan Siedell. Dan is an amazing art curator, museum scholar and a heck of a nice guy. Get this book!
None other than the esteemed and thoughtful scholar James Elkins (Chair of the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago) has written about this book, saying:
Dan Siedell is an exceptionally thoughtful and articulate observer of the very difficult intersection of religious belief and contemporary art. The book is full of unexpected and promising confluences. Here a reader will find the principal secular theorists of modernism, but this book is also ‘nourished by Nicene Christianity’ and informed by a wonderful range of authors, from Florensky, Levinas, and Wyschogrod to Seerveld, Wolterstorff, Walford, and Dyrness. This is a tremendous book, a genuine effort at dialogue in an arena marked by the near-complete absence of open exchange.
A HEARTS & MINDS CELEBRATION and TRIBUTE – HEAR YE, HEAR YE: 3 NEW ARTFUL RELEASES BY SQUARE HALO BOOKS
Lifting the Veil: Imagination and the Kingdom of God Malcolm Guite (Square Halo Books) $18.99 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $13.29
What a fabulous delight — nearly a publishing event in this space of faith and the arts — to have this lovely little book by the Hobbit-like, genius of a lit lover, poet, hymnist, liturgist, priest, historian, scholar, raconteur, essayist, and lecturer. (And Blake loving, motorcycle-riding, rock and roller, but I digress.) We could wax wild about the lovely reputation and colorful character Mr. Guite is, but we mostly need to say this. Besides a scholar of Coleridge (his book Mariner: A Theological Voyage with Samuel Taylor Coleridge is without parallel), he is a religious poet, perhaps even, at times a liturgical poet. He has championed the role of the arts in the church. We stock most of his volumes of poetry and have for quite some time. We are taking pre-orders for the eagerly awaited formatting book on poetry coming from Fortress this winter in their new “My Theology” series, called he Word Within the Words
But this, this, THIS is remarkable. Kudos (as always) to Ned Bustard and the Square Halo team who did such a job getting this collection of essays which were originally delivered at Regent College in British Columbia into a handsome, affordable paperback. The lectures are nicely enhanced and illustrated with all sorts of black and white art — wood cuts, linocuts, old prints, the sorts of stuff Ned does in his much appreciated illustrations in the two Every Moment Holy prayer books or the gleaning of art that became his curiously gruesome and yet popular Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown Ups. Yes, Ned added not only the requisite William Blake reproductions that Guite was alluding to but stunning pieces by contemporary artists like Tanja Butler and Ernst Barlach next to etches by Rembrandt and Durer. He makes very effective use of the heavily inked sketches of Edward Knippers. It is a lovely, visionary book in itself.
But the substance of Guite’s content, marvelously delivered, written only as a poet/scholar preacher can, is so good. In the opinion of one leader who has been thick in this movement of cultivating a faithful involvement in the arts, this really does sort of move the conversation into needed, fresh territory — not “integrating faith and art” but nurturing the imagination. As the back cover of Lifting the Veil promises: Transfigure Your Imagination.
The lectures delivered in Vancouver were made into chapters with titles like this:
- Imagination and the Kingdom of God
- Christ and the Artistic Imagination
- Christ and the Moral Imagination
- Christ and the Prophetic Imagine
The Epilogue starts with a line from Blake, words given to the Christians embedded in his epic poem Jerusalem.
It may be said that there is more to be said, not only about this stimulating little book but about the topic. Rev. Dr. Guite is a great person, a lively, clever speaker and a scholar of immense capacities. And he’s a poet. He has worked in this field a long time and — as this book shows in its dedication to Jeremy Begbie — he has been intentional in thinking well, informed by good colleagues. But that is no to say that he is fully right or fully righteous in this manifesto of sorts. Let’s buy this book, get it passed around, allow this poet to have this role, too, as teacher and preacher, as we all seek to do the hard thinking which might enable God to redeem our imaginations, including how we imagine the imagination. No, I’m sure Guite wouldn’t mind me inviting us to engage him well, to critique and debate. It’s that kind of books too — Ned making it so aesthetically enjoyable shouldn’t lull us into thinking that this rhyme of a not-too-ancient mariner today offers a final word. But he does offer a very good work. We commend him to you and we honor Square Halo for doing just an amazing book, so needed at just the right time.
I think this book could be a truly major release, except that indie presses from Lancaster PA — let alone a Christian ones that mostly specialize on the arts like Square Halo — aren’t as well known as they should be and simply don’t have the resources for a huge marketing campaign.
So it is us up to us, friends and lovers of the arts, caretakers of the imagination. Guite himself tips his hat to CIVA and Rabbit Room and Square Halo and others who are forming a recent renewing network of folks that he calls an “imaginative resistance who are “lifting the veil.” “The divided worlds of reason and imagination are beginning to be knit back together as C.S. Lewis long that they should be.” And buying this very book can help in that resistance to the false formulations and impoverished ways of being in God’s world of wonder. Hallelujah!
J.R.R. Tolkien and the Arts: A Theology of Subcreation edited by Ned Bustard (Square Halo Books) $18.99 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $13.29
Well, after my raving (maybe even to the tune of “Rave on John Donne” by Van Morrison) for UK poet Malcolm Guite, what more can I say to build enthusiasm for this other brand new Square Halo release, about another British storyteller? Yes, Tolkien is more famous that Guite and his Catholicism has shaped his visions of literature, storytelling, and aesthetics — not to mention helped create an amazingly generative bond with fellow Inklings as so vividly described in Diana Pavlac Glyer’s Bandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings. But in some ways he and Guite are simpatico. To see this book next to Lifting the Veil: Imagination the Kingdom of God just is a blast.
I’ll tell you this bit of goodness, too — I’m not kidding. It’s a blast to see Ned’s good linocut of JRR gracing this volume right next to his 2013 release with his lovely illustration of C.S. Lewis, C.S. Lewis and the Arts: Creativity in the Shadowlands. What a pair of books, right?
As with the Lewis volume, Square Halo commissioned a handful of great Christian scholars and lovers of Middle Earth to write pieces about the great Tolkien’s view of the creativity and the arts (and his own work as visual artist!)
Those that know even a bit about this know that Tolkien coined the phrase “sub-creation.” That is, we as humans made in God’s image are divinely inspired and tasked with being creative, but we (unlike God) do not create ex nihilism. So we are “sub” creators, under God, if you will. Little creators, if you will. It is a rich and provocative and allusive phrase, well worth exploring, as many of these contributors in J.R.R. Tolkien and the Arts: A Theology of Subcreation do. These good chapters are themselves acts of sub-creation, it seems, artful and creative and nuanced themselves. They are not oddly allusive or cryptic, and there is a certain charm and imaginative freedom here as they explore — many as theological conservative evangelicals — the nuts and bolts, and the visions and dreams, the robust mind and artistic talents of the greatest Inkling.
The book is arranged with a few chapters in each of three units or sections. As always with SHB books, even the table of contents is a nicely designed visual arrangement.
Part I is called “Art with Tolkien” and includes pieces by Charlie Starr (a well known figure among deep Lewis scholars) Bethany Ross — whose piece is worth the price of the book — the brilliant Matthew Dickerson (who gave the best lecture on Tolkien I’ve ever heard, and who here gives a shout out to Mark Heard, by the way) and the wonderful artist Matthew Clark.
Part II is called “Art By Tolkien” and moves into some directions that might be ground-breaking. “Art By Tolkien” has very impressive chapters by Christine Perrin, Billy Jarvis-Freeman, Ned Bustard, and Jennifer Trafton. How many know of the great writers visual art, his drawing and painting? This is, for many, I think, very new material and it should be celebrated.
Part III, “Art About Tolkien”, offers two pieces by Bryan Mead and John Hendrix. Mead does a quite admirable job reflection on bringing Tolkien’s stories to the silver screen (and other ruminations on Tolkien-esque aspects of film) and John Hendrix offers what might be the most complex chapter in the book, “The Glyphic Tolkien: An Illustrated Legacy of Middle Earth.” You may. Have heard us cite Hendrix as we often talk about his excellent graphic novel about Bonhoeffer, The Faithful Spy.
We should all spread the word on this new book, too — again, J.R.R. Tolkien and the Arts deserves to be very well known, widely considered, and it could be that the boutique publisher that Square Halo Books is needs some help from us. Look: if you know anybody in any of the many Tolkien clubs and societies (playful or scholarly) they should know this. If you know people that are fans, they should know this. We have to help get the word out as this is pioneering stuff, without being stuffy or arcane.
The short, ending epilogue explains a bit about how this book came about, and suggests more work that needs to be explored in what we might call Inkling studies. (She recommends digging more into the influence of George Macdonald and the eccentric Owen Barfield.) Just reading that final commission at the end reminds me how important all this is and how on-target Square Halo is to bring this to the world.
“Why did it take so long,” one scholar involved in this anthology is reported to have said, meaning that there simply hasn’t been an adequate accounting of Tolkien’s own art (other than his famous novels) and now, finally, we can see some of it and read about it. Yes, there are reflections on illustrations by JRR and for that alone some fans and aficionados will be thrilled. The chapter on his poetry (some within the LOTR) is wonderful. That thoughtful people of Christian conviction can wisely appreciate and explore and evaluate his work is such a gift. Again, this book is a vital little contribution to Tolkien studies and we have to help spread the word. Kudos and hat tipping and hoorahs to everybody involved.
Here is a line by the much cited little story of Tolkien, Leaf by Niggle:
‘It’s a gift!’ he said. He was referring to his art, and also to the result; but he was using the word quite literally.
A Compass for Deep Heaven: Navigating the C.S. Lewis Ransom Trilogy edited by Diana Pavlac Glyer and Julianne Johnson (Square Halo Books) $24.99 OUR SPECIAL 30% SALE PRICE = $17.49
Once again, like the remarkable book by Guite on the imagination and the study of Tolkien and the arts, Square Halo Books has made a contribution to religious publishing — it is not too audacious just to say publishing, Christian or otherwise — by offering a substantial (but playfully fun, mostly) anthology of pieces about one of the most popular science fiction volumes in the 20th century sci-fi canon, C.S. Lewis’s Ransom Trilogy (or, what is more popularly known as the Space Trilogy but perhaps ought to be called the Cosmic trilogy.) Perhaps not as well known as Isaac Asimov or Philip Dick or Ursula K. Le Guin and other in the highest ranks of such work, Lewis’s trilogy is beloved and respected. As Louis Markos says in the forward to A Compass for Deep Heaven, it “deserves a place in any pantheon of influential novels in the genre. Lewis understood instinctively that the impulse behind much science fiction is not so different from that of Dante or Spenser, Swift or Coleridge.”
And so, Square Halo picked up the need for a book on this and found these essays that had previously been issued from an in-house source at the Honors College of Azuza Pacific University under the name Warnings from Outer Space: Backdrops and Building Blocks of C.S. Lewis’s Science Fiction Trilogy. With some fresh input and editing, under the expert leadership of Diana Pavlac Glyer (of The Company They Keep and Bandersnatch, two important books on the collaborative creativity of the Inklings) and Julianne Johnson, this excellent collection by top notch readers and writers was released. Yes, some could hold forth on Dante or Coleridge — but most writers here are less academic, but they know the trilogy like the back of their hands. There are not mostly authors who are in the Lewis guild, so to speak, but are accessible writers who have a passion to help guide others into the riches of Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength.
A Compass for Deep Heaven is exceptionally rich and there is nothing like it in print. It will be a blast for anyone who likes the Ransom books and it will be a very good guide to anyone taking them up for the first time. (There is even a really useful glossary at the end, not to mention a great bibliography.) A few of the chapters set the stage (such as the excellent piece on myth by Julianne Johnson) but many are quite specific — who knew there was so much in these books? (Well, we all did, I suppose, but just never had anybody help us see what was hidden in plain sight.). And, naturally, there are illustrations for each chapter. Thanks to Will Kelly for enhancing our enjoying of this great and very cool paperback.
We will be telling you more in the new year, but get on your calendar now to plan (if the Covid dangers subside) a trip to Lancaster, PA, to be a part of Square Halo’s amazing INKLINGS CONFERENCE: CREATIVITY, COLLABORATION, AND COMMUNITY, February 11-12, 2022. What a line-up of amazing folks!
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