Religion and the arts have always had a symbiotic relationship. Religions have relied upon artists to illustrate and interpret sacred stories and beliefs to communities of faith. Musicians, composers and singers have given voice to the teachings of holy texts. Authors and poets have given expression to ancient narratives in ways that have captivated new generations of readers. In our contemporary world, that mutually beneficial relationship between religion and the arts has often been separated or even eliminated.
This collection of material re-imagines what collaboration between religion and the arts might mean. For congregations and clergy, the questions are: how do you engage the arts in worship, preaching and teaching, and how do you benefit from an ongoing dialogue with the creative community? How do artists find inspiration from sacred texts that might be a source of creativity and meaning-making for congregants? Might a conversation about the arts invite others, otherwise uninterested in religion, into your faith community?
For artists, the questions are: how do you find inspiration from sacred text and how might reflecting on those texts enrich your own spirituality and inform the work you create?
What follows are resources taken from the Religion, Spirituality, and the Arts Seminar. The seminar focused on a single biblical narrative and viewed it through religious interpretation, music, literature, and visual art. This compilation provides the highlights of those discussions in a form that is adaptable to any congregational setting. There are links to musical compositions, literature, paintings, and sculptures. You may choose to use as little or as much as fits your needs and interests.
This collection looks beyond the dogmatic interpretations of scripture that have at times been sources of intolerance. It offers an open and broad understanding of the biblical narrative suggesting that a variety of interpretations can exist side by side and invites readers and students to establish personal connections with that sacred text. We hope that this material will provide opportunities for meaningful and open conversations about biblical stories, helping congregants read their lives into the text in a way that is inclusive of others.
More information on Religion, Spirituality, and the Arts, including videos of conversations with artists, is available at www.butler.edu/religion-arts.
Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
Director, Religion, Spirituality, and the Arts
Butler University and Christian Theological Seminary