""Performing the Sacred" is written as a dialogue, alternating chapters between a theologian and a theatre artist. This is a more contemporary, and si""Performing the Sacred" is written as a dialogue, alternating chapters between a theologian and a theatre artist. This is a more contemporary, and significantly more accessible, installment to the canon of work on theo-dramatics, and focuses on application rather than new theory. As a result, there really isn't any new theological ground covered here. What the authors do well, however, is synthesize existing sources into a cohesive whole for a modern intersection of theology and theatre.
Of course, I'm immediately fascinated by interdisciplinary work, and this is no exception. Savidge's history of theatre's interaction with the institution of the Church is thorough, though unfortunately written in a somewhat dry and academic tone. Ironically, Johnson's theological discussion is written in a more lively tone, and is just as thorough. Both interact not only with previous modern discussion in the theo-dramatic canon (such as Harris' "Theatre and Incarnation"), but also with such theological greats as Tillich and Kierkegaard, as well as working through the philosophical underpinning of Plato and Tertullian, and how these thinkers have impacted the theatrical arts.
Johnson identifies three theological components of theatre: incarnation, community, and presence. Again, the thought here is not drastically new for anyone who has read any theological treatments of theatre previously. What Savidge and Johnson do, however, is speak to the modern implications of this thought. The biggest take-away for me by far is the argument to the higher validity of theatre over more "virtual" arts (such as streaming media, or even film and television). The authors argue, rightfully, that the substance level of most television programming is not only far inferior to theatre, but also loses effectiveness in becoming an imitation of a more real event, in the way that speaking with someone face-to-face is more real and conducive to good communication than is a phone conversation. Thus, theatre is always more real an event than film or television, because an audience interacts with a theatrical performance in a manner that makes each performance unique. This is accomplished because the performers are present in the same space as the audience. The only aspect of this throught process that I find to be problematic is that film and television are not entirely vacuous, and good art exists in both mediums. The authors almost leave the reader with the impression that both are forever inferior to theatre. Also problematic is established rhetorical theory that claims an observer of any static artwork forever alters both the work and themselves. However, in fairness to the authors, the implied superiority of theatre that I mention is just that: implied; it is never overtly stated and the book does not leave room to treat the issue at length.
I found the final chapters a bit prescriptive at times, but thought provoking overall, for both artists active in the theatre, as well as any person of faith engaging with theatre from the audience.
Anyone with a theological bent would find this book informative, especially if he/she has not explored the intersection of theology and theatre before, in which case this book is very readable and will provide you with a launching point and direction for deeper reading. Any theatre artist who is practicing from a faith-informed worldview will appreciate this book as well. Slightly academic, but still a good read, and worth having on your shelf. ...more
This is a quick read, and certainly a much more accessible introduction to Barth's thought that the infamous and multi-volumed Church Dogmatics. VeryThis is a quick read, and certainly a much more accessible introduction to Barth's thought that the infamous and multi-volumed Church Dogmatics. Very early in the three essays we see Barth's confusion in the midst of theological history: he claims that Kierkegaard had "no influence" on 19th century theology, yet most historians would agree that, when Barth wrote his commentary on Romans that launched the movement of neo-orthodoxy, he was standing on Kierkegaard's shoulders. He spends a significant amount of the essays defending his definition of evangelical theology and what he calls the "humanity" of God. However, in his discussion of God's human-ness, he lapses into the process theology error of claiming that God needs humans in such a way that He cannot function without them. He also articulates his lapse into universalism, as well as hinting at his famous non-answers to the accusations in this regard by peers. All in all, an easy read by Barth's standards, but I find his thought to be seriously wanting. What I appreciated most is his closing to the essays, in which he encouraged his audience to approach the discipline of theology accepting each other's faults in thought while working toward a common goal (essentially, the edification of the saints), and not tearing each other down. Those closing paragraphs earned a star of this rating in and of themselves, and is a call that all in the discipline of theology today would do well to take to heart. ...more
I found it actually refreshing to read theology done well in a postmodern...or, as Taylor labels it, "postsecular"...milieu. He discusses thoroughly tI found it actually refreshing to read theology done well in a postmodern...or, as Taylor labels it, "postsecular"...milieu. He discusses thoroughly the issues facing theology in the information and entertainment age, as faith sheds the "garment" of religion, incorporating both classical theological thought such as Bonhoeffer and Schleirmacher, as well as prevalent trends in current theological thought. He spares no critique in doing so, but critiques fairly. His artistic analysis of media expression as informed by a communal and public theology is substantive and well-prepared. There are few topics Taylor does not discuss here, from the phenomenon of celebrity to the problem of fundamentalism. All are addressed well.
Many other volumes that propose a "practical" approach to theology fail to deliver. Taylor does not fall into this trap, because he does not propose a bullet-list of specific strategies. Instead, he calls for an acceptance of the changing theological winds of our time, and a willingness to follow them as the new face of spirituality develops.
If postmodern culture, artistic expression, and the theology done therein lie within your interests, then this book should be placed on your shelf. ...more
An amazing look into Bonhoeffer's tragically abbreviated life, and the theological thought he didn't live long enough to fully flesh out. This editionAn amazing look into Bonhoeffer's tragically abbreviated life, and the theological thought he didn't live long enough to fully flesh out. This edition contains additional letters to his mentor, Eberhard Bethge, as well as an appendix that re-prints an article for Union Theological Seminary written by his fiance after his execution. That appendix was probably the most difficult for me to read. Bonhoeffer hints at wrestling with the decision that landed him in the Nazi prison here. For anyone interested in his theological thought or life, this must be on your shelf. ...more
The author lays out some very positive points, especially in the first four chapters. Having come from the background that I have, I appreciate his veThe author lays out some very positive points, especially in the first four chapters. Having come from the background that I have, I appreciate his very valid assertion that Western culture values extroversion as a holy standard, and thus so does the Western church. Many of the ways in which he describes this standard failing introverted personalities are accurate, and I found myself resonating with his words due to very recent experiences.
Unfortunately, by about chapter 5, the author becomes underhanded. Beginning the chapter by claiming that it was the chapter he didn't want to write, and then apparently feeling he has earned the reader's trust, he begins to do the politcal pastor thing and "encourage" introverts to take on more extroverted roles. I will say, however, that he continues to make valid observations in this chapter.
The following chapters on leadership resulted in my groaning, skipping pages, or simply slamming the book down in frustration. The author's ecclesiological bent is obviously still with the church growth movement, and thus his leadership advice is that of a CEO, which I find fundamentally incompatible with the Church. The books closes dry...doesn't even leave an aftertaste.
All-in-all, a decent read. Take the good and leave the bad, as with anything else. ...more
Seldom do I encounter moments when I openly disagree with Lewis' thought, but I did with his lack of pacifism in "Learning in War Time.""The Weight ofSeldom do I encounter moments when I openly disagree with Lewis' thought, but I did with his lack of pacifism in "Learning in War Time.""The Weight of Glory" and "The Inner Ring" are themselves worth the read. ...more
Belcher makes a promise he doesn't keep, and the end result is noise that smacks of the "pastoral theology" books that were required reading in grad sBelcher makes a promise he doesn't keep, and the end result is noise that smacks of the "pastoral theology" books that were required reading in grad school. What Belcher does well here is accurately portray a deep division in Western Christianity. While he over-simplifies in his categories of "traditional" and "emergent," I think he does so in the interest of expediency, which I understand. He accurately analyzes the two sides of the debate, pulling no punches in their weaknesses and sparing no praise in their strengths. Where Belcher falls short is his presentation of a "third way," to which he refers as "deep church." His proposal, however, seems to still be moored in the institutionalized, business-model approach of the church growth movement, and trapped in denominationalism. I found this to be disappointing, and naive to think that any proposal supporting denominationalism and the Western concept of a corporation-style religion to be part of the solution. I would argue that it is, in fact, part of the problem. ...more