07 Jul

“Concepts create idols; only wonder comprehends anything. People kill one another over idols. Wonder makes us fall to our knees.”  St. Gregory of Nyssa (Sojourners Verse and Voice, July 6, 2011).

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!  You have set your glory above the heavens….. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what are humans that you are mindful of them…. You made them a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned them with glory and honour”  King David of Israel, (Psalm 8:1-5)

King David is lost in wonder as he writes these words, swept up in awe of God, of the universe, of humanness itself.  The loss of wonder amongst us, influenced partly by our false belief that we can understand and therefore control everything, is one of the causes of a sick society.  Maybe it’s here that the Arts can save us?  Food for thought….

David Wilson

Sophia Think Tank.


Posted by on July 7, 2011 in Arts, General



  1. Noel Buchanan, member NGV, ACMI, Morning Melodies subscriber and AB supporter.

    June 1, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    Thanks, Peter Breen, for your late night comment 11:37pm last July 7, 2011. I hear you and share what you have described when often attending the Arts Centre and other venues in Melbourne for ballet, opera, orchestra, live theatre and festival events. Melbourne is my birth place and the arts have always been in my life. I have reviewed films and books professionally and would like to have regular contact with other adults biblically grounded, spiritually committed and arts appreciative. There are believers across all main stage events! I saw some of the earliest performances of Godspell and Superstar — no problem, no fuss, just profoundly conscious of the Lord’s presence.
    He gave me imagination and story-telling gifts and granted reading, music, theatre and cinema interests in the home and school from the earliest of days. Enjoy the celebration of life!

  2. Peter Breen

    July 7, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    Part of the core of who I am is in the response to this suggestion. In one of my favourite and most profound books, “Reasons of the heart” Golbourn Anglican Bishop Bruce Wilson – founder of the Eremos Institude – makes the core theme of this work the need for awareness of epiphany. His thesis is that epiphany is a common and normal human experience but that few know or are aware of these “happenings. ” I equate epiphany as the overflow, in a moment, of mystery. Citing Australian Nobel Peace prize winner Patrick White’s very ordinary but profound epiphany and spiritual awakening and the further destruction of his church attendance by an overzealous Sydney Anglican priest, Wilson further exegete’s the arts – and particularly film – as the unrecognized representation of both the experience of epiphany and the serious quest for spiritual enlightenment. In another recent publication “The Future of Faith” retiring Harvard Divinity School professor of religion, Harvey Cox reflects on the church and its place in spirituality and suprisingly holds up the Pentecostal movement as the hope for some kind of spiritual reality in the plethora of religious institutions. His view is that Pentecosalism at least has an unashamed hunger for the numinous or mysterious or for epiphany. Where do the arts fit around the question of mystery? The arts – and I don’t mean design or craft so much – in their most profound expressions grow out of the struggle of the artist with mystery, including the struggle with depression, melancholia and loneliness. Marks on paper or canvas, sculpture, music, poetry, dance, drama are in part extensions of the artist’s struggle with mystery or the representation of some kind of epiphany. Christians in the tradition I have come out of have used art for utilitarian purposes, a fruit of the reformation and good capitalist pragmatism and bottom line profit. Evangelism and worship are the servants of the arts in that tradition. In the more artistically expressive religions , the art is still used to aid worship and is directive eg iconography. For me the mystery in living and in the spiritual quest is found in the corner of my eye, in the understated Keats’ poem, in art that reflects the struggle and the discovery but not necessarily with clear understanding. Occassionally a light turns on during some music or at a film or during an extended mediatioin on a painting that makes me inexplicably aware that I live in god and god lives in me. For me this is the missing element in so much religion and it is what is growing in some parts of the arts as the expression of the undying hunger for spiritual understandings.


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