Archives For Aesthetics


“Making the Claims of
Truth and Goodness Meaningful

A review of
Beauty Will Save the World:
Recovering the Human in an Ideological Age

by Gregory Wolfe

Review by Jonathan Master.

BEAUTY WILL SAVE THE WORLD - Gregory WolfeBeauty Will Save the World:
Recovering the Human in an Ideological Age

by Gregory Wolfe
Hardback: ISI Books, 2011.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

There never was a golden age for art and the church.  Not one in which the church fully understood and supported her artists, or where the artists, for their part, practiced their work in constant service to the greater glory of God. But there have been better and worse times.  Our age, by anyone’s reckoning, is not one of the better ones. In general, the church is concerned, confused, or downright hostile to high art; and artists return the favor, often scorning traditional norms of decency, order, and Christian transcendence. Some have ventured into this breach, but few as successfully as Gregory Wolfe, writer, critic, and founder of the journal Image.  Wolfe’s work is a gift to us, deserving of our gratitude.

This ambitiously titled book, Beauty Will Save the World (“tell us what you really think, Mr. Wolfe”), is a hybrid of sorts.  It contains elements of autobiography, and sections which can best be described as intellectual match-making, introducing readers to important voices in contemporary art and literature. Along the way, Wolfe employs his incisive critical skills, showing once again why he is such a valuable resource in the efforts at rapprochement between art and the church.

Continue Reading…


865786: Poetic Theology: God and the Poetics of Everyday Life

A Review of

Poetic Theology: God and the Poetics of Everyday Life

By William A. Dyrness
Paperback: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2011.

Buy now:
[ ]
[ Amazon – Kindle ]

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

[ Read an excerpt from this book…]

I have long-admired William Dyrness’s work; his The Earth is God’s, for instance, is one of the finest works on theology and culture.  I was therefore excited to learn of his recent book Poetic Theology: God and the Poetics of Everyday Life, a work that “seeks to connect poetry and theology.”  This is an extraordinarily important book, and (following in the vein of Ragan Sutterfield’s recent review of The Achievement of Wendell Berry) I must confess that I have not yet given it all the attention that it deserves. Allow me here to give just the tiniest taste of why this is such a crucial book.

Continue Reading…


“Aesthetics and Social Transformation”

An Excerpt from

Poetic Theology:
God and the Poetics of Everyday Life
William Dyrness.
Paperback: Eerdmans, 2011.
Buy now: [ ]
[ Amazon – Kindle ]

Read our review above


Pied Beauty
Gerard Manley Hopkins

[ Found in GM Hopkins: Poems and Prose ]

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

Continue Reading…


Euclid alone has looked on Beauty bare.
Edna St.Vincent Millay

Euclid alone has looked on Beauty bare.
Let all who prate of Beauty hold their peace,
And lay them prone upon the earth and cease
To ponder on themselves, the while they stare
At nothing, intricately drawn nowhere
In shapes of shifting lineage; let geese
Gabble and hiss, but heroes seek release
From dusty bondage into luminous air.
O blinding hour, O holy, terrible day,
When first the shaft into his vision shone
Of light anatomized! Euclid alone
Has looked on Beauty bare. Fortunate they
Who, though once only and then but far away,
Have heard her massive sandal set on stone.


A Thing of Beauty
John Keats

This poem is the beginning of Keats’ epic poem Endymion
Get the Kindle Ebook of Endymion for FREE!!!!

A thing of beauty is a joy forever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.

Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing
A flowery band to bind us to the earth,
Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth
Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,
Of all the unhealthy and o’er-darkened ways
Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
From our dark spirits. Such the sun, the moon,
Trees old, and young, sprouting a shady boon
For simple sheep; and such are daffodils
With the green world they live in; and clear rills
That for themselves a cooling covert make
‘Gainst the hot season; the mid-forest brake,
Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms:
And such too is the grandeur of the dooms
We have imagined for the mighty dead;
All lovely tales that we have heard or read:
An endless fountain of immortal drink,
Pouring unto us from the heaven’s brink.
Continue Reading…


“Seeking that which Seems Beyond All Language

A Review of
The Sublime.
Simon Morley, ed.

Reviewed by
Brent Aldrich.

The Sublime.
Documents of Contemporary Art Series.

Simon Morley, ed.

Paperback: MIT Press, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

SUBLIME - Simon Morley, ed.Edmund Burke, writing in the 1700s in his essay ‘On the Sublime and Beautiful’ describes several marks of the Sublime, first among them the sense of Terror, followed by Obscurity, Power, Privation, Vastness, Infinity, Difficulty, and Magnificence. It is a state marked by astonishment, specifically with Burke in the landscape or painting and literature about the same; in other words, a way of making the indescribable describable. Although having read this essay and others like it before, the full effect of the terror Burke stresses in the sublime hadn’t taken shape for me until recently, watching over and over the first 30-second video clip of the Deepwater Horizon oil leak. This is a frightful image in its murky greenness. And the scope of what this simple video loop suggests is nearly beyond the capacity to describe. It certainly follows several of Burke’s qualifications of the sublime – the terror of the scope, the obscurity and privation of the bottom of the ocean, the suggestion of infinity – but it also raises even more questions in regard to what a particularly contemporary sublime might encompass. Many of these themes are raised in The Sublime, edited by Simon Morley, and the latest installment of the Documents of Contemporary Art series.

Continue Reading…


A Review of

From Head to Hand:
Art and the Manual
David Levi Strauss.
Hardback: Oxford UP, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Brent Aldrich.

FROM HEAD TO HAND - David Levi StraussIt’s hard to describe exactly the scope of David Levi Strauss’ new book From Head to Hand: Art and the Manual; it begins where I might expect, with several essays narrating the physical materialization of ideas in the work of hands-on, process-oriented artists. Continuing through this book, though, the focus broadens to include larger social contexts, the cultural tradition of art, and artists and writers influential for Strauss as a writer. Very early on, anyway, Strauss introduces “making things by hand” as a radical act in our disconnected age, in that “it puts human beings in a direct, rather than hidden, relation to labor” (2); stated more broadly, “ ‘to utter that which is unutterable, to render audible that which is ineffable, to render visible that which is hidden’ ” (159) is the translation ‘from head to hand’ by which all human art is performed. The Word becoming Flesh is an irresistible metaphor (and partially the subject of the final chapter), an ultimate creative act by which separations such as mind and body and spirit become much more fluid. Human work, then, that deals directly with the transformation of materials, and specifically visual or textual art, is also bound up in the reciprocal process between ideas and materials.

Continue Reading…