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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Christmas & creativity

How do artists express faith?

The Christmas story of Jesus' birth also suggests the birth of human creativity--making this an especially good time of year to reflect on creativity in the arts.

What is a definition of art? How do we know when art is "good" or "authentic"? How can art inform, enrich and express the life of faith? How can art contribute to social action? These are just a few of the questions addressed in Spirit of Fire: Faith, Art and Action, a new resource from the nondenominational magazine Sojourners.

The 98-page book addresses these questions in poems, essays and articles. There also are suggestions for art activities a family or congregation might undertake. The book contains a comprehensive list of organizations and Web sites that can help in understanding the relationship between art and faith.

Spirit of Fire includes many stunning photographs of paintings, drawings, architecture, dance and musical performances--and of the artists who created these works.

Well-known contributors include poet Rita Dove, novelist and essayist Madeleine L'Engle and author/peace activist Daniel Berrigan. Essays and articles cover such topics as Latin American murals, the vision of painter Georgia O'Keeffe, the work of novelist Flannery O'Connor, and the spirituality of jazz great John Coltrane. Also included are the architecture of Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church that expresses both the theology and the ethnic background of its African American members, the religious dimensions of films and an article I wrote on congregational arts programs.

More theoretical selections deal with "difficult art," the role of mystery in art and the struggle that artists of faith go through in expressing their creativity. A question of ongoing fascination is whether art must be beautiful. The book contains several different treatments of this infinitely challenging issue.

To order, call (800) 714-7474 or visit www.sojo.net/resources. Cost is $14.95 for one through nine copies; bulk discounts are available.


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