My friend and former professor of philosophy at Wheaton College, Bruce Ellis Benson, has written an important and creative new book that I hope gains a wide audience, Liturgy as a Way of Life: Embodying the Arts in Christian Worship. This title belongs to an excellent series by Baker Academic called “The Church and Postmodern Culture,” which “features high-profile theorists in continental philosophy and contemporary theology writing for a broad, nonspecialist audience interested in the impact of postmodern theory on the faith and practice of the church.” Benson is the author of Graven Ideologies, The Improvisation of Musical Dialogue, and Pious Nietzsche, and the coeditor of several books, including Evangelicals and Empire.
Philosopher Bruce Ellis Benson explores how the arts inform and cultivate service to God, helping the church to not only think differently about the arts but also act differently. He contends that we are all artists, that our very lives should be seen as art, and that we should live liturgically in service to God and neighbor.
Working from the biblical structure of call and response, Benson rethinks what it means to be artistic and recovers the ancient Christian idea of presenting oneself to God as a work of art. Rather than viewing art as practiced only by the few, Benson argues that we are all called by God to be artists. He reenvisions art as the very core of our being: we are God’s own art, and God calls us to improvise as living and growing works of art. Benson also examines the nature of liturgy and connects art and liturgy in a new way.
This book will appeal to philosophy, worship/liturgy, art, music, and theology students as well as those who are interested in engaging issues of worship and aesthetics in a postmodern context.
Introduction: The Art of Living
1. The Call and the Response
2. Deconstructing the Discourse of Art
3. Improvising Like Jazz
4. On Not Being an Artistic Whore
5. Becoming Living Works of Art
Symposium in The Other Journal
- Ed Phillips reviews Liturgy as a Way of Life. Benson responds to Phillips.
- Linda Borecki reviews Liturgy as a Way of Life. Benson responds to Borecki.
- Nathaniel Marx reviews Liturgy as a Way of Life. Benson responds to Marx.