The Theological Promise of the Arts in a Reductionist World
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Late-modern culture has been marred by reductionism, which shrinks and flattens our vision of ourselves and the world. Renowned theologian Jeremy Begbie believes that the arts by their nature push against reductionism, helping us understand and experience more deeply the infinite richness of God's love and of the world God has made.
In Abundantly More, Begbie analyzes and critiques reductionism and its effects. He shows how the arts can resist reductive impulses by opening us up to an unlimited abundance of meaning. And he demonstrates how engaging the arts in light of a trinitarian imagination (which itself cuts against reductionism) generates a unique way of witnessing to and sharing in the life and purposes of God.
Theologians, artists, and any who are interested in how these fields intersect will find rich resources here and discover the crucial role the arts can play in keeping our culture open to the possibility of God.
Part 1: Pressures of Containment
1. Reductive Pressures
2. The Arts under Pressure
3. A Scriptural Interruption: Seeing and Not Seeing (John 9:1-34)
4. Reductionism's Peculiarities
5. A Scriptural Interruption: Living Water and Overflow (John 4:1-15)
Part 2: Counterpressures
6. Art's Generativity
7. God's Uncontainable Pressure
8. God's Own "Ex-pressure"
Part 3: Convergences
9. Resonances and Reverberations
10. Open Feast
"As only Jeremy Begbie can do, this book weaves theology and music, philosophy and poetry, science and Scripture to explore and celebrate the uncontainability of the triune God and the irreducible complexity of creation. Beginning with an astute analysis of our modern tendency to reduce, flatten, and de-complexify the beautiful, swirling kaleidoscope of divine and created reality, Begbie articulates a creative, constructive pneumatology that deepens our understanding of the resonance between theology and the arts. A remarkable achievement that breaks new ground."
James K. A. Smith, professor of philosophy, Calvin University; editor in chief, Image
"Abundantly More is not simply a justification of the literary, visual, and musical arts. Begbie insists that the arts do far more than give us delight. They also undermine the idea that human reason alone is capable of understanding our universe and invite us to encounter and engage the inexhaustible beauty and incomprehensible mystery of what cannot be defined."
Robin Jensen, Patrick O'Brien Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame
"Over against modernity's reductionistic impulses--to view human life as 'nothing more than,' human work as 'nothing but,' and human relations as mere power struggles and 'nothing besides'--Jeremy Begbie shows how Christ's resurrection, as the uncontainable 'moreness' of God's love-in-action par excellence, serves to rupture this pathologically miserly vision of life and how the arts can function as graced partners in the ongoing 'opening up and out' work of the triune God. This book is a must-read for theologians and church leaders."
W. David O. Taylor, associate professor of theology and culture, Fuller Theological Seminary
"In this book, Jeremy Begbie achieves a remarkable double feat: a quietly devastating critique of the engrained reductionist tendencies in Western modernity and, in dialogue with his profoundly humane theological insight, an inspiring manifesto for the fundamental value of the arts as part of what makes us human."
Bettina Varwig, professor in music history, University of Cambridge
"As a composer I've always resisted reductionist tendencies in culture, academia, and the arts. The numinous power of music has always felt uncontrollable and explosive. Restrictive philosophical impulses in the modern world also seem hand in glove with the obsession of writing God out of the equation. Here we have a powerful critique of these denialist and limiting instincts--the arts need theology, and Begbie opens up necessary vistas on this vital discussion."
Sir James MacMillan, composer
"If you worry about our modern world squeezing you into its own little mold, then Jeremy Begbie's book is a must read. While masterfully showing the possible role of making and receiving art in God's renewing work, he enlarges our view of God's own abundant love for the world."
William Dyrness, senior professor of theology and culture, Fuller Theological Seminary