When I talk about paddles, I’m not talking about getting your canoe down the river. I am referring to the kind that help bring people back to life. That’s exactly what I believe we need to do with art. I spoke several weeks ago at our church about how I believe Christians distorted the second commandment, abandoned art, and allowed secularists to own that venue, bringing a plethora of consequences. That being said, there are many Christians beginning to redeem the arts and find their place among our world. Here is a list of books I believe helped me understand the arts’ true place in this world.
Art for God’s Sake: A call to Recover the Arts by Philip Graham Ryken – This is probably the shortest book on the list. It has several gems in it, and could be read in an evening.
Tree and Leaf by J R.R. Tolkien. This book contains several things including “On Fairy-Stories”, an article explaining why fantasy is important to culture, Christianity and children. It’s one of Tolkien’s unknown works, but really helped formed my thinking about fantasy currently.
Echoes of Eden: Reflections on Christianity, Literature, and the Arts by Jerram Barrs is one of the most refreshing books I’ve read in a long time. Barrs combines many of the thoughts I have had for years about literature and “secular” art in a coherent way. He then took it to the next level and practically gave a lot to think about for those who read or enjoy art.
Art and the Bible by Francis Schaeffer. Schaeffer is always deep, thoughtful and thorough. This is a short book that will give you Francis’ take on the matter.
The Stories We Tell: How TV and Movies Long or and Echo the Truth by Mike Cosper. As I write this post, I’m finishing this book. For those who grew up in a perceived legalistic religious tradition, this book would be a lot of food for thought for them.
State of the Arts by Gene Edward Veith Jr. I have not read this book yet, but I’ve read other things by Veith such as “Postmodern Times” and other books in this series by Crossway publishers, and I doubt it would disappoint.
From Achilles to Christ: Why Christians Should Read the Pagan Classics by Louis Markos. Markos has had a huge impact on the way I watch and read things. If you are into the liberal arts, the first chapter is worth the price of the book.
Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, and Meaning by Nancy Pearcey. Nancy is one smart lassie. This book is a great primer on learning the basics of art, while challenging how art affects our worldview and therefore our ethics.
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