How to Engage with Art and Culture

Daniel A. SiedellAs Christians, how do we engage with art and culture? Whether we try to avoid it and remain unstained by the world, or we press into it in an attempt to redeem it for God’s glory, we all have to ask ourselves this question. So, what passages of Scripture help us answer it, and how do we interpret them and apply them today?

Dr. Daniel A. Siedell, visiting professor of Christianity and culture at Knox Theological Seminary, is teaching a Doctor of Ministry class in March addressing this exact topic. If you’re currently enrolled in Knox’s DMin program, or if you would like to further your education and begin your studies, this is well worth your time. You can apply by visiting DMin.me or, if you’re already a Knox student, register by emailing the registrar.

Dr. Siedell has sent us a letter to share with you, inviting you to take this remarkable class:

Dear prospective Christ & Culture student,

I feel your pain. The world of art and culture is indeed confusing and intimidating. St. Paul tells us to be as innocent as doves and as wise as serpents and to dwell on all that is good. And yet we are surrounded by cultural artifacts—movies, television shows, paintings, literature, music, and a host of other images, objects, and events—that may or may not be “good” and worth dwelling on, and we worry that we will lose what’s left of our innocence, not to mention that of our children or our parishioners.

But are art and culture always something to be avoided? Must we always keep them at arm’s length? So much of what we hear and read about art and culture inside and outside the church is negative and polemic, so it’s easy to get the impression that the arts and culture should simply be avoided if they cannot be used as tools for communicating what we think are Christian virtues.

But what about those paintings, novels, comic books, films, and songs—those artifacts of popular and high culture—that move us, that attract us, that describe us? As Christians, how can we justify our interest in, and perhaps even love of, them—especially if they don’t seem to offer an explicitly Christian message, or perhaps they even challenge it?

Join me at Knox Seminary the week of March 10 and we’ll devote a week to thinking and talking about art, culture, and theology from every conceivable perspective. But we’ll also experience art—we’ll explore what happens when we listen to music, look at a painting, read a novel, watch a film, and listen to a poem. In short, we’ll explore how to listen to works of art and culture. We’ll take this week to let art be art, to let it breathe as an aesthetic experience that opens us to God and to the world, in ways that just might surprise us. And we’ll think about how our experience of art and culture can help us understand vocation, deepen our pastoral work, discipleship, counseling, and parenting, and even help us understand preaching and the proclamation of the Gospel itself.

But ultimately, in listening to art and culture, we’ll discover what it reveals about ourselves—about who we are before God and our neighbor.

I look forward to spending the week with you.

Grace and Peace,

Daniel A. Siedell, PhD

Join Dr. Siedell and other brothers and sisters in Christ as they engage Scripture and art, and discover how God intended us to relate to the expressions of the world around us. Apply today, or request more information at DMin.me.

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