Fourteen essays written over a period of more than 30 years explore the roles of art and religion as vehicles for transcendent truth.
Product Code: 6153
ISBN: 9781558964280
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Skinner House
Pages: 192
Published Date: 02/01/2002
Availability:In stock
Price: $14.00
In fourteen essays written over a period of more than 30 years and published here for the first time, Hayward explores the many roles of art and religion as vehicles for transcendent truth, and “makes the transcendent visible to contemporary minds and hearts. (J. Ronald Engel, Meadville/Lombard Theological School)
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Art and the Religious Life

Imaginative Truth and the Creator

The Modest Doorway of Craft

Music and Wild Horses

Superstition, Doubt and Faith

Living Religion and a Liberal Tradition

Myth and the Modern World

A New Story of Creation

The Greek Hero and the Biblical Anti-hero

Judaic Mythology in Modern Christianity

The Incredible Folklore of Easter

Hope and the Holy Spirit

Divine Justive in the Hebrew Bible

Through the Rose Window


"Martin Luther once said that the fine art of music is "like a square dance in heaven." Perhaps Luther unintentionally reflected the ancient Greek belief that all human arts are gifts from divine Muses. The great reformer, who seldom did anything without passion, was passionately fond of music. And his enthusiasm bore fruit in his own and subsequent generations through the flowering of Lutheran hymnody and sacred cantata. This is especially the case in those greatest works of musical art, guided by prayer and Lutheran piety and explicitly dedicated to God—the works of Johann Sebastian Bach.

Few of the arts but music flourished in Protestant churches after the Reformation. The Lutheran condemnation of the abomination of images and idols and the thoroughly Puritan flavor of Calvinism on the continent and in England represented a prejudicial divorce between religion and the arts, a prejudice that is still in effect in most Protestant circles. Art has withered in the church and in the community generally because so few seem to be concerned to give it nurture. There is an exaggerated seriousness in the Protestant ethic—as well as in our busy world of science, technology, and business—where people feel they have something better to do than to dally in square dancing whether on earth or in heaven. "Work, for the night is coming" has been the law and the gospel to believers and unbelievers alike. And they are right so long as they and we allow ourselves to conceive of art as, at best, a pleasant dalliance or refreshing distraction from the main concerns of life. And because art has been classified not infrequently as play, it has been relegated to those sections of the population that have either the inclination or the money and leisure to devote themselves wholeheartedly to play, namely, children and the wealthy.

Granted that art is a kind of play, is it not also something more than play? Luther's "square dance in heaven" may suggest some celestial joining of play and work that is as serious and purposeful as it is delightful. It calls to mind the metaphor in the first chapter of Genesis wherein God undertakes the labor of creation for the joy of it and finds delight in the works of God's hand. The Greek satirist Lucian spoke, perhaps in jest, of the work of creation as play and of the sublime forms of play as somehow related to the highest levels of work. Music has often been given a cosmic status, as in the phrase "the music of the spheres," as if the creation of the universe were a kind of joyful concert of separate powers moving into a universal harmony.

“This is the fruit of a lifetime of reflection on the importance of imagination in religion. Thought-provoking, yet written in readable and beautiful language, these reflections are themselves works of art. Hayward explores the value of myths as models of transcendence and clarifies how these myths are still present in our secular, scientific and technological culture. Although deeply religious, Hayward is not heavy-handed. He acknowledges his doubts along with his convictions, and speaks of the divine only with reticence and a sense of the inadequacy of all words. This book will be a delight to readers of a variety of religious and non-religious stances. I wish I had had this book when I was a preacher.”

—Jerome Stone, Meadville/Lombard Theological School

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