Christian contemplative and essayist Arthur Aghajanian explores how images influence our understanding of reality and the sacred through conversations with thought leaders on art, visual culture, and religion. Each episode delves into a different area of visual theology, opening to spiritual wisdom while deconstructing an image-saturated world. Learn more at imageandfaith.com
Gregory Price Grieve: Video Games and Theology
Gregory is Head, and Professor of the Religious Studies Department at The University of North Carolina Greensboro. As the Director of UNCG’s Network for the Cultural Study of Videogaming and a founding member of the International Academy for the Study of Gaming and Religion, Gregory is at the forefront of advancing scholarly understanding in this emerging field.
In this episode, Gregory and I discussed how video games challenge and reinforce societal perceptions of religion. We talked about ways religious studies can critically analyze and interpret these representations in popular gaming culture. We also delved into how video games influence personal beliefs, the symbolism of violence, and the role of games in relation to complex moral and philosophical concepts.
Introduction to Season 2
In this season, we'll be diving into thoughtful discussions that bring our theological framework to bear on the images and objects within specialized areas of visual culture. We've invited a diverse array of guides, each an expert in their particular area of aesthetics. From movies and fashion to iconography and graphic design, we'll be exploring a wealth of subject matter, but our goal
remains the same: to illuminate how visual expressions enrich and influence our spiritual lives.
Season 1 Closing Episode
In the closing episode of Season 1 of Visually Sacred, host Arthur Aghajanian reflects on the journey and looks forward to Season 2.
To make sure you stay on top of everything we're doing during our break, be sure to subscribe to Arthur's newsletter at imageandfaith.com. It's the best way to receive updates, exclusive insights, and helpful content directly from Arthur. It's also where you will find access to his essays on images and theology.
Don't forget to subscribe to the podcast, and stay tuned for more exciting conversations when we return!
William Dyrness: Protestant Aesthetics, Modernism, and Theopoetics
William is Professor of Theology and Culture at Fuller Theological Seminary, where from 1990 to 2000 he served as Dean of the School of Theology. His teaching and research interests focus on the relation of the Christian Faith to culture, especially to the visual arts and on missions and global theology. In addition to many articles and reviews he has published several books including "Rouault: A Vision of Suffering and Salvation; How Does America Hear the Gospel?"; "Learning About Theology from the Third World"; "The Earth is God’s: A Theology of American Culture"; "Visual Faith: Art, Theology and Worship in Dialogue"; and "Reformed Theology and Visual Culture: The Protestant Imagination from Calvin to Edwards". In 2008 he co-edited the "Global Dictionary of Theology" with V. M. Karkainnen. William's more recent books include "Poetic Theology: God and the Poetics of Everyday Life"; "Theology Without Borders" (co-written with Oscar Garcia-Johnson); "Modern Art and the Life of a Culture" (co-written with Jonathan Anderson) and "The Facts on the Ground".
In this episode, William and I discussed a number of important issues related to visual art and Christian culture. We began our conversation with William sharing his thoughts on the importance of art to spirituality and the historical and theological reasons behind different ideas about images found in Protestantism versus Catholicism. We also talked about the often unseen but fascinating centrality of Christianity within Modern art. Then we unpacked the subject of theopoetics, with William distinguishing its primary traits and how it connects art to daily life.
Taylor Worley: Spirituality in Contemporary Art
Taylor is visiting associate professor of art history at Wheaton College and project director for “Thinking about Thinking: Conceptual Art and the Contemplative Tradition.” This research project seeks to make new connections between the conceptualist art-making strategy and the benefits of spiritual contemplation. Taylor is the author of "Memento Mori in Contemporary Art: Theologies of Lament and Hope." Additionally, he has edited "Theology, Aesthetics and Culture: Conversations with the Work of David Brown" with Rob MacSwain, "Dreams, Doubt, and Dread: The Spiritual in Film" with Zachary Settle, and "Contemporary Art and the Church: A Conversation between Two Worlds" with David Taylor. He has served on the board of directors for the organization Christians in the Visual Arts since 2015.
In this episode, Taylor and I discuss the place of spirituality in contemporary art. I was interested to hear his ideas about how a theological interpretation of art adds meaning and depth to the variety of frameworks typically used in art criticism. We talked about how artists approach spirituality today and how the gap between contemporary art and Christian life might be bridged. We also focused on conceptual art, an approach to artmaking that, despite appearances, can often reflect Christian ethics.
Robin Jensen: Christian Architecture
Robin is Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. Her research and publication focuses on the relationship between early Christian art and literature and examines the ways that visual images and architectural spaces should be regarded as modes of theological expression. Her published essays and books contend that, in addition to interpreting sacred texts, visual images enhance liturgical settings, reflect the nature and content of devotional piety, and explicate ritual practices. She teaches courses on the character of late antique Christian and Jewish art, the history and evolution of Christian architecture, the iconography of the cross and crucifix, depictions of Christ and the Virgin Mary, and the place and controversies over images and idols in ancient and early medieval Christianity.
For this episode, I sat down with Robin to talk about Christian architecture. She explained some of its essential characteristics and how the design of a church reflects theology. We also discussed the role of images and objects in relation to the spaces of churches and cathedrals, and how architects approach the design of a place for worship. Robin and I also delved into some of the current challenges in designing religious architecture and how architects might best respond to the spiritual needs of a congregation.