Timothy Verdon, editor
Paraclete Press, 128 pages
It was Prince Myshkin in Dostoevsky’s “The Idiot” who famously said, “Beauty will save the world.” To which the iconoclastic Protestant might respond: “No! Jesus saves the world.” That is the common divide that this book seeks to overcome. Art and beauty can be the bridge that brings together diverse people and can be an instrument of communion. This beautiful book, edited by the art historian Timothy Verdon, was written for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation that divided the church and, for Protestants, deeply separated art from faith. Rather than divide as it originally did, leaving ornate sanctuaries on the one hand (Roman Catholic) and austere ones on the other (Protestant), these writers believe art can bring people of faith together. The authors are Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant artists, pastors and scholars who address a variety of subjects pertaining to art and beauty in each tradition. In his essay, William Dryness sums up his argument for visual art in Protestant churches: “Since the Reformation Protestants have embraced the beauty of the word and of music in their collective prayer … now is the time too open their worship spaces to visual beauty as a sign of God’s presence.” The book includes beautifully reproduced images explored by some of the finest artists and scholars of our time. God must be glad for the feast this book offers to people hungry for prayer, art and beauty in a divided world.