This issue of Reflections is intended to help us think through the value of art and beauty in various venues of faith in the 21st century and see its many applications. The essays take a measure of the role of art and music in a local church. They challenge us to reflect on the power and use of poetry not only for personal edification but for use in worship. They analyze the understanding of beauty in Kant, von Balthasar, and Jonathan Edwards. And they engage with the architectural significance of modern church structures. I hope that you find these essays as helpful and encouraging as I have.
Beauty provokes awe and wonder in us. Though we admire the creativity and skill of the artists, this beauty and creativity is really a reflection of the perfection and creative powers of God. Beauty enables us to experience the Creator God who exists beyond space and time of the sense-perceptible world we inhabit, whether we experience that beauty through our eyes, our ears, or multiple senses. Johann Sebastian Bach was right to sign his cantatas ad majorem Dei gloriam, not only to express his intent in composing each choral work, but to capture our reaction to the experience of hearing it.
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