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Imagine: A Vision for Christians in the Arts

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Imagine art that is risky, complex and subtle! Imagine music, movies, books and paintings of the highest quality! Imagine art that permeates society, challenging conventional thinking and standard morals to their core! Imagine that it is all created by Christians! This is the bold vision of Steve Turner, someone who has worked among artists--many Christian and many not--fo Imagine art that is risky, complex and subtle! Imagine music, movies, books and paintings of the highest quality! Imagine art that permeates society, challenging conventional thinking and standard morals to their core! Imagine that it is all created by Christians! This is the bold vision of Steve Turner, someone who has worked among artists--many Christian and many not--for three decades. He believes Christians should confront society and the church with the powerful impact art can convey. He believes art can faithfully chronicle the lives of ordinary people and equally express the transcendence of God. He believes that Christians should be involved in every level of the art world and in every media. Yet art and artists have not always been held in high esteem by conservative Christians. Art rarely seems to communicate clear propositional truth, rarely deals with certainties and absolutes. And the lifestyles of artists too frequently seem at odds with the gospel. So the arts have often been discouraged among Christians. Throughout this stimulating book, however, Turner builds a compelling case against such a perspective. He shows that if Jesus is Lord of all of life and creation, then art is not out of bounds for Christians. Rather it can and should be a way of expressing faith in creatively, beautifully, truthfully arranged words, sounds and sights. This stirring call is must reading for every Christian who has been drawn to the arts or been influenced by them.


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Imagine art that is risky, complex and subtle! Imagine music, movies, books and paintings of the highest quality! Imagine art that permeates society, challenging conventional thinking and standard morals to their core! Imagine that it is all created by Christians! This is the bold vision of Steve Turner, someone who has worked among artists--many Christian and many not--fo Imagine art that is risky, complex and subtle! Imagine music, movies, books and paintings of the highest quality! Imagine art that permeates society, challenging conventional thinking and standard morals to their core! Imagine that it is all created by Christians! This is the bold vision of Steve Turner, someone who has worked among artists--many Christian and many not--for three decades. He believes Christians should confront society and the church with the powerful impact art can convey. He believes art can faithfully chronicle the lives of ordinary people and equally express the transcendence of God. He believes that Christians should be involved in every level of the art world and in every media. Yet art and artists have not always been held in high esteem by conservative Christians. Art rarely seems to communicate clear propositional truth, rarely deals with certainties and absolutes. And the lifestyles of artists too frequently seem at odds with the gospel. So the arts have often been discouraged among Christians. Throughout this stimulating book, however, Turner builds a compelling case against such a perspective. He shows that if Jesus is Lord of all of life and creation, then art is not out of bounds for Christians. Rather it can and should be a way of expressing faith in creatively, beautifully, truthfully arranged words, sounds and sights. This stirring call is must reading for every Christian who has been drawn to the arts or been influenced by them.

30 review for Imagine: A Vision for Christians in the Arts

  1. 5 out of 5

    Carla

    I need to read this book every year. It absolutely transformed my view of myself as a Christian and as a musician. Must read for any artist of faith.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kristina

    Lit a hope in me that Christianity is compatible with the arts, and that Christians in fact have a responsibility to them.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Carolynda Sayers

    This is probably now one of my favourite books of all time! (Thank you Eilidh) - Right from the beginning the writer states “Some people think you are only really glorifying God if you are doing something religious.” This sets the tone for the book. The writer then goes on to talk about art in all its forms from music, painting, writing, dance, poetry and many other genres and how they influence culture but also how they in turn are influenced BY culture. He goes on to say that being a Christian This is probably now one of my favourite books of all time! (Thank you Eilidh) - Right from the beginning the writer states “Some people think you are only really glorifying God if you are doing something religious.” This sets the tone for the book. The writer then goes on to talk about art in all its forms from music, painting, writing, dance, poetry and many other genres and how they influence culture but also how they in turn are influenced BY culture. He goes on to say that being a Christian artist can influence what form our art takes but it doesn’t have to be immediately obvious. “We do not need to overtly refer to God in everything we create. Not even every book in the Bible refers to God. Jesus surely didn’t mark all his carpentry with a relevant saying, and Paul didn’t embroider memory verses on his tents.” Steve Turner, himself an artist, explains how as Christians we all have the ability to glorify God in whatever we do - some will do it well and others will do it badly - just because you have talent as a musician for example, it does not mean you HAVE to suddenly start singing and playing overtly Christian music - you can still play your own style of music to glorify God. His prime example of this is the band U2 who have, over the years, integrated their faith firmly in the lyrics of their songs but not so that it causes people to cringe. In the same way, whatever your gift, be it music, poetry, painting or photography, you can do it all to glorify God either obviously or subtly as long as it is done well. When God created the world he sat back and saw “...everything that he had made, and behold, It was VERY good.” (Gen 1:31)

  4. 5 out of 5

    John

    it was good overall - definitely should be in a must-read section of anyone who's a believer pursuing a vocation in art. the part that really caught my attention was on dealing w/ the subject of the uneasiness a believing artist feel in both in christian and art circles. in some ways, lot of us feel we're too christian for non-christians and too non-chrisitian for christians. throughout the book, turner gave a good analysis on the nature of such struggle. however, one part i didn't like too much it was good overall - definitely should be in a must-read section of anyone who's a believer pursuing a vocation in art. the part that really caught my attention was on dealing w/ the subject of the uneasiness a believing artist feel in both in christian and art circles. in some ways, lot of us feel we're too christian for non-christians and too non-chrisitian for christians. throughout the book, turner gave a good analysis on the nature of such struggle. however, one part i didn't like too much was on a chapter where he devotes a lot of time analyzing u2. i understand the purpose behind it. but, i am also aware of the christian tendency of jumping on the bandwagon of putting a token-believing artist [or a pop icon:] on a special pedestal. if that wasn't the case, i would have liked the book a lot more - i would still be a huge fan of u2 as well...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    I thought this was an excellent synthesis of ideas that are pertinent to the project of doing art (and for the relatively non artistic, like myself, for appreciating the arts) as a Christian. One of Turner's main accomplishments is to persuasively efface the manmade line between the sacred and the secular, and this conception of everything good as coming from God obviously has import for many other disciplines, as well (I thought of fitness :)). Turner's perspective is grounded by his extensive I thought this was an excellent synthesis of ideas that are pertinent to the project of doing art (and for the relatively non artistic, like myself, for appreciating the arts) as a Christian. One of Turner's main accomplishments is to persuasively efface the manmade line between the sacred and the secular, and this conception of everything good as coming from God obviously has import for many other disciplines, as well (I thought of fitness :)). Turner's perspective is grounded by his extensive practical experience as an artist and a student of the arts hashing out life in God's kingdom.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Courtney Deberry

    This is the second book I have read on the topic of the meaning of christian art. I was delighted to find that the subject matter provided biblical answers to many of the most challenging problems facing christian artists. There are many quotes in this book that are true not only to artists but Christians in general. The book was written in plain English and referenced many well known artists. The lack of "Christianese" made it a practical resource for all denominations and people at every level This is the second book I have read on the topic of the meaning of christian art. I was delighted to find that the subject matter provided biblical answers to many of the most challenging problems facing christian artists. There are many quotes in this book that are true not only to artists but Christians in general. The book was written in plain English and referenced many well known artists. The lack of "Christianese" made it a practical resource for all denominations and people at every level of faith. I would keep this book as a reference as my career develops.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Glen

    This book started off strong for me. But as I moved through it is slowly deteriorated and got more and more boring. I think he started belaboring points and that is where I found the deficit in the book. Not a bad book, but not a great one either.

  8. 4 out of 5

    johanna

    "there is one great distinction between the productions of heathen and Christian art. while the first exhibits the perfection of physical form and of intellectual beauty, the latter expresses, also, the majesty of sorrow, the grandeur of endurance, the idea of triumph refined from agony." - E.H. Chapin the concept of Christianity working in harmony with the arts is not a new idea, but it does seem to be a forgotten one. turner swings the perception of art vs. faith on its head with all the ruthl "there is one great distinction between the productions of heathen and Christian art. while the first exhibits the perfection of physical form and of intellectual beauty, the latter expresses, also, the majesty of sorrow, the grandeur of endurance, the idea of triumph refined from agony." - E.H. Chapin the concept of Christianity working in harmony with the arts is not a new idea, but it does seem to be a forgotten one. turner swings the perception of art vs. faith on its head with all the ruthlessness of a frustrated artist, but also with clarity and caution. any time I was concerned about the direction this book was taking, it surprised me by consistently returning to the original point and taking care to back up any statement with verses, quotes and examples. it's thorough and methodical without being dull and long-winded; well-researched and written from the standpoint of someone with a long career in the music/arts industry who has asked all the same questions you have and has come up with answers. tl;dr this is the book I needed when I was fifteen, and I am about to go and recommend it to every single person I know.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Crystal ✬ Lost in Storyland

    I like how Turner has broken down the chapters to address the major points on the topic, and I appreciate the conciseness of his words. He doesn't say more than he needs to say; this makes it easier to track ideas. He provides many examples from his own experiences and what he has seen in the lives of other Christian artists. In the end, it is clear that, while he believes that Christian art need not contain overt Christian references, we cannot make Christian art without a spiritual life ground I like how Turner has broken down the chapters to address the major points on the topic, and I appreciate the conciseness of his words. He doesn't say more than he needs to say; this makes it easier to track ideas. He provides many examples from his own experiences and what he has seen in the lives of other Christian artists. In the end, it is clear that, while he believes that Christian art need not contain overt Christian references, we cannot make Christian art without a spiritual life grounded in proper theology. A fantastic read that I recommend to Christians struggling with how to bring together their faith and their art (or interest in the arts).

  10. 5 out of 5

    Cassidy Van Vooren

    I read this book for a class, not expecting to love it as much as I did. But wow, this book changed the way I look at art and creating art as a Catholic Christian. 10 out of 10 would recommend to a friend! I now want to buy this book for every Christian I know! Turner did a fantastic job of addressing some of the fears Christian artists have when going into an industry. Be it a Christian industry, or a secular industry. If your skeptical about this book, I'd suggest you buy it and judge for your I read this book for a class, not expecting to love it as much as I did. But wow, this book changed the way I look at art and creating art as a Catholic Christian. 10 out of 10 would recommend to a friend! I now want to buy this book for every Christian I know! Turner did a fantastic job of addressing some of the fears Christian artists have when going into an industry. Be it a Christian industry, or a secular industry. If your skeptical about this book, I'd suggest you buy it and judge for yourself.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dianne Butts

    Interesting book for Christians in, or interested in, the arts -- music, film, painting, etc. The author makes some good points and hosts an interesting discussion, but I can't say I agree with many of his statements. Sprinkled through the book are quotes from artists, which adds another level of interest and fun. I went through the book with a group of Christian filmmakers and screenwriters, so the discussion questions at the end of each chapter were helpful. The book and questions led us to so Interesting book for Christians in, or interested in, the arts -- music, film, painting, etc. The author makes some good points and hosts an interesting discussion, but I can't say I agree with many of his statements. Sprinkled through the book are quotes from artists, which adds another level of interest and fun. I went through the book with a group of Christian filmmakers and screenwriters, so the discussion questions at the end of each chapter were helpful. The book and questions led us to some good discussions.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Rodriguez

    Maybe I'll write that essay based on info from this book and others (faith and art and all that) one day and post it here. I've had that essay on my heart for a while now. But for now, all you need to do is read this book. Buy it. It is worth the money. I'll be re reading this again this year. Maybe I'll write that essay based on info from this book and others (faith and art and all that) one day and post it here. I've had that essay on my heart for a while now. But for now, all you need to do is read this book. Buy it. It is worth the money. I'll be re reading this again this year.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jordan Tomeš

    A good intro to what it means to be an artist and a Christian. Encouraging read, touching on things that are very dear to me. Could go a bit deeper though. Will probably buy this to some of my Christian artist friends.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Lovely book that offers Christians solid and timely advice on how to be faithfully present in their art forms. It’s a way to break out of the Christian arts echo chamber that is so desperately needed.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Gina Mcandrew

    Excellent book! The author has put into words what I have been trying to say for so many years. The reasons for why I have an art studio with classes is for all the reasons he points out in this book. Thank you for giving me the words to keep on track!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    really dry, and too academic for what I was looking for. possibly suited more to musical-type creatives as this is the experience he is writing from. honestly this book was just too boring for me to persevere with right now hahah maybe I'll pick it up again sometime in the future ? really dry, and too academic for what I was looking for. possibly suited more to musical-type creatives as this is the experience he is writing from. honestly this book was just too boring for me to persevere with right now hahah maybe I'll pick it up again sometime in the future ?

  17. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Hernandez

    A great introduction to the question: "Where does a Christian fit into the arts?" It also offers good reasoning and defense for the Christian to become an artist. A great introduction to the question: "Where does a Christian fit into the arts?" It also offers good reasoning and defense for the Christian to become an artist.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sherry Elmer

    If the subject of Christianity and the arts appeals to you, it is very likely you will enjoy this book with an interesting take on this important subject. Definitely worth the time.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Courtney Smith

    Excellent perspective. A must read for any Believing artist, writer, or creative.

  20. 4 out of 5

    JHC

    Great read on the christian worldview and the arts. Very informative and perspective shaping.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Daniel LeTexier

    Simple concise read. Was encouraging to hear this perspective on arts when it seems like a lot of my peers seem to be very pessimistic about the arts in general.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Randy Bowen

    A solid argument for why I do what I do.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Nikki

    This book made me want to be a Christian. I already am one. Go read this!! It is brilliant and Turner makes it easy, breezy, beautiful to take in his beautiful philosophy on Christians in the arts.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Philip

    With creativity, clarity, and brevity, British writer Steve Turner sets out a clear path forward for artists of every type. Turner navigates Bible-based, Christ-centered worldview thinking with as much skill and ease as he shows in his knowledge of the twists and turns of the art world. He understands art's role, as well as those areas art is best not used. He shares the exhilarating vision, the varying levels on which art can relate to faith, and the potential pitfalls. This book nicely paralle With creativity, clarity, and brevity, British writer Steve Turner sets out a clear path forward for artists of every type. Turner navigates Bible-based, Christ-centered worldview thinking with as much skill and ease as he shows in his knowledge of the twists and turns of the art world. He understands art's role, as well as those areas art is best not used. He shares the exhilarating vision, the varying levels on which art can relate to faith, and the potential pitfalls. This book nicely parallels the Christian living and vocational applications of recent writers like Al Wolters and Michael Goheen (themselves following the lead of key worldview thinkers like Abraham Kuyper and Francis Schaeffer). All those seeking the integration of their Christian faith and their creative calling should put this book at the top of their reading list.

  25. 5 out of 5

    David Cowpar

    Tonnes of helpful ideas. Turner has really thought about, using his personal experiences and those of people around him, how a Christian should be involved in creating art, why a Christian should be involved in creating art, and how a Christian protects themselves from falling prey to the influence of the secular world and the allure of being in the spotlight. He originally planned on calling this book Being There because that is the message. Christians should not withdraw from society and only c Tonnes of helpful ideas. Turner has really thought about, using his personal experiences and those of people around him, how a Christian should be involved in creating art, why a Christian should be involved in creating art, and how a Christian protects themselves from falling prey to the influence of the secular world and the allure of being in the spotlight. He originally planned on calling this book Being There because that is the message. Christians should not withdraw from society and only create content for other Christians, we should be actively part of the debate that rages on through popular culture and the arts in our society. Christians should be there. “I’m convinced that the world of the arts, media and entertainment, because of its access to the imaginations of so many millions, is a place of great interest to the spiritual forces of evil.” (119)

  26. 5 out of 5

    Eddie Hudson

    11/15/14 Finished a week or so ago...you know, there is something to be said for those who understand, yes, we are defined by our relationship with God, but not only is not the limit of us, it isn't the limit of knowing God. Creativity, as it comes to art is the opportunity to express God in ways that defy conventional reasoning. IT is the opportunity to experience God in new and "living" ways. It's like experiencing the same "sun" but each day is different! My impression so far is that the autho 11/15/14 Finished a week or so ago...you know, there is something to be said for those who understand, yes, we are defined by our relationship with God, but not only is not the limit of us, it isn't the limit of knowing God. Creativity, as it comes to art is the opportunity to express God in ways that defy conventional reasoning. IT is the opportunity to experience God in new and "living" ways. It's like experiencing the same "sun" but each day is different! My impression so far is that the author wants to help Christians remain aware of God's requirement for living. At the same time, it's his desire that we remain en to the way God moves through us and in the world.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Heather Denigan

    Good little book. Turner speaks truth with satisfying depth and breadth, without fluff and without being a curmudgeon. One of the things I especially like about this book: the last chapter addresses the problem of Christians living, working, and walking faithfully and uprightly in the art world. By addressing the artist's temptations as well as voicing an apologia and mission statement for his work, Turner has written a well-rounded handbook for being in and not of. Goes more in depth than Nancy Good little book. Turner speaks truth with satisfying depth and breadth, without fluff and without being a curmudgeon. One of the things I especially like about this book: the last chapter addresses the problem of Christians living, working, and walking faithfully and uprightly in the art world. By addressing the artist's temptations as well as voicing an apologia and mission statement for his work, Turner has written a well-rounded handbook for being in and not of. Goes more in depth than Nancy Pearcey or Francis Schaeffer.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Todd Jenkins

    This is precisely the book that Christian artists of all walks need to be reading and learning from today. I received a copy from Charlie Peacock a couple of years ago and read it through cover to cover. I have since returned to it several times for renewed insight and inspiration. The author is best known as a poet, but his perceptiveness about the arts' role in Christianity is expansive. Two thumbs up! This is precisely the book that Christian artists of all walks need to be reading and learning from today. I received a copy from Charlie Peacock a couple of years ago and read it through cover to cover. I have since returned to it several times for renewed insight and inspiration. The author is best known as a poet, but his perceptiveness about the arts' role in Christianity is expansive. Two thumbs up!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    I never finished this one, but it really inspired me back in college when I was Jesus was my heart-throb and dance was my life! It's main message is that being creative is a Godly act, as God is a creator, and that anything that we create is a spiritual gift to the world--I remember that it encouraged Christians not to slam popular music just because it wasn't God-centered, because all of this creation is holy and magical. I never finished this one, but it really inspired me back in college when I was Jesus was my heart-throb and dance was my life! It's main message is that being creative is a Godly act, as God is a creator, and that anything that we create is a spiritual gift to the world--I remember that it encouraged Christians not to slam popular music just because it wasn't God-centered, because all of this creation is holy and magical.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Katharine

    Finally finished a long-overdue re-read of this book. I can't really go into detail describing it without lengthy quotations - but it's a call for higher standards of excellence in Christian art, and is SO on target that the target isn't even there anymore because this book blew it to bits. Highly recommended for all Christian artists of any genre and... all Christians, really. I find it incredibly inspiring and I now want to go paint things transcendently. Finally finished a long-overdue re-read of this book. I can't really go into detail describing it without lengthy quotations - but it's a call for higher standards of excellence in Christian art, and is SO on target that the target isn't even there anymore because this book blew it to bits. Highly recommended for all Christian artists of any genre and... all Christians, really. I find it incredibly inspiring and I now want to go paint things transcendently.

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