Creating the Conversation: The Dialogue Between Theology and Aesthetics
The theologian and the artist share many of the same tasks. Both penetrate the surface of everyday life, seeking meaning beyond the mundane, to answer the great existential questions of life. Both seek truth, beauty, and an attentive audience. Both "provide the patterns of meaning, the frames of perception, by which society interprets its experiences and from which it makes conclusions about the nature of its world." However, it should be noted that the "truths" that they seek may be considerably different from one another, the sought "beauty" may often be distinct (or even conflicting); and their understandings of the world and ultimate reality may be ideologically opposed. These conclusions might lead one to deem the differences between the two disciplines irreconcilable. The goal of this project will be to present such a case for the implementation of an aesthetic theology within Christianity. This argument is directed at both the formal theologians and the "everyday" theologians, those desiring to make judgments regarding ultimate reality in life. For both types contemplate aesthetic creations every day and aesthetic creations in the context of religion almost as often. My argument will closely parallel but not be limited to Frank Burch Brown's neo-aesthetic project, found in his book Religious Aesthetics: A Theological Study of Making and Meaning. I propose to extend his argument a step further to show not only that aesthetic theology is possible and desirable, but also that it ought to be definitely implemented into theological and cultic practice. It is necessary that theologians of both formal and informal varieties develop an aesthetic awareness and adapt their understanding of both theology and religion.