All Things Beautiful
An Aesthetic Christology
Imprint: Baylor University Press
221 Pages, 5.50 x 8.50 in
- Published: September 2021
God calls humans to be creative. The human drive to represent transcendent truths witnesses to the fact that we are destined to be transfigured and to transfigure the world. It is worth asking, then, what truthful representations, whether in art, spirituality, or theology, teach us about the one who is our truth, the one who made us and the one in whose image we are made.
All Things Beautiful: An Aesthetic Christology is an experimental and constructive aesthetic Christology sourced by close readings of a wide array of artistic works, canonical and popular—including poems, films, essays, novels, plays, short stories, sculptures, icons, and paintings—as well as art criticism and passages from the Christian Scriptures. From first to last, these readings engage in conversation with the deep, broad wisdom of the Christian theological tradition. The liturgical calendar guides the themes of the book, beginning with Advent and Christmas; carrying through Epiphany, Ash Wednesday, Lent, Good Friday, Easter, and Ascension; and ending with Pentecost and Ordinary Time.
Chris Green brings together these readings to create a mosaic-like impression of Jesus as the one through whom God graces and gives nature to all things, his life and death redeeming the whole creation, including human creativity and artistic endeavor, and transfiguring it into the full, free flourishing that God has purposed. This vision of Christ holds promise for artists and theologians, as well as preachers and teachers, revealing how our compulsions to create—and the meanings with which we endow our creations—become a site of the Spirit’s presence, opening us to the goodness and wildness of God.
1 Painting a True Christ: Advent
2 All Things Beautiful in His Time: Christmas
3 The Name above All Names: Epiphany
4 God’s Scars: Ash Wednesday
5 Beauty Will Not Save the World: Lent
6 A Most Unspectacular Passion: Good Friday
7 The End of All Endings: Easter
8 The Creative Gaze: Ascension
9 Fire and Ashes: Pentecost
10 More Than Many Sparrows: Ordinary Time
A thoughtful, gracious, and stimulating book. All Things Beautiful will be a source of considerable encouragement to many who live (and struggle) in the borderlands of Christian faith and art.~Jeremy Begbie, Thomas A. Langford Distinguished Professor of Theology, Duke University
Chris E. W. Green’s All Things Beautiful contemplatively thinks with a gorgeous array of artists—from literary beacons like Toni Morrison to cinematic luminaries like Terrence Malick to poetic lights like Deborah Digges—as it shows the reader why theological aesthetics is not ancillary to but at the very heart of systematic theological concerns. Organized by the feasts and seasons of the church and teeming with vivid descriptions of art, All Things Beautiful is crafted with care and thought, more akin to a work of art than to the typical work of theology. An inviting and immensely rewarding read.~Natalie Carnes, Associate Professor of Theology, Baylor University
’Lovers are the ones who know most about God,’ Hans Urs von Balthasar said; ‘the theologian must listen to them.’ But it's artists who write our love songs. Chris Green’s marvelous book creatively extends this intuition. If Christ is the ikon of the invisible God, we do well to attend to those arts that paint pictures of the invisible—whether in pigment or poetry, on screen or on canvas. This book is ultimately an invitation, not only to see afresh but to be seen anew.~James K. A. Smith, Professor of Philosophy, Calvin University