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Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Searching for a post postmodern theology in art and literature

Interesting reflections on art and spirituality from David Jasper can be found here. Among those whose work is considered are Paul Celan, Le Corbusier, Ding Fang, Anselm Kiefer, Stanley Spencer and Bill Viola.

Some of these reflections recur in Jasper's The Sacred Community, part of a trilogy using art, literature and theology to explore themes of desert, body and community. In this book, Jasper draws upon a rich variety of texts and images from literature, art, and religious tradition to explore the liturgical community gathered around - and most fully constituted by - the moment of the Sanctus in the Eucharistic liturgy.

Jasper has written of the series that, with:

"The Sacred Desert ... my research has ranged from some of the earliest of Christian theologians - the Fathers of the desert such as St. Anthony - to writers on the 'deserts' of the modern world, both geographical and interior ... I have worked with art historians and artists including the prominent video artist Bill Viola, whose installations capture both the fertility of the desert for the human spirit, and the desolations of the desert of the modern cityscape. My work now continues this project, exploring the aesthetics of asceticism in the Christian tradition and in art and literature.

One colleague has described my work as a search for a post postmodern theology. I am concerned to ask where we might begin to find and articulate a theology as the Christian churches and their traditions in the West at least fall into decay. The canvas of my thought is therefore broad and eclectic, from medieval mystics like Meister Eckhart to contemporary radical theologians like Thomas J J Altizer. I have learnt much from the great 'desert' texts of the twentieth century in various disciplines - from Karl Barth's Römerbrief and Heidegger's Sein und Zeit to T S Eliot's Wasteland and Arnold Schoenberg's unfinished opera Moses und Aron. My work is therefore deeply interdisciplinary though at the same time thoroughly theological, asking questions in the spaces and interstices between disciplines and ideas. The aim is to write a new kind of (un) systematic theology."


Arnold Schoenberg - Moses und Aron.

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