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Religions 2019, 10(2), 89; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020089

Beyond Making and Unmaking: Re-Envisioning Sacred Art

Centre for Lifelong Learning, The University of York, Heslington, York YO10 5DD, UK
Received: 16 December 2018 / Revised: 18 January 2019 / Accepted: 28 January 2019 / Published: 31 January 2019
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Abstract

This paper engages with predominantly Eastern Orthodox thinkers in reassessing the conditions under which sacred art may be possible today. The sacred has both ontological and cultural aspects. An artwork is sacred, firstly, by virtue of partaking of transcendent realities; and secondly, by being embedded in a worldview which allows the work to be made and received as sacred. Drawing on the thought of Philip Sherrard, the paper suggests that current conditions are characterised by cultural forgetting and the loss of such a metaphysical worldview. This paper proposes that the possibilities of sacred art must be rediscovered from within the practices of particular arts; and that this goes hand in hand with the rediscovery of a sacred ontology and of a Christian understanding of freedom. The paper will follow David Bentley Hart in affirming a theological understanding of freedom—as the orientation towards, and the attainment of communion with, ontological goods—against the prevalent postmodern and ultimately nihilistic notion of freedom as spontaneous volition. It is crucial, therefore, to also identify those transcendent goods towards which art may fruitfully be directed. In this light, the paper proposes the need to revise our concepts of matter, form, and, above all, beauty. View Full-Text
Keywords: sacred; art; freedom; beauty sacred; art; freedom; beauty
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Gustafsson, D. Beyond Making and Unmaking: Re-Envisioning Sacred Art. Religions 2019, 10, 89.

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