Terry Glaspey – 75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know

From Volume 1, Issue 4, 2017

EOF: Could you tell the audience what inspired you to write 75 Masterpieces?

GLASPEY: There were really a couple reasons that I came to write the book. The first is that in my own life, I have been so personally enriched by great art, great music, great literature, great films. I found that oftentimes the really high-quality art will take me to a different place of understanding; in my understanding of God, my understanding of the world. Even in my understanding of myself. I think that some of the great Christian art through the ages has probably touched me more deeply and influenced me more profoundly than really any works of theology or spirituality that I have read. So, a lot of it just a thing of saying, “Ok, this is just something that has personally had an impact on me.” I want to be kind of a cheerleader for getting Christians involved in great art. Along with that, I think that the second thing is that as someone who is a student of history, I am always interested in history, I realize that most Christians just don’t have a very deep sense of their heritage. Most Christians, for the most part, especially in the evangelical movement, Christianity may as well have been invented by Billy Graham in the 1950’s, For as much historical awareness that they have. I thought, “I am someone who is interested in the development of theology and the church but I am also interested in the heritage that we have as believers in the creative sphere.” And so what I wanted to do is put together in one readable volume a look at some of the great art and the people behind it; visual art, music, literature, film, architecture — all the arts. To say we have this amazingly deep heritage; something of which we can be proud.

And of course we are from the Creator, which is why we are so creative; to be able to do these masterpieces. Really we are just enjoying God.

Exactly. As Tolkien said, “We are all sub-creators.” In our creativity, we are working with the elements that God has already placed within the universe and we just rearrange them to create something new. Creativity is like an amazing sort of partnership with God, I think, and that’s one of the reasons why art has this inherent spiritually transformative power to it.

As an Anglican I don’t say this often, but I would interject that evangelicals of late, over the last twenty years or so, have been starting to delve into the first three centuries of church philosophy and then great books like yours have helped them understand that there is more than just what is happening now.

That is exactly true. What is interesting, if you look through my book, is that the Anglican tradition tradition is extremely well represented. I think that is largely because there is something inherent in a sacramental and eucharistic view of the world that tends to feed and nurture the creative spirit. The idea of the depths of meaning in our symbols; that they actually can become a place for the presence of God. I think that opens the door to art and I think that is why the Anglican and Catholic traditions have produced more great art than any of the other Protestant traditions.

That is true and leads me into the next question. With so much visual art and music and literature that is available, how were you able to trim it down to the top 75?

 

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