Religion and the Visual Arts:
Languages that Shape the Soul

Co-sponsored by
The Center for the Arts, Religion and Education
Berkeley, CA

Graduate Theological Union Library
2400 Ridge Road
Berkeley, California

The Role of the Visual Arts in Theological Education

This is the third in a series of symposia of the Society for the Arts, Religion, and Contemporary Culture (ARC) dealing with the role of the arts in theological education. The first was a dialogue with poets and with theologians from Lancaster Theological Seminary. The second dealt with music co-hosted by the Institute of Sacred Music at Yale. A third session to be held at Union Theological Seminary on May 1, 2004 will focus on a critical review of the arts in theological education.

Art does not set out to make us feel good although it may inspire us. Theology's objective is not to comfort but to enlighten. Each involves spiritual and intellectual search. Both are inspired by discovery and revelation. The beauty of art lies profoundly in the rigor and vision which makes the ordinary extraordinary, in the transcendence of the banal by design.

Does a similar process occur in theology in its efforts to seek God even in the mundane? Does the spirit enter in only when allowed by intellect or does the rigor of intellectual search ultimately lead to spiritual revelation? Why is it that these two crucial areas of human endeavor, so often intertwined and interdependent in the past, seem to have become so distant from each other, even to the extent of hostility? Is there something about the contemporary arts that is anathema to theology? Is there something about theology that is inimical to the arts? Why do artists and art teachers so often find inspiration in religious themes, yet many theologians seem to be ignorant of the inspirational value of the contemporary arts?

These are questions which we hope this symposium will address.

Patrick Quinn
Co-chair, ARC
Program Committee


All the sessions will be held at Graduate Theological Union Library in the 3rd floor Board Room.

8:45 a.m.-10:00 a.m. Welcome to Dr. John Dillenberger and by Doug Adams, Chair of the Symposium

SESSION ONE chaired by Dr. Bonnie Hardwick

9:30 a.m.- 10:00 a.m. "Spirituality and the Process of Creating Art" by Junko Chodos

10:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m. "Seeing Art through Buddhist Aesthetics" by Dr. Ronald Nakasone

10:30 a.m.-10:45 a.m. Discussion led by Dr. Naomi Seidman and Frances Naoko Hioki

10:45 a.m.-11:00 a.m. Coffee Break

SESSION TWO chaired by Dr. Doug Adams

11:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m. "Creating a Family of Winged Figures" by Stephen De Staebler

11:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. "De Staebler's Winged Figure: The Soul of the GTU" by Dr. Alejandro Garcia-Rivera

12:00 p.m.-12:15 p.m. Discussion led by Dr. Jane Daggett Dillenberger and Erling Hope

12:15 p.m.-1:45 p.m. Lunch and further time to view 14 art works by Junko Chodos and Winged Figure by Stephen De Staebler.

SESSION THREE chaired by Robert Rambusch

2:45 p.m.-2:15 p.m. "Beth Israel Memorial Chapel in Houston: Questions Arising" by Daniel Solomon

2:15 p.m.-2:45 p.m. "Mediocrity by Intention: Transcendence by Design" by Dr. Patrick Quinn

2:45 p.m.-3:00 p.m. Discussion led by Eliza Linley and Susan Sutton

3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. Panel chaired by Dr. Michael Morris and including the main presenters and Naomi Seidman

4:00 p.m.-4:10 p.m. Poem by Tim Nuveen

4:10 p.m.-5:30 p.m. Wine and Cheese Reception

For more information about the program and presenters

For more information about conference accomodations. or contact the Berkeley Convention and Visitors Bureau at 800-847-4823

Registration information:

Members/Fellows $45
Non-Members  $50; Students $15
Fee includes continental breakfast, lunch and reception.
($5.00 extra at the door.)

To register
 please contact Charles Henderson
Tel: 212-870-2544

To discuss this or other ARC programs, please check our message board

ARC Message Board

More about ARC
including membership information

From time to time the Board of Directors elects as Fellows individuals it identifies as having made a distinguished contribution to their respective fields. The list of Fellows elected over a period of nearly four decades thus exemplifies what the Society understands as the necessary and vital connections between art, religion and culture.

ARC Fellows


Fall 2003
Theology and Music

Spring 2003
Theology and Poetry:
Languages that Shape the Soul

Winter 2003
Tracing the Garden

Fall 2002
Drawing on the Human

Spring 2002
Alfred Barr and
the Religious Dimension of Modernism

Winter 2002
A Theology of Beauty

Fall 2001
Lifting the Veil

May 2001

February 2001
Performance and Symposium

November 2000
Illuminations & Transformations:
Cross-Cultural Spiritual Dynamics 
in Music, Text, Dance and Film

May 2000
Alternative Readings: 
Sacred Text Embodied in Visual Art

February 2000
The Meaning of Myth

November 1999
Myth, Ritual and the Mediation of Violence

May, 1999
Writers' Ways with Loving and Dying

February, 1999 
The Divine Image
Implications for a changing image of God.

October, 1998 
Uneasy Constellations of Meaning
Theological Perceptions and Visual Images in Sixteenth Century Europe &
The Religious Art of Andy Warhol

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May, 1998 Meeting
AYNI: The Andean Concept of Reciprocity

Webpage design courtesy CrossCurrents
Charles Henderson, Executive Director


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