A Creative Church: The Arts and Century of Renewal was written by Todd Smith. Todd Smith is currently director of Liberty University’s Art Gallery, Studio Art, and Graphic Design. He has spent most of his career teaching and creating various works of art. (insert ciation) A Creative Church: The Arts and Century of Renewal is Todd’s most recent creation. He is an accomplished artist but this book may show that writing historical literature may not be his strong suit. A Creative Church: The Arts and Century of Renewal attempts to document the arts with in the church, but fails to give meaning to the dates that it lists.
A Creative Church: The Arts and Century of Renewal, highlights the major movements and individuals, from the later 19th century to the present day, that played a significant part in transforming the church and art. The major theme of the book was about the America church and its transform. The author did not neglect the achievements of foreign churches and made a point to show how their work had an impact on the church. Smith pointed out four major genres of art that he thought made the most change in with in the church, Dance, music, theatre and visual arts. Out Of the four genres, the author seemed to emphasize theater and Music. The author states that the Theatre gave a new perspective to the life of Christians and their struggle to uphold those Christian values. T.S Elliot’s play Murder at the Cathedral emphasized martyrdom and sacrifice as well as church history (Eliot, 1935). As theater grew so did Christian music which was used to compliment the drama. Music was an artistic medium that uniquely communicates the passions of the Bible. Modern Christian music has strayed away from the classical slow and reverent melodies of the hymns and is now more upbeat an reflects the passions of Christian’s. (Bearman, 2000) A Creative Church: The Arts and Century of Renewal is an academically accurate documentation of the history of the arts and the church, but is lacking the readability that every book should have.
At first glance the book looked put together and chronicles the history into nice neat separate paragraph. However, it is nothing more than a choppy collection of periods in time where a certain genre of art changed the church or how the church changed that art form. The author does show how each major accomplishment became a stepping stone for the next generation. Yet, after a few chapters this noticeable progression became tedious. The phrase “at the same time” comes up far too frequently. A Creative Church: The Arts and Century of Renewal almost became a bore to read. If an individual wanted to understand what this book was about. All he or she would have to do, is start with the first beginning sentences, then a few from the middle of the chapter, and then read the last paragraph at the end of the chapter and he would have an basic understanding of how the chapter started and how it ended. The transition and details of a book should play just as an important of a role as the main points do. Some parts of the A Creative Church: The Arts and Century of Renewal contained just a list of the accomplishments, individual, or organization, but would not explain the significance of the accomplishment or why that accomplishment was important at all. Most, if not all, history literature gives a reason why this or that accomplishment was important. Whether it brought forth a new era or maybe it expanded the meaning of a certain subject matter. There where some parts of the book that didn’t even make sense or should not have been included. For example chapter 8 has no business being the book. The chapter gives no historical, philosophical, or theological insight into Christian art. The chapter is nothing more than a list of churches and Christian organizations with a small summary under each one. The writing style would sometimes change. Most notably when reading the “pioneer creative” sections of the book. Each pioneer creative would feature an individual and would be a small testimonial about how they got to where they did and how what they did affect the church. In summation, the book did well in bring forth the facts about the church and its transformation in the arts, but failed to detail the ramifications or greater meaning that these movements made within the church.
All in all the book was written more like a scientific journal and failed to be what it sought out to be; a glimpse into the history of the church’s artistic transformation. Literature is like any art form, needs to be able to convey the thought and the emotion of the idea or message that the artist wants to convey to the observer.