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Growing up as a missionary kid in Guatemala, David Taylor was learning the meaning of beauty before he even realized it. Taylor names the tropical landscape as one of five key elements in shaping his own identity as an artist. The others: listening to his mother play classical music on her grand piano; watching his father tend orchids in the backyard greenhouse; reading "books outside my tradition" recommended by his Regent College professors, including Eugene Peterson; and "being given permission to try and fail—again and again—by the leadership of Hope Chapel [in Austin, Texas], as I sought to discover what an arts ministry was supposed to be about."

Taylor, Hope Chapel's arts pastor for eight years, is now studying theology and liturgy in the doctoral program at Duke Divinity School, with an eye toward establishing an arts center in Austin. He has just released his first book, for the Beauty of the Church: Casting a Vision for the Arts (Baker), with contributions from such culture observers as Peterson, Andy Crouch, Lauren Winner, Barbara Nicolosi, and Taylor himself. He hopes his book will "offer the church a theologically informed, biblically deepened, liturgically sensitive, artistically robust, and missionally shrewd vision for the arts."

Question & Answer

What is beauty?

Classically, the approach has been to see beauty in terms of three qualities: unity, complexity, and radiance. The textured parts of Shakespeare's Hamlet hold together in a way that keeps us asking for it again and again. But that can also be true of a Texas barbecue, the four beasts of Revelation, and the athleticism of Kobe Bryant. We shouldn't stop with classical ideas about beauty; we also need to think about beauty Christologically. ...

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May 2010

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