Taste and see that the Lord is good.” For Joel Clarkson, a composer and Berklee College of Music graduate, words like these (from Psalm 34:8) offer much more than a metaphor. In Sensing God: Experiencing the Divine in Nature, Food, Music, and Beauty, Clarkson, now pursuing a theology PhD at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, shows how our physical senses can point the way to a larger understanding of our Creator and his workmanship. Recording artist and record producer Charlie Peacock spoke with Clarkson about the many touch points between Christian faith and everyday life.
What does it look like to cultivate a theology of the senses?
We live in a world of experience, and this is a core aspect of our faith. It’s not that faith is on one side, with everyday experiences on the other. These actually go together. Within our daily lives, there are many touch points: the food we eat, the music we listen to, the people we meet, and the nature we encounter.
I hope my book conveys the idea that the world, and our lives within it, are crammed with heaven. Heavenly activity doesn’t just occur during transcendent moments, like seeing the northern lights or hearing a beautiful concert. Even amid the mundane, we can encounter God’s presence. And this isn’t a matter of doing something new so much as changing our perspective within the space we already occupy.
Enjoying God through our senses opens up a larger experience of the world and life in Christ. Scripture is full of the language of desire, and we are called to worship the Lord in the beauty of his holiness. Our intellect and senses work together toward the end of loving God with our whole hearts.
In the book, I argue that we love and desire beauty ...1
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