Calling on God:
Inclusive Christian Prayers for Three Years of Sundays
with Peter Bankson
Both of us grew up in a world where God was referred to almost exclusively in male terms. After a lifetime of prayer, contemplation, and study, we have come to understand that God is bigger, deeper, and more mysterious than the “old man in the sky” image that peers down on us from countless Renaissance paintings. Reading our Bibles, we find God spoken of as the rock of our salvation, imagined as a spring of living water, likened to a mother hen gathering her chicks under her wing. Metaphors like these remind us that it is impossible to comprehend God in any one image. If we human beings are made in the image of God, then everyone—men and women; old and young; people who are gay, straight, bi, transgender, or impossible to define; those whose skin is dark and those whose skin is pale, and any other kind of people we leave out of any list—everyone needs to be able to see themselves included in our images of God. Inclusive, expansive, imaginative language for God that we present in this book opens us, and those with whom we pray, to the Divine Mystery who holds us all in love.
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Inviting Conversation between Artists, Theologians, and the Church
As an artist, I have often been surprised and dismayed by the unexamined attitudes and assumptions that the church holds about how artists think and how art functions in human life. By investigating these attitudes and tying them to concrete examples, I hope to demystify art—to bring art down to earth, where theologians, pastors, and ordinary Christians can wrestle with its meanings, participate in its processes, and understand its uses. In showing the commonalities and distinctions among the various ways that artists themselves approach their work, Sanctifying Art can help the church talk about the arts in ways that artists will recognize. As a member of both the church and the art world, I want to bridge the gap between the habits of thought that inform the discourse of the art world and those quite different ideas about art that are taken for granted by many Christians. When art is understood as intellectual, technical, and physical as well as ethereal, mysterious, and sacred, we will see it as an integral part of our life together in Christ, fully human and fully divine.