CIVA Recommends

CIVA Recommends is a bibliography featuring books and articles related to art and faith. Many of these entries are annotated and all are arranged in alpha-order according to the author’s last name.


Adams, Doug and Michael E. Moynahan, eds. Postmodern Worship & the Arts. Resource Publications, 2002.

Anderson, Cameron J. and Sandra Bowden, eds. Faith and Vision: Twenty-Five Years of Christians in the Visual Arts. Baltimore, MD: Square Halo Press, 2005.

Apostolos-Cappadona, Diane. Dictionary of Christian Art. Cambridge, UK: Lutterworth Press, 1995.

Arthurs, Alberta and Glenn Wallach, eds. Crossroads: Art and Religion in American Life. New York: The New Press, 2001.


Barber, John. The Road from Eden: Studies in Christianity and Culture. Palo Alto, CA: Academica Press, 2008.

A comprehensive study of major developments in the history of Christianity and Western culture, including art, music, philosophy, theology, science, and politics. It is written from the perspective of reformed theology and utilizing the careful analytical tools of the Dutch scholars Vollenhoven, Dooyeward, and others, although it remains more biblical than the Dutch idea of the philosophy of law.

Baron, Robert. Heaven in Stone and Glass: Experiencing the Spirituality of the Gothic Cathedrals. New York: Crossroad Publishing, 2000.

Begbie, Jeremy. Beholding the Glory: Incarnation Through the Arts. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2000.

____________. Voicing Creations Praise: Towards a Theology of the Arts. New York, NY: T & T Clark International Publishers, 2000.

Belting, Hans. Likeness and Presence: A History of the Image in the Era Before Art, trans., Edmund Jephcott. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1997.

Berry, Ian ed. Tim Rollins and K.O.S.: A History. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2009.

This catalog of nearly 30 years of work by CIVA member Tim Rollins in collaboration with K.O.S. (Kids of Survival) accompanies a traveling exhibition organized by Ian Berry of the Tang Museum. The catalog also contains an essay on the history of Rollins’ collaboration with K.O.S. by CIVA member James Romaine.

Berry, Wendell. It All Turns on Affection: The Jefferson Lecture & Other Essays. Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2012.

De Borchgrave, Helen. A Journey into Christian Art. Oxford, UK: Lion Hudson, 2001.

Botts, Timothy R. Portraits of the Word: Great Verses of the Bible in Expressive Calligraphy. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2002.

_____________. The Holy Bible, NLT Illustrated edition. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2000.

Bowden, Sandra ed. Beauty Given by Grace: The Biblical Prints of Sadao Watanabe. Baltimore, MD: Square Halo, 2012.

Arguably, this is the best book in print featuring the work of Japanese print maker Sadao Watanabe. In addition to dozens of splendid full-color reproductions, Sandra Bowden, Makoto Fujimura, I. John Hesselink, and John A. Kohan have all contributed essays.

Bowden, Sandra and Marianne Lettieri. Seeing the Unseen: Launching and Managing a Church Gallery. Madison, WI: Christians in the Visual Arts, 2015.

Brueggemann, Walter. The Prophetic Imagination. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2001.

Readers who are artists only have to substitute the word “artist” for “prophet” in Brueggemann’s book to discover an urgent message concerning the relationship of the Gospel and dominant culture. While not suggesting that all people (or artists) are prophets, Brueggemann wisely does suggest that whatever our role in society there is likely a legitimate place in it for some form of prophesy. This book does as well as any I know of to help artists realize and benefit from the great resource of prophetic tradition as a model for artistic thinking and acting. —Joel Sheesley

Brusic, Robert M. and Jerry Evenrud. And Grace Will Lead Me Home: The Jerry Evenrud Collection of Images of the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Minneapolis, MN: Lutheran University Press, 2007.

The simple story of sin and forgiveness is the Parable of the Prodigal Son has captivated and inspired the imaginations of millions of readers since Luke first put the parable to page. On deeper reflection, the story is not really so simple. One quick perusal through the pages of this book will confirm that the parable is complex in structure and rich in meaning. Taken from the collection of CIVA member Jerry Evenrud, this book gives a fresh look at an ancient tale.

Buber, Martin. I & Thou, trans. Walter Kaufmann. New York: Simon & Shuster, 1970.

This book explores a foundational understanding of how we “meet” the world, other persons, and God. It elucidates a profound vision of the arts, philosophy, and theology with a poetic/prophetic voice. Buber’s scholarly grasp of the biblical tradition deeply undergirds this visionary book. —Bruce Herman

Bunge, Gabriel. The Rublev Trinity, trans. A. Louth. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2007.

This little book, written by a Benedictine monk, offers an in-depth meditation on Andrei Rublev’s famous icon, The Holy Trinity, revealing it to be the result of Rublev’s own spiritual formation and his life in the church. —Daniel Siedell

Bustard, Ned. Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-Ups. Baltimore, MD: Square Halo Books, 2015.

Bustard, Ned ed. It Was Good: Making Art to the Glory of God. Baltimore, MD: Square Halo Books, 2007.

A Christian looks at the world through the eyes of one who has a restored relationship with the Creator and receives a new vision affecting every area of life—including the creative process. So what does it mean to be a creative individual who is a follower of the creative God? This book seeks to answer that question through a series of essays that offer theoretical and practical insights into art making from a Christian perspective. The Christian worldview is foundational to the approach a believer in Christ takes to making art; and art making inevitably raises difficult questions. This book offers aid in developing some of the internal tools needed to work through those questions, and so glorify and enjoy God while trying to speak with a clear and relevant voice to a fallen world.


Campbell, Douglas G. Seeing: When Art and Faith Intersect. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2002.

Chinn, Nancy and David Philippart. Spaces for Spirit: Adorning the Church. Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1998.

Nancy Chinn initiates a wide-ranging and vigorous discussion about the use of visual arts in the worship environment. How have visual arts been used in the Christian tradition? What are some of the hesitations and fears that artists and the church have about each other? In addition to exploring these questions, Spaces for Spirit will help parish artists find new insight in the basic elements of design. Numerous case studies of actual parish art projects are provided.

Cooper, James F. Knights of the Brush: The Hudson River School and the Moral Landscape. Manchester, VT: Hudson Hills Press, 1999.

Crown, Carol ed. Coming Home! Self-Taught Artists, the Bible, and the American South. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2004.

In the South, Evangelical Christianity is predominant. Essays in this catalog explore this particular religious influence on the work of Southern self-taught artists. The artwork is considered within the context of contemporary American art, history, literature, and music. Also included are brief essays on thirty-two of the artists along with biographical sketches of each, identifying denominational ties and providing relevant religious information. Examining 125 works of art by more than 70 contemporary folk artists, Coming Home! Self-Taught Artists, the Bible, and the American South accompanies a traveling exhibition organized by the Art Museum of the University of Memphis. The exhibition features painters and sculptors of wide acclaim, including Finster, Sister Morgan, William Edmondson, Clementine Hunter, Joe Minter Elijah Pierce, Robert Roberg, William Thomas Thompson, and Myrtice West.

Curtis, Adam Director. The Trap: Whatever Happened to our Dream of Freedom? London: BBC, 2007.

Some may say this documentarian and journalist paints in the broad strokes of the propagandist, but I know of no better account of how the myth of individualism became as entrenched as it is in modern consumption, art, and politics. Beware, his is a dark lens—but so was the apostle Paul’s when he preached by the altar to an unknown god. –Kevin Hamilton.


Daichendt, G. James. Artist Teacher: A Philosophy for Creating and Teaching. Bristol, UK: Intellect, 2010.

Daichendt, G. James and Christina Valentine. Un/Common Objects: Lynn Aldrich. Pasadena: Art Center College of Design, 2013.

Daus-Edwards, Kim. Force of the Spirit. Salzburg, AT: Indaba Publishing, 2005.

A survey of black and white photographs seeking to find the holy in everyday life. As the artist says, “This collection of images is a chronicle, a storybook. It shows what I have seen, where I have been, people I’ve met along the way. Through these photographs I share feelings, reflections, and growth.”

Davis, Ellen F. and Margaret Adams Parker. Who are You, My Daughter: Reading Ruth through Image and Text. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003.

De Young, Kevin and Illustrated by Don Clark. The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings us Back to the Garden. Wheaton: Crossway, 2015.

One of the best children’s biblical storybooks I have encountered. DeYoung compellingly presents the scriptures as a continuous adventure, and Invisible Creature design studio (Seattle) cofounder Don Clark’s illustrations are visually stunning. —Joe Cory

Dillard, Annie. Holy the Firm. New York: Harper and Row, 1977.

Exquisitely written, critically dense, transcendently realized, philosophically informed, unbearably beautiful description of raw reality, questions into hard things unflinchingly… Her narrative essay of a moth caught by its abdomen in the liquid wax of a lit candle, its immolation and action as a wick is a simply brilliant inquiry into the relation of spiritual, intellectual and material life; inspiration, vocation and reality. Her themes are the relation of eternity to time and the problem of suffering innocents. —Erica Grimm

_______________. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. New York: Harper’s Magazine Press, 1974.

Pulitzer Prize winning narrative study of seeing. Her second chapter tracks the drawing curriculum in an uncanny way; I read her description of the tree with lights in it to my drawing students every semester. Superb use of language to evoke moments when seeing becomes transformative. –Erica Grimm

De Duve, Thierry. “When Form Becomes Attitude—And Beyond,” in The Artist and The Academy, edited by Nicholas de Ville and Stephen Foster. South Hampton: John Hansard Gallery, 1994, 23-44.

This short essay, included in the anthology Theory in Contemporary Art Since 1985 (which I don’t recommend purchasing), explains simply and clearly why art is taught the way it is today at the college and graduate levels. Every time I assign it to students, the universal response is “Why didn’t someone tell me this before?” I don’t recommend this because I think de Duve knows where to go from the mess we’re in, but because no one has diagnosed the problems and challenges better. –Kevin Hamilton

Dixon, John W. Jr. The Christ of Michelangelo. Tampa, FL: University of South Florida, 1994.

Eusden, John Dykstra. Sensing Beauty: Aesthetics, the Human Spirit, and the Church. Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 1998.

This book discusses aesthetics and Christianity and how it affects the human spirit. An exploration of “the many ways in which worship, prayer, and learning are inextricably, and gloriously, connected with art and beauty.”

Dyrness, William. Reformed Theology and Visual Culture: The Protestant Imagination from Calvin to Edwards. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

With the walls of their churches bereft of imagery and color and their worship centered around sermons with carefully constructed outlines (as opposed to movement and drama), Reformed Protestants have often been accused of being dour and unimaginative. Here, William Dyrness explores the roots of Reformed theology in an attempt to counteract these prevailing notions. Studying sixteenth-century Geneva and England, seventeenth-century England and Holland and seventeenth and eighteenth-century Puritan New England, Dyrness argues that though this tradition impeded development of particular visual forms, it encouraged others, especially in areas of popular culture and the ordering of family and community. Exploring the theology of John Calvin, William Ames, John Cotton and Jonathan Edwards, Dyrness shows how this tradition created a new aesthetic of simplicity, inwardness, and order to express underlying theological commitments. With over 40 illustrations, this book will prove invaluable to those interested in the Reformed tradition.

_______________. Rouault: a Vision of Suffering and Salvation. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1971.

A remarkable research into the life and theology behind Georges Rouault, a Catholic and early 20th century artist. —Makoto Fujimura.

_______________. Senses of the Soul: Art in the Visual in Christian Worship. Eugene, OR: Cascade: 2008.

_______________. Visual Faith: Art, Theology, and Worship in Dialogue. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001.


Elkins, James. On the Strange Place of Religion in Contemporary Art. New York: Rutledge, 2004.

Ergenbright, Ric and Dana Ergenbright. The Image of God. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2004.


Falke, Damon and Rebekah Wilkins-Pepiton, Broken Cycles. Shechem Press, 2007.

Containing 33 poems and 44 black and white photographs of growing up, growing older, and remembering, this book cycles through seasons, places, and stages of life. Just as the title of their collection accommodates paradox, so too do the images and poems the collection contains.

Fentress, Sam. Bible Road: Signs of Faith in the American Landscape. Devon, UK: David and Charles Publishing, 2007.

Over the last 25 years while driving through 49 states, Sam Fentress encountered thousands of religious signs along America’s highways, city streets, and country roads. With over 150 images from every region of the country, Bible Road: Signs of Faith in the American Landscape is his photographic chronicle of what he discovered on beauty salon windows, highway pylons, silos and burger joint marquees. Aware that photographers Walker Evans, Berenice Abbott, Robert Frank, and others had only partially documented the subject, Fentress embarked on this remarkable and singular typology of roadside evangelism in America.

Flora, Holly. This Anguished World of Shadows: Georges Rouault’s Misere Et Guerre. London, UK: D. Giles Limited, 2006.

At the start of World War I, Georges Rouault received a commission for a series of prints illustrating themes of human suffering and the hardships of war, later published under the title Miserere et Guerre. In these poignant and haunting impressions, clowns, prostitutes, rulers, fools, loners, mothers, and children are among the subjects depicted as types of the suffering Christ. This catalogue coincides with an exhibition at the Museum of Biblical Art which presents—for the first time in nearly 40 years in New York—the entire group of 58 black and white prints, along with selected oil paintings Rouault executed as studies for the series.

Finaldi, Gabriele. The Image of Christ: The Catalogue of the Exibition Seeing Salvation. London, UK: National Gallery Publications, 2000.

Florensky, Pavel. Iconostasis. 1922, Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2000.

This book offers a profound introduction to the theory and practice of the icon and offers concrete examples of how it differs from Western art. —Daniel Siedell

Ford, David. Self and Salvation: Being Transformed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

An examination of the basis of selfhood in relation to others—the “hospitable self;” “self without idols;” “worshipping self;” “singing self;” and finally “eucharistic self”—all as a way of truly modeling our lives on Christ’s self-donating stance. Reading outside our specialty in art can only strengthen our vision. Like Buber’s I & Thou, this book goes to the heart of who we are and why we need community. —Bruce Herman

Fujimura, Makoto. Culture Care: Reconnecting with Beauty for our Common Life. New York: Fujimura Institute, 2014.

______________. Refractions: A Journey of Faith, Art, and Culture. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2001.


Gasque, Laurel. Art and the Christian Mind: The Life and Work of H.R. Rookmaaker. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2005.

Gasque has produced an excellent biography on influential Dutch art historian, Hans Rookmaaker. Originally produced to be part of The Complete Works of Hans Rookmaaker (Piquant Editions), the volume is now released as a single volume by Crossway Books. Gasque provides insight into a person whose work and writings had a deep impact on many of the founding members of CIVA. This book and The Complete Works (which is also available in a searchable CD format) prove that Rookmaaker’s vision and thought are just as pertinent to today’s Christians as they were over four decades ago.


Hamilton, Kevin ed. Tim Lowly: Trying to Get a Sense of Scale. Chicago: North Park University, 2013.

Hansen, G. Walter and Bruce Herman. Through Your Eyes: Dialogues on the Paintings of Bruce Herman. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013.

Heartney, Eleanor. Postmodernism. London: Tate, 2001.

Hertzlieb, Gregg ed. Domestic Vision: Twenty-Five Years of the Art of Joel Sheesley. Minneapolis: Lutheran University Press, 2008.

Hettinga, Kathy. Grave Images: San Luis Valley. Santa Fe, NM: Museum of New Mexico Press, 2009.

Beginning in 1994, Hettinga began a fourteen-year project to document an unknown body of funerary folk art displayed in the cemeteries of rural and largely Hispanic communities in the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado. Her photographs of unique grave markers made of wood, concrete, metal, sandstone, glass, and other materials by individuals or families to commemorate the passing of loved ones capture the ethereal beauty of the cemeteries and serve as a touchstone for our common understanding of loss, grief, and the need to memorialize and pay tribute.

Hyde, Lewis. The Gift. 1983: New York: Vintage Books, 2007.

One of the best books to explain why art is a gift and not a commodity. There is interesting theological overlap in this book that became an “underground” best seller among the avant-gardes in New York City. —Makoto Fujimura.


Jensen, Robin Margaret. Understanding Early Christian Art. New York: Routledge, 2000.

Johnson, Robert K. Reel Spirituality, Theology and Film in Dialogue. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006.

The motion picture is an art form that has significantly influenced human culture. Films can shape our perceptions—from relationships and careers to good and evil. They are often a window into the human soul, a glimpse that can be both terrifying and holy. In view of the increasingly powerful role that movies play in our cultural dialogue, Robert K. Johnston, professor of theology and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary, has written a book to guide Christian moviegoers into a theological analysis of and conversation with film. Intended for use in the college and seminary classroom, Reel Spirituality helps Christians interpret movies through the eyes of faith. It provides the theological underpinnings for this art form and fosters both dialogue and discipleship. Among the more than 200 movies Johnston cites are American Beauty, The Apostle, The English Patient, The Godfather, Life Is Beautiful, The Sound of Music, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Truman Show.


Kapikian, Catherine. Art in Service of the Sacred. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2006.

Art in Service of the Sacred encourages congregations to take seriously the role of visual art in worship and in the broader life of the church. This rich resource explores the dynamics between the art, the artist, and the church. It proclaims the power of art when used as art, reclaims the presence of religious symbols in worship, asserts the importance of the aesthetic dimensions of ecclesial space, and recovers the role of visual art to engage our senses and imaginations as we seek to encounter God in our lives.


Madeline L’Engle, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art. Wheaton, IL: Harold Shaw Publishers, 1980.

L’Engle explores what it means to be a Christian artist and what separates Christian art from what has often been called secular. While the text explores L’Engle’s journey as a writer, it applies equally to all stripes of artists. When asked to describe where faith stops and art begins, L’Engle explains that there is no separating the two—”it means attempting to share the meaning of my life, what gives it, for me, its tragedy and its glory.” The exquisite prose of this book has made it a classic on the topic of art and faith.

Lewis, C. S. The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses. 1949, New York: HarperCollins, 2001.


MacGregor, Neil and Erica Langmuir. Seeing Salvation: Images of Christ in Art. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000.

Martin, James Alfred Jr. Beauty and Holiness: The Dialogue between Aesthetics and Religion. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990.

Matthews, Thomas F. The Clash of Gods: A Reinterpretation of Early Christian Art. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999.

McCleary, Mary Harold Fickett, and Clint Willour. After Paradise. Baltimore, MD: Square Halo Books, 2006.

A full color catalog of the collages of CIVA member Mary McCleary from an exhibition of the same title.

McCollough, Charles R. and Maren C. Tirabassi. Faith Made Visible: Shaping the Human Spirit in Sculpture and Word. Cleveland, OH: United Church Press, 2000.

McManners, John ed. The Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Miles, Margaret R. Image As Insight: Visual Understanding in Western Christianity and Secular Culture. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2006.

Murray, Peter and Linda Murray. The Oxford Companion to Christian Art and Architecture. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.


Niebuhr, Richard. Christ and Culture. New York: Harper & Row, 1951.

Contemporary readers who are artists will profit from reading each of Niebuhr’s five “Christian/cultural” strategies as “artist/cultural” strategies. What does it mean to be an artist who is “against culture,” “of culture,” whose work aims “above culture,” or whose work finds itself in a “paradoxical” relationship to culture, or who makes work that actually aims to “transform” the whole notion of what art is? I’ve used this book as a personal guide to understanding my own varied directions in art over the last 35 years. —Joel Sheesley


O’Connor, Flannery. Mystery and Manners. New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1969.

What does it mean to be a Christian and an artist? In this collection of essays Flannery O’Connor takes the subject head on. You may not always agree with her, but she represents her own position with memorable clarity and precision. —Joel Sheesley


Pelikan, Jaroslay.  The Illustrated Jesus Through the Centuries. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997.

______________. Imago Dei: The Byzantine Apologia for Icons. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990.

______________. Mary Through the Centuries: Her Place in the History of Culture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998.

Pongracz, Patricia C. and Wayne Roosa. The Next Generation: Contemporary Expressions of Faith. New York: Museum of Biblical Art | Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2005.

This book features an introduction by Patricia Pongrancz and a lengthy and insightful essay by Wayne Roosa entitled, “Dancing in the Dark, Waltzing in Wonder: Contemporary Art about Faith.” The handsome volume also includes color plates featuring the work of 44 artists, many of them members of CIVA over the years. —Cameron J. Anderson

Prescott, Theodore ed. A Broken Beauty. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 2005.

This book features works of art by fifteen North American artists who explore non-traditional notions of beauty in the human body. These works introduce brokenness—physical, mental, and spiritual—into their renderings of human figures. Bearing witness to the surprising beauty found in moments of suffering, loss, and injury, they turn Western ideas of beauty on their head and inside out. In addition to exquisite color reproductions, the book contains five informative essays on art and religion by respected art historians and curators, including: Theodore Prescott, Timothy Verdon, Lisa deBoer, and Gordon Fuglie. Featured artists: Gabrielle Bakker, Stephen De Staebler, Gaela Erwin, Erica Grimm-Vance, Rick Harden, Bruce Herman, Edward Knippers, Timothy Lowly, Mary McCleary, John Nava, David J. Robinson, Joel C. Sheesley, Melissa Weinman, Patty Wickman, and Jerome Witkin.


Quash, Ben. Found Theology: History, Imagination, and the Holy Spirit. London: Bloomsbury, 2013.


Romaine, James ed. The Art of Guy Chase. Baltimore, MD: Square Halo, 2011.

This handsome little book is filled with color images of Guy Chase’s paintings, drawings, and collages and includes essays by CIVA members Albert Pedulla, Theodore Prescott, Joel Sheesley, and Wayne Roosa.

_____________. Objects of Grace: Conversations on Creativity and Faith. Baltimore, MD: Square Halo Books, 2002.

Rookmaaker, H. R. Modern Art and the Death of a Culture. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1970.


Sanderson, Krystyna. Light at Ground Zero: St. Paul’s Chapel After 9/11. Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2004.

Sayers, Dorothy L. The Mind of the Maker. New York, NY: Continuum International Publishing, 2005.

Scarry, Elaine. On Beauty and Being Just. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001.

Schaeffer, Francis A. Art and the Bible. 1973, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006.

Schmemann, Alexander. For the Life of the World. 1965; Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2000.

Written by a Russian Orthodox liturgical theologian, this book sketches the contours of a sacramental and liturgical worldview that affirms the importance of aesthetic experience. —Daniel Siedell.

Sennett, Richard. The Craftsman. New Haven: Yale, 2008.

A engaging history of the craftsman, craft, and craftsmanship—the three major headings under which Sennett organizes this book. For those wondering about the place of things made by hand in a age that is so marked by mechanical and digital technologies, Sennett recounts the history of manual and tactile making and creating (by hand) including both the relationship between apprentices and their mentors and the place and importance of guilds in social and economic life. And interesting and pleasurable read. —Cameron J. Anderson

Shantz, Bob and Sarah Hall. Windows On Our Souls: A Spiritual Excavation. Toronto, Canada: Novalis, 2007.

This inspiring and beautiful book for prayer and meditation presents in contemporary words and images an interpretation of some of the earliest examples of Christian expression. Using stained glass, award-winning artist Sarah Hall explores the religious imagery found in the catacombs of Rome. Here, early Christians used simple illustrations to depict their faith living “in glad confidence in the love of God.” Using prayerful, meditative words, Bob Schantz further interprets Hall’s art as well as the original story it is based on. The result of this collaboration is a work of wonder and silent reflection.

Sheesley, Joel. Lincoln Marsh Journal: Landscape the Knowable Mystery. Wheaton, IL: Wheaton Park District, 2015.

Siedell, Daniel A. God in the Gallery: A Christian Embrace of Modern Art. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008.

_______________. Who’s Afraid of Modern Art?: Essays on Modern Art and Theology in Conversation. Eugene, Oregon: Cascade, 2015.

Smith, James K. Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Kingdom Formation. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009.

I think about Smith’s book all the time these days. Where so many critiques of modernity fail to deliver an alternative, and where the dominant critical lenses of contemporary art focus on the head over the heart, Smith provides an accessible and empowering analysis that leads to praise and worship. He invites us to look closely at our home institutions—school, church, gallery—and understand how the habits of the heart and body shape us into societies, for better and for worse. —Kevin Hamilton

Spackman, Betty. A Profound Weakness: Christians & Kitsch. Carlisle, UK: Piquant Editions, 2005.

This volume, by CIVA member Betty Spackman, is presented as an “image journal” and textbook concerning the modern and postmodern phenomenon of kitsch and Christianity. This is not a quick and easy denouncement from one of the art elite, nor a full embrace of everything sentimental. This stunningly designed book explores the gamut of kitsch and faith as it strives to call into question our entrenched views on the subject.

Steffler, Alva William. Symbols of the Christian Faith. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 2002.

Steinbeck, John. East of Eden. New York: Viking Press, 1952.

Loosely based on the biblical account of Cain and Abel, John Steinbeck’s timeless masterpiece tells the story of how one family over three generations grapples with issues surrounding good and evil. Steinbeck presents rich metaphors, which speak to the heart of our humanity and struggle to overcome the effects of original sin. —Joe Cory

Steiner, George. Real Presences. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press,1989.

Written by polymath and ubiquitous author and critic, George Steiner; a challenging book that questions whether or not human culture can continue to exist without the “real presence” of God – at least in the form of a “gamble on transcendence.” A broad and sweeping look at the very basis of our artistic and literary traditions and their rootedness in courtesia – intellectual hospitality, meaning the entertaining of strangers that has sometimes opened us to the supernatural Other. –Bruce Herman

Stilgoe, John. Outside Lies Magic: Regaining History and Awareness in Everyday Places. New York: Walker & Company, 1999.

I would put this overlooked book right up there with the art-school mainstays of Albers, Shahn, and Klee. Stilgoe’s short book is an exhortation to really seeing the world around you: the landscapes we live in, where the natural and the artificial are indistinguishable. How did we get the world we see today? Stilgoe points to a life of discovering the answer to this question, by simply walking, seeing, noticing. –Kevin Hamilton.

Stoffel Overvoorde, Chris. Passing the Colors: Engaging Visual Culture in the Twenty-First Century. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002.

Passing the Colors explores the themes of understanding art theologically and philosophically through a particular artist’s unique perspective. This volume describes the artistic journey of the artist/author from his early days as a metal worker in the shipyards of Rotterdam to the years he spent passing on his artistic vision as a college professor. Passing the Colors provides an intimate look at the formative role of art in a person’s life and challenges Christians to view the arts in new ways. Featuring original artwork in full color, this book will interest church leaders and general readers considering the place of art in Christian worship.


Tarkovsky, Andrei. Sculpting in Time : Reflections on the Cinema, trans. Kitty Hunter-Blair. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1989.

Thiessen, Gesa Elsbeth ed. Theological Aesthetics: A Reader. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 2005.

The readings in this book range broadly over themes at the intersection of religion and the arts, including beauty and revelation, the vision of God, artistic and divine creation, meanings of signs and symbols, worship, liturgy, the relationship of word and images, and icons and iconoclasm. The text is composed of over 125 primary sources including the writings of Augustine, Meister Eckhart, Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Kant, Kierkegaard, Tillich, Barth, von Balthasar, and Begbie.

Taylor, W. David O. For the Beauty of the Church: Casting a Vision for the Arts. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2010.

This collection of essays includes contributions from some of today’s finest writers and thinkers about the place of art in the church. In addition to Taylor an his essay, “Looking to the Future: A Hopeful Subversion,” contributors to this volume include Andy Crouch, Lauren F. Winner, Eugene Peterson, Barbara Nicolosi, and Joshua Banner.

Torgerson, Mark A. An Architecture of Immanence: Architecture for Worship and Ministry Today. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 2007.

Torgerson explains how modern architecture has heavily influenced the construction of new sacred spaces. The discussion covers how God’s transcendence and immanence have been traditionally interpreted in church architecture and then traces the changes that 20th century theology brought to architecture in recent decades. This book is a must for contemporary architects working in liturgical spaces and for congregations seeking to renovate or build.

Trier, Daniel J., Mark Husbands, and Roger Lundin. The Beauty of God: Theology and the Arts. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2007.

The book is a compendium of lectures that were delivered at the 2006 Wheaton Theology Conference. Arranged under three headings, the second group of lectures, “Visual Arts: Recognizing True Beauty After the Fall,” will be of most interest to the CIVA community and these include papers by E. John Walford, Bruce Herman, and Roy Anker.

Tufte, Edward R. Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative. Cheshire, CT: Graphics Press, 1997.

An insightful look at how information is displayed, organized, and understood. The book also deals with how bad planning and design can be fatal (as in the space shuttle Challenger explosion). Any designer would benefit from reading this book.

Turner, Steve. Imagine: A Vision for Christians in the Arts. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001.



Diepeveen, Leonard and Timothy Van Laar. Active Sights: Art As Social Interaction. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages, 1997.

Viola, Bill and Robert Violette, eds. Reasons for Knocking at an Empty House. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1995.

“The larger struggle we are witnessing today … [is] an ecological drama where the outcome rests not only on our realization that the natural physical environment is one and the same as our bodies, but that nature itself is a form of Mind.” – Bill Viola


Walford, E. John. Great Themes in Art. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2001.

Weil, Simone. “Reflections of the Right Use of School Studies with a View to the Love of God,” in Waiting on God. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1951.

Written in 1942 in a letter to her friend Father Perrin, Weil eloquently writes of the connection between prayer and attentiveness. Cultivating, honing and purifying ones capacity for attentiveness is for Weil the real reason for studying anything and is the very substance of prayer. An apologetic of attentiveness as the basis for self-emptying and sacramental awareness. –Erica Grimm

Wolfe, Gregory. Sacred Passion: The Art of William Schickel. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1998.

Wolterstorff, Nicholas. Art in Action: Toward a Christian Aesthetic. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 1980).