Saturday, February 7, 2009

Theology and the Arts Programs

A few weeks back I posted links in the sidebar to several prominent Theology and the Arts academic programs including GTU, Andover Newton, Fuller, Duke, ITIA, Yale, Regent, and United Seminary. Over the past 10 years I have considered applying to each of the programs for a variety of reasons. Each program has its strengths and weaknesses.

One thing that I find curious is that most programs are academically focussed and only nominally arts focussed. Regent offers an occasional course in icon writing or painting. United, the most proximal for me, does have some studio space as well. One school not mentioned is Azusa Pacific's MFA program. I think they are the only evangelical Christian college that offers an MFA. From some conversations I have had with them they try hard to integrate theology into conversation with the process of art making. Additionally it seems to be a low-res. type of program (for better or worse).

My seminary experience in Sioux Falls comes from a line of thought that blends academics with practical experience of ministry. This sort of formation helps direct and remind academically minded folks that their work always exists for the church. I have pondered over the past few years, could there be a like-minded program that balances academic theology with practical artistic output? Rather than courses in preaching, pastoral care, and supervised ministry, artists could take courses in painting or printmaking or whatever their chosen medium along side traditional seminary courses of church history and theology, as well as, specific integration sorts of courses? Not only would this offer great resources for artists, but could help future pastors learn how to integrate the arts more effectively into the life of the ecclesia. This would not and could not replace a MFA from a university, but it could be an opportunity to give young artists a solid theological grounding from which to work.