cover image Grace and Necessity: Reflections on Art and Love

Grace and Necessity: Reflections on Art and Love

Rowan Williams, . . Morehouse, $19.95 (172pp) ISBN 978-0-8192-8118-0

In this insightful but sometimes hard-to-fathom work, the present archbishop of Canterbury explores a theme that he says has long intrigued him: the connection between the arts and Christian thought. The nature of art, the role of the artist and the being of God are some of the topics explored by Williams, formerly Lady Margaret professor of divinity at Oxford. He begins by assessing the aesthetic theory of the 20th-century Catholic theologian Jacques Maritain. Williams explores Maritain's influence on Catholic poet and painter David Jones and writer Flannery O'Connor, and examines the relationships between art and morality, artists and their work, and the ways in which art approaches the self-giving nature of God. Human creation that is more than practical, Williams argues, "gives us some clue as to what the theologian means by creation, the setting in being [of] something that is both an embodiment of what is thought or conceived and a radically independent reality with its own logic and integrity unfolding over time." Unabashedly erudite in tone, this book, originally given as the Clark Lectures at Trinity College, Cambridge, may appeal to scholars and readers interested in grappling with a debate that has probably been engaged as long as there have been artists and theologians. (Aug.)