Religion and spirituality are not only matters of the soul, mind, or heart. They are expressed in artworks, photography, and music as well. Among the titles coming in 2021 are books that celebrate these expressions. In this troubled winter, they promise inspiration, consolation, and connection, from the earth to the heavens. A sampling includes:
Art and Faith: A Theology of Making (Yale, Jan. 5) by painter Makoto Fujimura, with a foreword by biblical scholar N. T. Wright, is drawn from 30 years of making art. According to Yale acquiring editor Jennifer Banks, Fujimura knew from childhood that whenever he painted, “I felt as if an electrical charge were going through me. Every time I created and felt that charge, I was experiencing the Holy Spirit. I now consider what I do in the studio to be theological work as much as aesthetic work. I experience God, my Maker, in the studio.”
Banks tells PW, this is a “poignant and beautiful book” that shows, “unless we are making something, we cannot know the depth of God’s being and God’s grace permeating our lives.” She expects it to be “far and away our top title in religion and spirituality as we enter 2021.”
Sensing God: Experiencing the Divine in Nature, Food, Music, and Beauty (NavPress, Jan. 12) is by Joel Clarkson, who has composed music for film and television, concert halls, and churches, and is currently pursuing a doctorate in theology. He finds a connection to Christ in every encounter with God’s creation, from digging in his garden to listening to jazz, to dinner with his family. His book is an invitation to proclaim God’s “visible, tangible, and touchable gospel,” according to the publisher.
NavPress editor David Zimmerman says Clarkson’s book, arriving during the Covid-19 pandemic, reminds readers: “When we’re isolated from one another, we’re not abandoned by God. Our senses can keep us attuned to what’s happening in our spirits, and open to what God has to say to us, to do in us, moment by moment.” Highlighting Clarkson's riffs on jazz, Zimmerman adds: ”When we attend to music that was crafted lovingly, carefully, thoughtfully, we are practicing a kind of soul care.”
Radiant Human: Discover the Connection Between Color, Identity, and Energy, by Christina Lonsdale (Harper Design, April 20), is a collection of 200 color photos revealing her subjects’ human energy through the auras that emanate from them, making their mental, spiritual, and emotional levels vividly visible, the publisher says. In the book, the author—daughter of a painter and who was reared on a commune—discusses how these images, selected from 45,000 Polaroids she has taken, can illuminate a person’s life story by capturing their essential characteristics.
The New York Times once called Lonsdale “the Annie Leibovitz of aura photography.” Her publisher calls Radiant Human, “a study of humanity, and the energy we radiate and receive—the good, the bad, and the weird vibes—helping us understand better who we are.”