7 Hours of Interviews on Religion and the Arts

Created, written, and hosted by Robert Lawrence Kuhn, Closer To Truth is a public television series that explores fundamental questions relating to the cosmos, consciousness, religion, and the search for ultimate reality and purpose. The program boasts a robust website featuring over four thousand video interviews with scientists, philosophers, theologians, artists, and other scholars and practitioners.

I am particularly interested in the seven hours’ worth of interviews on art and religion/God that fall under the “Art Seeking Understanding” rubric. They are separated into three- to twelve-minute segments spread across these eight topical series:

  • Art and the Philosophy of Religion: “Can art inform topics in philosophy of religion? Can the existence and varieties of art address or affect theological questions about God, faith, belief, worship?”
  • Arguing God from the Arts?: “Is it possible to infer something of the nonphysical, divine existence of God from the physical, human existence of art? Can one argue for God from art?”
  • Can the Arts Reveal God’s Traits?: “If God is the Creator of human beings and art is a feature of human sentience, then can examining the arts help discern characteristics of God? Can one infer from various aspects of art various traits of God?”
  • Arts and Religious Experience: “What is the relationship between experiencing art and experiencing God? Can the arts generate or trigger religious experience? If so, can it be validated?”
  • Arts and Religious Belief: “Is there a relationship between diverse arts and belief in God? Can the arts express or encourage religious belief? If so, can it be validated?” (*This is my favorite.)
  • Arts and Religious Practice (Liturgy): “Why are the arts so deeply embedded in religious settings and services? How do the arts work in religious spaces and activities? What are differences among the arts, say music and painting, in the liturgy?” (*This is my second favorite!)
  • Arts and Religious Reality: “Art is deeply involved in the practice of religion, embedded in the rituals and liturgy of almost every religion. But how could the ubiquity of the arts in religion affect whether or not religion is real?”
  • Co-Evolution of Art and Religion: “Did art and religion co-evolve in parallel as archeology and anthropology suggest, and if so, what would be the significance? What do art and religion have in common that could enable their common, co-temporal development?”
Closer to Truth screen cap

Interviewees include Nicholas Wolterstorff, Matthew Milliner, Jonathan A. Anderson, Judith Wolfe, Aaron Rosen, Alfonse Borysewicz, John Witvliet, and others. I’m disappointed by the lack of diversity among interviewees—the program is very heavy on white male Christians—but I am nevertheless grateful for the wisdom these individuals share, and for the efforts of the Closer To Truth team to coax it out, capture it onscreen, and present it freely to the public.

Here are a few interviews I’ll call your attention to:

These videos and many more can also be found on Closer To Truth’s YouTube channel.

One thought on “7 Hours of Interviews on Religion and the Arts

  1. I’m sure these are very interesting lectures but they are overwhelmingly male and overwhelmingly white male. Not really acceptable these days!

    Like

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