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Imagine: A Vision for Christians in the Arts Paperback – May 18, 2001

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Editorial Reviews


"I have long been a fan of Steve Turner's poetry and journalism--he has a way of illuminating the intersection of the sacred and the secular in our lives. Now, in Imagine, he lets us glimpse behind the curtain and see the philosophy that undergirds his work. Highly readable, insightful and provocative, Imagine draws on historical and contemporary examples and biblical insights to offer a refreshing and balanced perspective on how faith can inform our creativity. Turner challenges us to move beyond our ghetto mentality and engage our culture with art that is creative, authentic and relevant. His book should be required reading for every Christian interested in the arts." (Terry Glaspey, author of Booklover's Guide to Great Reading and Not a Tame Lion: The Spiritual Legacy of C. S. Lewis)

"Turner, in this well-rounded and thoroughly biblical book, issues a compelling invitation to everyone in the creative community to move redemptively as salt and light into the world of the arts precisely for Christ's sake." (Michael Card, recording artist and author of A Violent Grace)

"This affirming book says all the things I'd like my friends to understand about me as an artist. At the same time it challenged me to be more actively engaged with our culture through artmaking infused with the gospel." (Timothy R. Botts)

"Drawing on years of experience, a first-rate poet sketches a Christian vision for the arts and artists in our time. With disarming directness he calls Christians out of their ecclesiastical ghettos to live that vision out. Readable, entertaining and bold." (Dr. Jeremy Begbie, Ridley Hall, Cambridge and University of St. Andrews)

"There are those who would ask, 'What has New York to do with Jerusalem? or the arts with religion?' Steve Turner answers that question as he calls the believing aesthete and the Christian church to come to the table, sit down and talk. In this informed and rare treatment, Turner challenges the Christian community to encourage the artist's voice to be heard and then challenges believing artists to allow their art to be influenced and enhanced by sound theology." (Jim Thomas, musician and author)

"Imagine: A Vision For Christianity & the Arts is a wake-up call to the Christian community to fulfill the cultural mandate and to develop a theology of creativity that both embraces our humanness and engages the world with 'muscular' Christianity. Author Steve Turner addresses the church and its involvement in the arts with a prophetic challenge--an appeal to be salt and light in our world instead of withdrawing into mere Christian subculture or pietistic retreat. But he is eminently balanced in his challenge to those of us who have accepted a call to be 'in the world' of arts/entertainment but not of it. He helps us break out of the compartmentalization and secular-sacred dichotomy that so often paralyzes the Christian artist and community from real impact on our world. As a screenwriter in Hollywood, my heart was exhorted with his warning of those who have gradually shipwrecked their faith through incremental assimilation of the very world they are trying to reach. With a strong and decisive commitment to Christ, Scripture and truth, he helps draw guidelines for avoiding the ignorance of all extremes when approaching the arts. If you are a Christian who consumes culture without discrimination, then you need to read this book. If you are a Christian who considers arts and entertainment to be worldly or a waste of time, then you need to read this book. And even if you are a Christian who thinks you want to serve the Lord by being a light in the darkness of any creative industry today, you need to read this book." (Brian Godawa, screenwriter, To End All Wars)

About the Author

Turner is a writer and poet living in London, England, where he regularly contributes to newspapers such as The Mail on Sunday and The Times. His many books include Conversations with Eric Clapton, U2: Rattle and Hum, Van Morrison: Too Late to Stop Now and A Hard Day's Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatles Song.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 131 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Books (May 18, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830822917
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830822911
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,906 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Steve Turner is the author of Trouble Man: The Life and Death of Marvin Gaye, A Hard Day's, Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatles Song, Hungry for Heaven: Rock and Roll and the Search for Redemption, Jack Kerouac. Angelbeaded Hipster, and Van Morrison: Too Late to Stop Now. His articles have appeared in Rolling Stone, Mojo, Q, and the London Times. He lives in London with his wife and two children.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

105 of 108 people found the following review helpful By johnw on June 12, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is, quite simply, the best book on the issues surrounding the life of a modern day Christian artist that I have ever read--period. I say this for several reasons:
1. It is uncompromising, both in its descriptions of the artist's mind, dreams, and motivations, and also in its exacting analysis of what it means to be a Christian. Turner pulls no punches in describing the incredible dichotomy between the gift of new life we have been given as a result of faith in the death and resurrrection of Christ as atonement for our sins, and the very emotions, dreams, insecurities, and passions that drive the artist in his or her creative endeavors. It is true, at least in my experience (and as Rory Noland has written in his very good book, "The Heart of the Artist"), that Christians in the arts are often more prone to temptation since they allow their feelings and passions to not only enter in to their work, but to drive it.
2. It puts out a call for artists to not only do art in the church to glorify God, but especially to do art OUT in the world to carry His message of salvation to those who do not yet know Him. How often do we hear the statement that the "real" work of the Christian is religious in nature, or takes place in and around the church? But, as Turner writes, "Jesus is Lord" over the WHOLE of our lives, even and especially those parts that are very 'unreligious' in nature. We are called to live for Christ minute by minute.
3. It is also honest in its assessment that the church often does not know what to do with the artists in our midst, let alone present an atmosphere in which they can flourish in their gifts and talents.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
Steve Turner has shed some refreshing light on an age-old controversial subject. Should a Christian's art be obviously Christian or is there room to fudge a bit? These and many other types of questions are answered by Turner. Perhaps the greatest insight he shares in the book is that a Christian artist is also a human being. The art created by this person is affected by all things in their environment. To create only art that reflects an inflexible spiritual message is ludicrous. If the artist is touched by the power of God, the artist paints it. If the artist is hurt by a lover's rejection, the artist writes a song about it. If the artist likes french toast, the artist writes a short story about it. Christian themed or not, it's art and it's justified. Let the fundamental, backward thinking, Super Christians beware. Steve Turner is a champion for the cause of Christians in the arts.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Andrew on September 7, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the book for you if you feel called into the arts, work in the arts, and: (1) want some biblical and historical perspective, (2) want to impact secular culture, (3) wonder why there aren't more Christians impacting popular culture, and (4) struggle with how far to go with the gospel in secular arts. It takes no specific position on how agressive or overt to be in presenting the gospel. Rather, it gives you the wisdom to help determine where God wants you. But, it will inspire you. Absolutely incredible!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By J. Russell on November 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
I work with performing artists in the area of healthcare ministry, but I am not an artist myself. Thus, this book has really helped me get out of my self-inflicted box of what I thought "Christian art" and "art by Christians" should look like. The book was recommended to me by the president of the arts ministry agency I serve with, and I would be neglectful if I did not pass the recommendation along. You will not find another book that that is so helpful as you wrestle with where the arts fits with Christianity. What a refreshment Steve Turner has provided. Now, BUY THE BOOK!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Rondall Reynoso on May 13, 2006
Format: Paperback
Steve Turner did an excellent job with this book. It is a very easy read but is well thought out and insightful. He does a good job of outlining the historical reasoning for the sad state of "christian art" today. But, he also does what other authors pretend to do but never actually accomplish. He provides a solid theory from which Christian artists can work. After explaining the historic reasons for our situation he then discusses the issue from a solidly biblical perspective doing a good job of puting the scripture in context for this discussion. He rightly argues that art produced by Christian Artists needs not be overtly religious. God is the God of the "secular" and the "religious".

Especially helpful is Turner's theory of five concentric circles. The cicles represent diferent levels of direct religiosity in the work with the outer showing no specific workview and the inner being focused on the cross. But, Turner goes further and asks if it is actually possible to produce the type of powerful art he is advocating and then he backs up his arguement with examples.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Florentius VINE VOICE on June 29, 2010
Format: Paperback
Steve Turner chose the name "Imagine" for this book. That should have been a tip-off. I suspect his intention was to be ironic--to use the name of John Lennon's anthem of socialist secularism to present his thesis for the exact opposite: a vision of Christianity influencing the arts. But Imagine is a maudlin, syrupy song and Turner's book, while presenting many intriguing ideas, is incomplete and actually gets the question backwards. Instead of asking "Why are many Christians hostile to the arts?" Turner should have asked, "Why are the arts so often hostile to Christians?"

Before I tear into this book, I should say that Turner does get a lot of things right. For example, he gives the Catholic Church the proper credit for having always viewed art as a way of approaching the sacred, while Protestantism--particularly the evangelical brand of modern times--often views art as fundamentally worldly and approaching idolatry.

He also correctly identifies the importance of art in all its forms as a means of communicating ideas to large groups of people. And, he recognizes how vital it is for Christians to engage in the arts in order to influence society. I almost said "evangelize" there, but in truth, that's where Turner's argument begins to fall flat. He seems to understand that Christian moral influence on society is a good thing, but worries that actual evangelization via the arts should only be done sotto voce--if at all.

Turner dismisses contemporary Christian rock and instead holds up the band U2 as an exemplar of how Christians should influence the arts. While it is undeniable that U2 has had a major impact on the music scene over the years, they seem to do the opposite of what Turner calls for in this book.
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