- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: IVP Books (September 12, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0830837094
- ISBN-13: 978-0830837090
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #514,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Word Pictures: Knowing God Through Story & Imagination
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"At first blush, Word Pictures sounds like just another postmodern effort to destroy our confidence in propositional truth. It isn't. Instead of pitting orthodoxy and orthopraxy against one another, Godawa talks about the relationship of reason and imagination. We have overemphasized reason, he argues, when imagination is also a biblical means of communicating truth. The book brings balance to a difficult conversation." (Leadership Journal, (www.leadershipjournal.net), Spring 2010)
"Godawa shows how the Bible uses both propositions and rich imagery, metaphor, narrative, and poetry--in other words, the language of the imagination--to convey truth." (Susan Olasky, WORLD Magazine, November 7, 2009)
"Godawa is one of the best thinkers on Christianity, art and culture writing today. His latest work, Word Pictures, encourages a much more holistic viewing of movies and TV, which in turn leads to a more complete understanding of the Word of God. His work will make you want to first reach for your Bible and then view (or, even better, make) art that engages the culture and advances the kingdom of God. He has also convinced me that I am a 'literarialist.' Read this book and you'll probably become one too." (Dean Batali, TV writer, That '70s Show and Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
"Brian Godawa is that rare combination of industry professional and serious intellectual who is respected by the academic community and the media industry as well. When Brian speaks, I make notes, because what he thinks matters. Word Pictures is exactly what the culture needs to hear right now. We've moved from a text-based culture to a visually based culture, and Brian's book is the key to making that transition. It's changed my thinking about understanding the Bible in a postmodern era." (Phil Cooke, president and creative director, Cooke Pictures, Santa Monica, California)
"Brian Godawa's incisive delineation of word pictures in the aftermath of a collapsed modernity heralds a new, thoughtful, biblically postmodern perspective of movies and the arts. This is a biblically holistic perspective. As a Hollywood insider, Godawa is uniquely situated to assess both the assets and liabilities of today's major movie industry and to offer valuable suggestions to Christians for how they should interact with it. We all would do well to listen carefully to Godawa's well-honed argument and heed his advice." (P. Andrew Sandlin, president, Center for Cultural Leadership)
"Accessible and engaging, Word Pictures introduces readers to the popular discourse among religious conservatives about visual culture in a mass-mediated society. The strength of Word Pictures lies in the author's fresh explication of biblical passages, 'literarily' situating them in both generic and cultural contexts and then drawing interesting parallels for thinking about contemporary popular art." (William Romanowski, professor of communication arts and sciences, Calvin College, and author of Eyes Wide Open: Looking for God in Popular Culture)
"Brian Godawa's book is an exploration of the literary nature of the Bible. It is a spirited and balanced defense of the imagination as a potential conveyer of truth. There is a lot of good literary theory in the book, as well as an autobiographical story line. Pervading all this wealth is a sense of the author's energetic mind. The thoroughness of research makes the book a triumph of scholarship as well." (Leland Ryken, Clyde S. Kilby Professor of English, Wheaton College, and editor of The Christian Imagination: The Practice of Faith in Literature and Writing)
"A timely corrective to those of us who would reduce faith to words and arguments, given by an author who uses words and arguments so well. In Word Pictures Brian Godawa manages to be contemporary without being trendy, faithful to tradition without being hidebound. It should be read by anyone concerned for the well-being of biblical truth in twenty-first-century popular culture." (Steve Turner, author of Imagine: A Vision for Christians in the Arts)
"This book deserves, and will delight, a wide readership. Part autobiography, part biblical studies, part apologetics, part aesthetics, part historical theology, only a 'Renaissance man' like artist-intellectual-communicator Brian Godawa could have brought together 'word' and 'image' with such serene, soaring mastery. I'll be requiring it in my preaching courses." (Leonard Sweet, author of Out of the Question . . . Into the Mystery)
"This is must reading for anyone interested in the huge question of the use of words and the legitimacy of images for theological and apologetic discourse. Brian Godawa has left no stone unturned. Moving insightfully through the Bible, Luther, Calvin, Tolkien, Lewis and, of course, films, Godawa lays to rest the many fears about images and imagination. More than that, he encourages Christians to get involved in the media, with a view to transforming them rather than hiding behind the safe wall of 'Christian art.'" (William Edgar, professor of apologetics, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia)
"At a contentious intersection of faith and contemporary culture, Brian Godawa offers what many of us have been calling for: balance. In a world (and often a church) torn by imbalanced devotion to either word or image, Godawa joins the two with a needed 'and.' He shows a well-developed literacy for both forms of communication, shows how the Bible incorporates both and challenges us to engage our culture creatively and redemptively on both fronts." (Brian McLaren, author of A New Kind of Christian and A Generous Orthodoxy)
"Brian Godawa is that rare breed--a philosopher-artist--who opens our eyes to the aesthetic dimension of spirituality. Cogently argued and fun to read, this book analyzes the rich variety of literary genres found in Scripture itself. Godawa shows convincingly that God interacts with us as whole persons, not only through didactic teaching but also through metaphor, symbol and sacrament." (Nancy R. Pearcey, Francis A. Schaeffer Scholar, World Journalism Institute, and author of Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity)
"At a contentious intersection of faith and contemporary culture, Brian Godawa offers what many of us have been calling for: balance. In a world (and often a church) torn by imbalanced devotion to either word or image, Godawa joins the two with a needed 'and.' He shows a well-developed literacy for both forms of communication, shows how the Bible incorporates both and challenges us to engage our culture creatively and redemptively on both fronts."
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Top Customer Reviews
Word Pictures opened my eyes to how Western Christianity has over emphasized reason and logic at the expense of life. We are to worship God in Spirit and in Truth. Brian challenges us to shed our skepticism of the subjective and embrace life in its fullness.
What we live and experience often influences us more than logical argument. Brian doesn't dismiss the importance of truth; rather he shows that truth is often communicated more impactfully through the medium of art than it is by mere statement.
It is time for Christians to embrace the arts for our own good, and to engage the culture around us. If you have ever felt like something was missing from your Christianity, this book will inspire you to see the multiple mediums that God uses to communicate His truth to people. No more cookie cutter Christianity!!! God's drama in the 21sta century will use the arts: movies, stories, pictures, symbols, sculpture, paintings, drama, videos, YouTube, blogs, facebook, and more. Are you ready for a challenge? Read this book!
Also, his discussions of redemption through subversion, imagery in the Bible and Christian history, and Christian art in general, are must reads. The subversion part - from Paul's method of reaching out to nonbelievers in Greece, to reclaiming truths everywhere - is an important discussion for all. So while I would argue reason and intellect need reclaimed in the Christian world (Love Your God with All Your Mind), Godawa makes a strong case for us to remember the importance of biblical imagery/literary constructs and its proper context and its place in the world (and maybe people will learn to stop abusing the Bible, i.e. all the Revelation "experts." See End Times Fiction,The Apocalypse Code). See also The Christian Imagination: The Practice of Faith in Literature and Writing for more on literary/art subjects Godawa touches on.
Acting more as a selection of related but independent essays, apologist and screenwriter Brian Godawa takes the reader on a journey through various topics of interest. Rather than spend time writing chapters like "How do we approach art/books/movies/etc.," Godawa tackles the larger themes at stake that influence how we approach all of the creative arts. From a master apologist, it is an apologetic for the use of image and story in the Christian life. This is no small feat for someone in a tradition that has largely been iconoclastic since its inception (from the non-Lutheran aspects of the Reformation to the current day) and which has taken an almost exclusively literal and propositional approach to the entire text of the scriptures for well over a century in overcompensating reaction to liberal textural criticism.
Godawa steps into the battle zone and in the pages gives an appeal to the scriptures for the use of story and images, citing direct references in the pages. He also importantly addresses issues of literal readings versus the broad range of literary genres and forms in the scriptures, pointing to how hyperbole, satire, poetry, and such enrich the scripture experience by stirring the human imagination. The role of the Christian in the artistic fields is also discussed, as is the long battle for and against iconoclasm in the church. Most highly important is the resounding theme echoed throughout of battling a Christianity of "dehumanized abstraction and an intellectual faith that lack[s] imagination."
There are selective moments where I have disagreements with Godawa, but his work overall stands as an important benchmark in the promotion of the imagination and the creative arts from an Evangelical Protestant perspective and as a primer for a Christian approach to various fields associated with it. Even on my sparse disagreements, I believe Godawa has struck up a conversation worth having and raises important thoughts and questions beneficial to each reader. Therefore, I wholeheartedly recommend the book and, further, I intend to use this book as an instruction tool in future arts-related ministry endeavors.