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Book of the Week: Beauty Will Save the World


Title:
Beauty Will Save the World: Recovering the Human In An Ideological Age
Author: Gregory Wolfe
Published by: ISI Books


Summary:

We live in a politicized time. Culture wars and increasingly partisan conflicts have reduced public discourse to shouting matches between ideologues. But rather than merely bemoaning the vulgarity and sloganeering of this era, says acclaimed author and editor Gregory Wolfe, we should seek to enrich the language of civil discourse. And the best way to do that, Wolfe believes, is to draw nourishment from the deepest sources of culture: art and religious faith.

Wolfe has been called “one of the most incisive and persuasive voices of our generation,” and this penetrating and wide-ranging book makes a powerful case for the importance of beauty and imagination to cultural renewal. He begins by tracing his own journey from a young culture warrior bent on attacking the modern world to a career devoted to nurturing the creation of culture through contemporary literature and art that renew the Western tradition. Along the way, Wolfe finds in Renaissance Christian humanists like Erasmus and Thomas More—and their belief that imagination and the arts are needed to offset the danger of ideological abstractions— a “distant mirror” in which to see our own times.

Beauty Will Save the World offers a revealing introduction to the artists and thinkers who are the Christian humanists of the modern era, from well-known figures like Evelyn Waugh and Wendell Berry to lesser-known authors like Shusaku Endo, Andrew Lytle, and Geoffrey Hill. A section on visual artists Mary McCleary, Fred Folsom, and Makoto Fujimura (accompanied by reproductions of their works) demonstrates that there are artists who can reimagine the Western tradition in strikingly contemporary terms. Finally, Wolfe pays tribute to the conservative thinkers who served as his mentors: Russell Kirk, Gerhart Niemeyer, Marion Montgomery, and Malcolm Muggeridge— all of whom rejected rigid ideology and embraced culture and tradition.

At a time when our public discourse has come to be dominated by warring factions with little regard for truth, Wolfe’s affirmation of beauty as a redemptive force is both refreshing and encouraging. (courtesy ISI)

What’s Being Said:
“In an age that has facilely identified as secularized or post-Christian, Gregory Wolfe was among the first to perceive instead a renaissance of religious humanism in the arts: of writers and artists who did not abandon their faith in Myster but drew courage, guidance, and inspiration from it. He is one of the most incisive and persuasive voices of our generation.”
Ron Hansen, author of Atticus and Mariette in Ecstasy

“Gregory Wolfe’s reflections from his editor’s chair are much more: they are spiritual essays. For, with a prose as fine and sharp as a surgeon’s knife, Wolfe manages, over and over, to cut very close to the soul.”
Richard Rodriguez, author of Hunger of Memory


About the Author:

Gregory Wolfe is the founder and editor of Image, one of America’s leading journals of literature and the arts. His books include Intruding Upon the Timeless, Malcolm Muggeridge, and Sacred Passion. In 2005 he served as a judge in nonfiction for the National Book Awards. Wolfe is a writer in residence at Seattle Pacific University, where he directs the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program. He and his family live in Seattle.

Get a copy here.

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