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Tending the Fire That Burns at the Center of the World

Beauty and the Art of Christian Formation

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Tending the Fire at the Center of the World engages the central question of Christian formation: what kind of knowing is most likely to awaken and sustain Christian faith?

This book seeks to reclaim aesthetics—beauty and creativity—as the church’s most native theological way of knowing and being, which participates with God’s own glory and creativity.

This book traces the prominence of aesthetics up until the dawn of the Enlightenment, including recent theologians who reclaim aesthetics for theology and formation. The book elaborates the aims and techniques of aesthetic approaches to teaching and learning in the church.

Finally, this book cautions against overly determined rationalisms and moralisms that do not retain a sense of wonder, delight, and openness in the church’s teaching, liturgy, and proclamation. In this view, the church does not simply regurgitate familiar texts, political tropes, or flattened doctrines but breaks into the world as Christ’s body: a parable, a song, a flash mob, interrupting business as usual, giving new expression to acts of care, repentance, forgiveness, joy, and communion, awake to the beauty of God’s gifts and inviting our worship.

If you're open to an utterly unique meditation on the power of beauty in the life of faith, request Tending the Fire at the Center of the World today.

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Praise for Tending the Fire That Burns at the Center of the World

“David White is both a scholar and an artist. As a senior scholar in the field, he compellingly argues that theological aesthetics should be at the heart of Christian formation. As an artist, he helps us feel why and see how. If creativity participates with the God that is eternally at play crafting the universe into a work of art, Dr. White is cocreating with the divine. He makes Christian formation beautiful.”
Frank Rogers Jr., Claremont School of Theology

“Behold! David White taps a deep, if seldom-mined, vein of the theological tradition to gently awaken readers to a world that ‘glistens and crepitates’ with the transformative power of beauty. Refusing the flat functionalism of contemporary knowledge, White lures us toward a beautiful existence where there is always more than ‘just the facts’ on offer. In White’s imagination, beauty ultimately becomes iconic, thereby inviting our awakening to and participation in the beautiful mystery of divine love. Behold!”
Fred P. Edie, Duke Divinity School

About the Author

David F. White is the C. Ellis and Nancy Gribble Nelson Professor of Christian Education at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. David’s most recent writing includes Joy: A Guide for Youth Ministry with Sarah F. Farmer and Miroslav Volf (2020), Dreamcare: A Theology of Youth, Spirit, and Vocation (Cascade, 2013), Awakening Youth Discipleship: Christian Resistance in a Consumer Culture with Brian J. Mahan and Michael Warren (Cascade, 2007), and Practicing Discernment with Youth (2005).

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