Wondermentality Summer Study: faith, art & poetry

wondermentality flower
wondermentality flower


WONDERMENTALITY SUMMER STUDY: reflections on faith art and poetry

Explore the beauty of God this summer! We will reflect upon the subtle yet surprising ways God teaches us to see anew through the arts.

With readings from Mark Jarman, Dana Gioia, Li-Young Lee, Denise Levertov, David Kirby, Emily Dickinson, Flannery O'Connor, Edna St. Vincent Millay, John Donne, Richard Wilbur, Gerard Manley Hopkins and Emily Brunner.

Led by William Boyce, doctoral student in religious studies at UVa.  Hosted by Westminster Presbyterian Church.

Sunday evenings from 8-9 pm at Common Grounds (corner of Rugby Rd & Gordon Ave., one block from Beta Bridge).  ALL ARE WELCOME.  No advance preparation is necessary.

One more left! July 26

Would you like to receive the poems and readings?  Just email us and we'll send you pdfs of everything!  info@theologicalhorizons.org

Reflections on the Wondermentality Study by William Boyce:

“The quest of beauty reminds us of our final destiny, it sets us back on our path, [and] fills us with new hope.” (Pope Benedict XVI to a gathering of artists at the Sistine Chapel.) As Christians, we need more than rigorous teaching and sound philosophy--but our teaching and understanding must always be a witness to the beauty of God and His creation. The Good. The True. And the Beautiful. Together, these transcendentals help us to understand the scope of Christ’s cosmic declaration as “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (Jn 14:6). We should hardly be surprised to discover, then, an enduring admiration for authors like C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Flannery O’Connor, Marilynne Robinson, John Updike, and Fyodor Dostoevsky—to name a few—who blend these elements in powerful yet sublime ways.

This summer, Theological Horizons has welcomed students and members of the community to join our quest of beauty, or what we called, “Wondermentality.” By partnering with Westminster Presbyterian Church, we have been able to host intimate conversations in a “coffee-shop-esque” setting on matters of faith, art, and wonder.

As a six-week series, without any prerequisites or preparations required, we reflect each Sunday through artistic works on the “big” questions of doubt, desire, hope, discouragement, friendship, apathy, longing, joy, and purpose. We have discussed theologians (Emil Brunner, Martin Luther, Dietrich Bonhoeffer), novelists (Flannery O’Connor, Ernest Hemingway), poets (John Donne, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Emily Dickinson, Mark Jarman, Li-Young Lee, and Denise Levertov), and everything in between, from playwrights and painters to stained-glass artists and architects.

Good art leads us to ask important questions, and while it is by no means the preserve of Christianity, it is something Christianity cares about deeply. If Emil Brunner is right that “Art is always the child of the longing for something else,” then art is a kind of redemption that points to the ultimate redemption of God in Christ.

Although the summer is a challenging time for campus ministries, we have had tremendous enthusiasm for this series on the arts—with a few students attending who have no or loose religious affiliation. We have had UVA professors, local teachers, recent alumni, and whole families participate. Some conversations have lasted well past the end of our formal discussion and into the late evening.

In all, “Wondermentality” has been an exciting opportunity to consider what T.S. Eliot regarded as the “intersection of the timeless/With time.” Your faithfulness in prayer and your contributions of all kinds to Theological Horizons have made this summer a fruitful time of ministry. Without your continued support, we certainly would not have seen so many wonderful conversations started, connections made, big questions pondered, or wounds redressed. In the words of Paul, thank you for being “co-workers in God’s service” (1 Corin. 3:9).


William P. Boyce