Bridge to Wonder: Art as a Gospel of Beauty
Baylor University Press | 2012
In this FSA Inspiration, we highlight the scholarship of FSA Visionary and theologian Cecilia González-Andrieu, specifically her important volume Bridge to Wonder: Art as a Gospel of Beauty (2012). In this text, González-Andrieu employs the lens of beauty to consider intersections between theology and art, specifically situated within the academic field of theological aesthetics. Taxonomically distinctive from Apollonian idealism, “beauty,” she argues (along with Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar) is an essential aspect of theological truth. Thus, as part of its intrinsic participation in the economy of truth, beauty, and goodness, art’s responsibility to service truth for González-Andrieu has the power to evoke wonder.
Parallel to the heart of one’s spiritual experience, she notes, art and beauty mutually share the possibility of one’s encounter with the sacred – “and sometimes indeed beautifully find the shimmering glow of the presence of God”(6). This is of particular importance, notes González-Andrieu, for marginalized communities that might not have access to forms of beauty that privileged others might. From this perspective, art has the possibility to be salvific, acting as a gospel of beauty. She writes, “Beauty, then, in its accessible inaccessibility through a work of art, can make us aware of this profound complexity [of the mystery of God]—not only by the symbolic representation of the beautiful, but by prompting the movement of our heart in the quest of unattainable Beauty” (58).