Dr. Clyde Kilby was known to many as an early, long and effective champion of C. S. Lewis, and the founder of the Marion E. Wade Center at Wheaton College, IL, for the study of the works of Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and other members of the Inklings. Less known is that Dr. Kilby was also an apologist in his time for arts, aesthetics and beauty, particularly among Evangelicals.
This collection offers a sampler of the work of Dr. Clyde Kilby on these themes. He writes reflections under four headings: "Christianity, Art, and Aesthetics"; "The Vocation of the Artist"; "Faith and the Role of the Imagination"; and "Poetry, Literature and the Imagination."
With a unique voice, Kilby writes from a specific literary and philosophical context that relates art and aesthetics with beauty, and all that is embodied in the classics. His work is particularly relevant today as these topics are being embraced by Protestants, Evangelicals, and indeed people of faith from many different traditions. A deeply engaging book for readers who want to look more closely at themes of art, aesthetics, beauty and literature in the context of faith.
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What a great gift to read the collected writings of this gentle, brilliant visionary, teacher and friend! I can say, like so many others, it was Clyde Kilby who set my course in life. Like the dandelions he tended all winter, we flourished under his wisdom and care. Now his remarkable words on the page act as a kind of resurrection. We can hear his voice again and bless his memory.
The Arts and the Christian Imagination is a landmark book. Its scope is breathtaking, bringing together in one place well-known signature essays by Clyde Kilby and unknown but equally excellent ones. The essays in this book, masterfully edited, sum up what a whole era wanted to say about literature and art in themselves and in relation to the Christian faith.
It was my great privilege to take several classes with Clyde Kilby when I was a student at Wheaton. Now a new generation, and readers far from the Chicago suburbs, have the chance to experience the sparkle, wit, aesthetic insight, and deep Christian commitment that made Kilby such an unusually captivating teacher. Even without his hobbit-like presence, his words remain a true inspiration.
Thousands owe to this giant of Wheaton their ability to hear literary voices with Gospel-tuned ears. This sampler of his hugely influential writing will make the reader profoundly grateful for a man whose legacy is beyond measure.
Samuel Johnson said people need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed. Dr. Kilby reminds us of what it means to be made in the image of God and how art, in our creation and reception of it, illuminates, articulates and glorifies that original great mimesis. With wisdom and relevance, this collection provides a touchstone for the spiritual thinker in its reconciliation of art's true and beautiful purpose with the unspeakable, inimitable mystery of God.
To read the reflections of C.S. Kilby on art and the Christian imagination is to engage one of the most pertinently constructive interior critiques of American evangelical culture in the 1960's. His biblically formed imagination saw good and truth in what seemed to many of his generation astonishing places-French Catholic philosophers, agnostic novelists, psychic experimentalists, off-beat artists, mathematicians, mentally disturbed poets--and he asked fellow evangelicals, comfortably certain of the categories of their own perception, to examine whether or not some alien accounts did not square better with a biblical view of the human person than their own rigidities. To read these essays is to hear again his distinctively gentle voice in the classroom, and once again to gather many pearls of wisdom.
As I read Dr. Kilby's words in this book, Love, not duty, sends the artist forth, I recalled my class with him fifty years ago. I can still almost hear his voice as he read from Wordsworth: what we have loved others will love, and we will show them how. That line perfectly describes Clyde Kilby's life and work. As his student, I love what my dear Professor of English literature loved. I treasure this collection of his essays on Arts and Christian Imagination.