Edited by Doug Adams and
and Michael E. Moynahan, SJ
Paper, Regularly $29.95 on sale for $19.95
179 pages, 8½" × 11"
ISBN 0-89390-546-1

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The church of the 21st century is marked by increasing diversity. Postmodern Worship & the Arts makes the point that only the arts — which communicate to all of the senses rather than one — can communicate across the languages and cultures that divide people. This anthology was assembled to honor James L. (Jake) Empereur, SJ, the first editor of Modern Liturgy (now Ministry & Liturgy). Ranging through visual art, drama, movement, humor, music and other arts, the book raises questions that need to be answered, such as:

  • Why are so many of our celebrations starving in the midst of plenty?
  • Why does the Advent wreath have no chance against Santa Clause?
  • Can we have a conversation between faith and culture?
  • Has the modern liturgical movement lost its energy?

"[Postmodern Worship & the  Arts] confronts head-on many of the liturgical challenges that face us in the postmodern world. Jake Empereur's chapter helped me to see what many of the issues are that separate the Christian message from postmodernity. His suggestion that the modern liturgical movement may be runnning out of steam and that a new movement may be necessary should ignite discussions in many circles."
— William Burns, Publisher, Resource Publications, Inc.


About the Editors

The late Doug Adams was, until mid-2007, professor of Christianity and the Arts at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California.
Michael E. Moynahan, SJ was a student of Jake's at JSTB/ISW, and is currently rector at Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA.

Table of Contents

Introduction — Doug Adams and Michael E. Moynahan, SJ

  1. Ambiguity as a Gift of Arts to Formation of Inclusive Community ł Doug Adams
  2. Liturgy that Does Justice: acts of imagination, courage and curiosity — Janet Walton
  3. Beauty and the Beast: Criteria for Artful Liturgy — Joyce Ann Zimmerman
  4. Hierarchy and Liturgical Space — Lizette Larson-Miller
  5. New Intelligence for a New Millennium: Drama and Biblical Humor — Mike Moynahan, SJ
  6. "Kennst du das Land?" Comments on the Implications of Diverse Settings of a lied on Goethe as a Source of Insight for the Ordinary of the Mass — Louis Weil
  7. The Christian Worshipping Community and the Confucian Art of Li — Timothy D. Hoare
  8. The Role of the Arts in Worship — Joan Carter
  9. Anselm KieferĘs Covenant with the Land: Sacramental Art — Xavier Seubert, OFM
  10. Liturgical Dance: State of the Art — Carla De Sola
  11. Come Dance SophiaĘs Circle — Martha Ann Kirk, CCVI
  12. Why Are They Writing This Music? Reflections on the Popular Liturgical Music Market — John Foley, SJ
  13. Three Funerals (and a film) — John Baldovin, SJ
  14. Educating for Inculturation: Reasons Why the Arts Cannot Be Ignored — Eduardo C. Fernandex, SJ
  15. The Challenge of Cultural Diversity and Liturgical Planning: Sociological and Constructivist Responses — Shane P. Martin
  16. Cultural Anthropology and Creative Inculturation of Liturgy in the South Pacific — Tom Splain, SJ
  17. Sensual Liturgy as Hispanic Worship — Arturo Perez Rodriguez
  18. How Can the Church Worship in Post Modern Times? — James L. Empereur, SJ


We find ourselves at the dawn of a new millennium. This involves both an ending and a new beginning, a death, and a new birth. The poet T. S. Eliot, in his Four Quartets, reminds us that what we call the end is really the beginning. "The end is where we start from."

The world seems to be shrinking in many ways. Thanks to the technological advances in transportation (air travel) and electronic communications (e-mail), people don't see large distances necessarily dividing them. Ideas and information are much more easily exchanged than at the beginning of the twentieth century. We still, however, continue to look for those things that both express and nurture a common identity among us such as common beliefs and a common language. These are two things that will mark us irrevocably as one global community. Arts have emerged as the primary language of our day.

This new millennium breathes renewed hope and new life into many of our interests and endeavors. This volume, Postmodern Worship & The Arts, is a book that explores common beliefs (worship) and a common language (the arts). It brings together the work of numerous scholars who work in the areas of worship, education, and the arts. All the authors share one thing in common. They have been students, colleagues, collaborators, and friends of James L. (Jake) Empereur, SJ.

Jake did his doctoral work in worship at the Graduate Theological Union under the renowned Massey Shepherd. Jake spent over twenty-five years of his life at the GTU. During this time he was a faculty member of the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley. He dedicated himself to teaching young theologians preparing for ordination, crafting renewal programs for international ministers from all over the world, directing the work of graduate students at the GTU who explored the relationship of theology and the arts (Area VII of the curriculum), acting as mentor and spiritual guide to many who sought his wisdom and help as they continued to grow in their theological understanding and the living of their faith life.

A continuing passion for Jake has been the arts in worship and religious education. He expressed, on more than one occasion, the irony of how easily a group of believers can come together around an art work and in worship but have such difficulty coming together around a doctrine. The existence of such a phenomenon invites the type of investigation that we undertake in this book to honor him.

We believe it is important to consider the future of the arts in worship and education. Our past experience, working in churches throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, convinces us that the arts are critical in this twenty-first century if we wish to be one in mind and heart and spirit. We have seen churches growing through the arts across divides of race, class, age, gender, and so forth. Some outstanding examples of this would be East Liberty Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh; Middle Collegiate Church in New York City; Glide United Methodist Church of San Francisco; San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio, Texas; to name but a few.

The essays in this book are divided into three sections. The first section explores the criteria for artful liturgy (Adams, Walton, Zimmerman, and Larson-Miller). The second section explores particular art forms in relationship to worship (Moynahan, Weil, Hoare, Carter, Seubert, De Sola, Kirk, Foley, and Baldovin). The third section examines a variety of important implications of artful liturgy (Fernandez, Martin, Splain, and Rodriguez). The book concludes by allowing the man we honor to have the last word. For many years as editor of Modern Liturgy magazine, Jake Empereur offered an almost monthly column entitled "Rite On" in which he reflected on the topic of a particular issue. In this "Rite On" reprise, Jake examines how the church can worship in postmodern times. All of these essays will offer challenge and thoughtful help to those who are curious and concerned about the future of the arts and worship.

Throughout his life as a liturgist, teacher, speaker, mentor, writer, and spiritual guide, Jake Empereur has always invited us to notice the easily overlooked, to pay attention to the easily dismissed, to regard chaos as well as order as a potentially rich resource since God created out of chaos. Jake has been a model and challenge to us all. He has called us through his theological thinking, his liturgical writings and ministerial example to find those bridges between liturgy and justice, liturgy and life, liturgy and culture, education and culture, and on and on. Jake's work and his ministry have always pointed others to look to the horizon, to become aware and respond not simply to the here and now but to what an exploring faith, a resilient hope, and a compassionate imagination can bring into being. It is our strong hope that Postmodern Worship & The Arts will act as our collective "thanks" and "yes" to the challenging and life-giving road that Jake Empereur has shown us through the witness of his life and ministry.

Doug Adams (Berkeley, Calif.)

Mike Moynahan, SJ (Firenze, Italia)