Special Adult Formation offerings are always a special part of the Advent season at St. Philip’s. For the past several years, art historian Dr. Kevin Justus has led inspiring series connecting fine art, the artists, the time frames and their intentions, examining not only what it meant to them but how their works can still be so instructive and powerful for us. Kevin Justus holds a Ph.D. in Art History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Previous to this, he received his Masters of Music and Master of Arts from the University of Arizona.
In 2006, “A Baroque Advent,” he compared two of the giants of the Baroque—Rubens, the king of sensual theatricality and spiritual intensity, and Rembrandt, the poet of intense subtlety and divine emotion—through a meditation on their works of art pertinent to Advent. The 2007 Advent series, entitled “Holy Extravagance and Sacred Energy,” was dedicated to Gianlorenzo Bernini and his profound insight into the mysteries and exuberance of the Faith. Justus challenged participants to allow themselves to be taken up in all the energy and exuberance of worshipping God through the power of Bernini’s work.
In 2008 Justus, with Dr. Julia Annas, jumped back in time to early Christian through Byzantine art and architecture, examining its precedents, what it absorbed from surrounding traditions, as well as its great innovations, and exploring the germination, development, and flowering of the great cultural tradition of the Christian Church that is still so powerful today. In 2009 Justus returned to the Baroque period, but in the Protestant North, conflicted between the suspicion of images and production of a spiritual visual aesthetic and between Christian doctrine and the amassment of wealth. Justus showed how artists captured this great dichotomy, successfully infusing spirituality and belief into grand historical Biblical narratives, and perhaps more profoundly capturing a Protestant sensibility in the depiction of everyday life and everyday objects.
In 2010, “Beauty, Beauty Everywhere, but What Is One to Think?” investigated seven of the most celebrated sacred spaces in Christendom, from Old St. Peter’s in Rome in the 4th century to 18th-century Versailles. Each in its own way played a pivotal role in the development of Christian Art and Architecture, and each in their own way is reflective of the period that created it, but despite the difficulty or controversiality of the circumstances in which they were created, their true meaning of Christian love, peace and power resonate and inspire us today. The 2011 series explored artistic visions of the Word made manifest, looking at Annunciations, Nativities, and Adorations. Justus discussed how great artists of the past dealt with depicting the mysteries of the Faith, making visible the invisible.
Advent 2012 promises another slate of inspiring and edifying offerings. On December 2, at 10:15 a.m., Barbara Churchill presents “The Many Faces of Christmas.” As we await the unfolding joys of this season, prepare for the coming Christmas season in a program that combines slides of masterpieces of religious art and 20th century secular art with readings from the scriptures and music of the season that will come with Christmas.
A 12:30 p.m. “brown bag and book dicussion series” on Christianity After Religion by Diana Butler Bass will meet on December 2, 9, and 16. Are you spiritual but not religious? Are you both? From where have these questions originated and why are they so often asked today? Richard Kuns and Brigid Waszczak lead a lively exploration of these questions and the burgeoning new vision for Christianity and the church. Reading specified sections of the book in advance is strongly recommended. The book may be ordered through the Little Shop.
On December 9, 16, and 23, at 10:15 a.m., Justus presents “A Renaissance Triptych in Celebration of Advent.” It is so easy in the contemporary Advent Season to forget what miracles actually took place —quiet miracles that defied all odds and reason, but yet promised such joy and fulfillment. We are so used to Christmas sound bites and visual vapidity, we neglect to remember how this Season was viewed and celebrated in the past. The three lectures of this series will examine how artists from the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries did just that. From Giotto’s revolutionary concepts of making the miracles more human, to Botticelli’s desire to emphasize the mystery, and finally how Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Raphael — the giants of the High Renaissance — chose to depict this moment of Divine creation and Divine genius. Each topic seeks to show how our Christian traditions can be still so powerful today while capturing the joys of Advents from the past that creates a powerful continuity with the present.
St. Philip’s labyrinth will be the focus for an Advent Retreat Day on Saturday, December 1, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Entitled “To Walk a Sacred, Holy Path,” the day will be an inspiring combination of learning, practice and reflection around our labyrinth, led by the Rev. N. Jean Rogers and Dr. Kevin Justus. During the retreat, participants will discover the history and inspiration for labyrinths through two lively retreat talks by Kevin Justus. The morning talk, “Soaring Heavenward—Understanding the Lost Language of the Gothic Architecture: Chartres and the Creation of Heaven on Earth,” will trace the development of the Gothic style from the Abbey of Saint Denis to Chartres. Participants will seek to apply what they discover about these sacred environments to their own lives. The afternoon talk, “The Cathedral of Amiens, St. Philip’s In The Hills and the Continuity of the Christian Tradition: Developing the Liturgy of and the Iconography for St. Philip’s Labyrinth,” will explore Amiens Cathedral and its unique history, from inception to completion—and its inspiration for the labyrinth at St. Philip’s. Following each of the talks, Jean Rogers will invite retreatants to discover how the labyrinth can help participants rediscover the depth of their souls and will offer methods for use while walking and praying the labyrinth. Each participant will receive an Anglican Rosary, prayerfully created by a St. Philip’s parishioner, with instruction for how to use the rosary for contemplative prayer. These sessions will be followed by time spent experiencing the beautiful St. Philip’s labyrinth. $25.00 retreat fee includes materials and lunch. Scholarship assistance is available. To register, visit the Adult Formation table in the Perry Garden on Sunday mornings, or contact the Rev. Greg Foraker.