The original book in the It Was Good series was published in 2000. It had an essay in it about acting by Dale Savidge, the executive director of CITA (Christians in Theatre Arts). Since then, we've received many requests to speak to the performing arts in greater depth. Now, after over five years in development, we are delighted to announce that It Was Good: Performing Arts to the Glory of God is complete.
The contributors (and topics) in the book are: Charlie Jones (performers), Robert Bigley (gospel), Denis Haack (story, Chris Cragin-Day (playwriting), Aaron Craig (documentaries), Chuck Simmons (hospitality), Jenifer Ringer Fayette (audience), Martin Landry (expectations), Elizabeth Richard (consistency), Sean Gaffney (theophanies), Marlaina Seay (set design) Brian S. Chan (shadow), Brian Godawa (horror), Camille Hallstrom (incarnation), Skip SoRelle (sound design), Anthony Guyer (live sound), Gaye Jeffers (listening), Abigail Kileen (trust), Elizabeth Dishman (choreography), Candace Vance (marriage), and Alissa Wilkinson (criticism).
Early reviews of It Was Good: Performing Arts to the Glory of God are in, and the praise is effusive:
"Like its companion predecessors, It Was Good: Performing Arts to the Glory of God is both practical and theological. It’s no cliché that artists struggle to find their way in an increasingly pragmatic niche culture—even more so for Christians in the performing arts. The latter group finding themselves largely misunderstood and vocationally marginalized by the Church. After all, what true kingdom good comes from spending valuable time becoming a dancer? As it turns out, it’s not a waste of time at all. Especially so for the only audience who should matter: Jesus. As the title says, let it all be done to the Glory of God."
Composer, recording artist, and Co-Founder of Art House America
"This is a wise book written by experienced practitioners who have been in the trenches of creating art from a Christian worldview. It ain’t easy, and if you want to try it, I suggest that you read this book."
Founder & Artistic Director, Fellowship for Performing Arts
"Whether you are a seasoned professional or beginning to consider a career in the performing arts, there is much wisdom to be gleaned from the pages of this addition to the It Was Good series. From practical advice to passages of profound and moving insight, it’s all here. And it’s a wonderful handbook to have within reach when you need encouragement or want to know how others in these fields have handled the workload, the creation of art, and the walk of faith
that undergirds it all."
Chair of Media, Culture, and the Arts program at The King’s College in New York City
"We tend to forget: art is performance. Whether a film or a dance or a sonata, a work of art is meant to communicate meaning to the audience. This third installment of It Was Good takes full cognizance of this joyful responsibility in the arts and guides us into the extraordinary range of possibilities in telling a story. Must reading for anyone hoping to understand how the arts work, from a Christian perspective."
Professor of Apologetics, Westminster Theological Seminary, and author of Created and Creating: A Biblical Theology of Culture
"There is an ancient and hallowed saying that goes something like this: “Keep a good thing going!” And that’s exactly what the editors and contributors to the third volume of It Was Good have done. It’s especially important to focus on the performing arts because they can be harder to find and hold onto. Here are art forms that possess their own set of richly metaphorical analogies to scripture and the spiritual life. Consider this my standing ovation."
Editor of Image
"There are so many distorted perspectives on the performing arts (both outside and inside the church) that it makes it difficult to maintain a biblical perspective. This book, written by accomplished artists from every corner of the performing arts, is chock full of important truths—truths you may have felt but never heard articulated, or perhaps ones you once knew that have faded over years in the business. This book refreshed, refined, and refocused so many of these truths for me, and I would highly recommend it to any Christian in the performing arts."
Executive Director of the Servant Stage Company
"It Was Good: Performing Arts to the Glory of God is a great book of wise counsel and encouragement. Whilst reading I felt comfort, guilt, challenge, and inspiration. It translates theology into practice, and point of view into purpose.
It Was Good rightly encourages the reader to see their art from a biblical, Christ-centered perspective. It provides, not one, but a range of scriptural rationales for the creative—a compass and series of maps to steer by that’s anchored in biblical thinking. It provides numerous perspectives to help the believer stand firm and grow spiritually in the creative performance industries. You won’t agree with every word—in fact the book is brave to be willing to contradict itself on occasion—but every essay will require contemplation and an active response from the believer.
I believe It Was Good: Performing Arts to the Glory of God is a must-read for every performing arts creative who wants to root their career and creative journey in their faith. Unlike other books I’ve read on the subject, this one is very accessible and meaty. You will come away satisfied by the contemplations and personal experiences that this book has to offer."
Founder of The British Youth Film Academy and director/producer of For Love’s Sake, Grace and Gravity, Birches
"To riff off Saint Irenaeus, could it be that the glory of God is not only a human being fully alive but also the performing arts fully alive? This volume shows in various and honest ways how this is the case, and in doing so, the authors do not shy away from the mundane, glorious mess of art-making and performing. They show how God is in the process as well as the product, and therefore inspire practitioners and appreciators alike to stay alert to glimmers of glory in each particular detail."
—Wes Vander Lugt
Lead Pastor of Warehouse 242, author of Living Theodrama: Reimagining Theological Ethics, and editor of Theatrical Theology: Explorations in Performing the Faith
"What did it really mean for Bach to write “Soli Deo Gloria” at the bottom of his work? How was this music yet another instance of sacrifice, worship, self-emptying, and nourishing discovery for him? This book is filled with stories of trying to live faithfully in the light of that same idea. Here, we see that an artist can be transformed, from a self-interested dreamchaser or cog in a corporate machine, into a fierce explorer, charting worlds of experience that many of us avoid, out of laziness, cowardice or both. To be a “living sacrifice” for God involves full-blooded, risky, embodied living, which—these authors remind us—is a kind of faithful performing. Whether you are an “official” performer or not, you are called to a depth of life and sacrifice these authors uniquely understand and articulate, precisely because they are artists."
Professor of Film and Digital Media/Director of the Baylor University New York program
"Split, our hearts, toward Love in all performance all the time in all places."
Artistic Director of Compagnia de’ Colombari and Lecturer at Yale School of Drama
"It was once remarked that if “art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him . . . We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth.” For my part, I would add that if Christianity is to again nourish the roots of our culture, the church also must set her artists free to follow their vision, and to utilize their voices and bodies to perform the truth. As the wonderfully talented practitioners represented in this compilation of essays make clear, theatre, music, and dance, are not enemies to be avoided but allies in the task of awakening the imagination, communicating gospel realities, and in rekindling connection to the breadth and depth of Christ’s working in this world.
While contemporary Christianity is learning how to rejoice in the visual arts, the performing arts seem to lag behind. Whether this relates to lingering suspicions regarding the body or to an awareness of the false gods of “showbusiness,” I look to others to say. But here, in bold and compelling style, the contributors to this volume not only acknowledge the challenges but grasp the positive opportunity that exist to glorify God in the performing arts. I pray this warm and wise volume reaches many Christians already in the performing arts and that it has a hand in recruiting the next generation so that they too might perform to the glory of God."
—Mark P. Ryan
Director of the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute and Adjunct Professor of Religion and Culture, Covenant Theological Seminary, Saint Louis, MO
"Every now and then a book comes along that strengthens your perspectives, encourages your heart, and inspires you to continue to “press toward the mark.”
It Was Good: Performing Arts to the Glory of God is just such a book. It offers practical wisdom from “many counselors” (as is commended in Proverbs 15:22) who have learned a thing or two along the way, and it reminds the reader—whether they are on the stage or in the audience—that the Lord places gifts and abilities in all of us. When we discover and cultivate those talents for Him, we gain the right kind of passion to do what we Love . . . and that, He will use!"
Producer/Director for Sight and Sound Theatres and winner of the reality television show, The Mansion