a confluence of theology and the arts (Dunedin, 29–30 July 2011)


The traditions of artistic expression and of Christian faith are richly intertwined. Artists help us to see differently. They draw attention to the order of things, and to their disorder. They help us to see the world’s beauty; they present us with its simplicity, and confront us with its tragedy. Now and again the work of artists becomes something more. Like all human gestures toward the truth of things, the work of artists can become an instrument through which God calls for our attention.

Attentiveness to God is also the task of Christian theology. Theology is, simply, a mode of attentiveness to the self-disclosure of God, and a striving to see the truth of things in light of that self-disclosure.

This conference is premised on the conviction that artists, theologians and people of faith have things to learn from one another, things about the complex inter-relationality of life, and about a coherence of things given and sustained by God.

It aims to bring painters, poets, musicians, indeed, artists of all descriptions, together with theologians, and with people of faith, to explore a particular theme; can there be repair? Can there be a mending of the world, wounded as it is by war, by hatred, by exploitation and by neglect. We have chosen the Hebrew phrase ‘Tikkun Olam’ – to mend the world – to signal the conference theme, and to pose the question: Can there be repair? Can art and can theology tell the truth of the world’s woundedness and still speak of hope? Can poetry still be written after unspeakable tragedy, a concerto played, a brush taken up? Must it be written, played, or taken up, perhaps more than ever?

We invite you to join us in exploring this theme.


Dates & Place

29–30 July 2011. Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership, Knox College, Arden Street, Dunedin (Map)



The theme will be addressed by a range of speakers including Professor William Dyrness, Professor of theology and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary, California.

Professor Dyrness has over 30 years of teaching experience in the U.S., the Philippines, Kenya, and South Korea. He has published work in a variety of fields, including theology and culture, apologetics, theology and art, and global missions. His recent works include Poetic Theology (2010), A Primer in Christian Worship (2009), Senses of the Soul: Art and the Visual in Christian Worship (2008), Reformed Theology and Visual Culture: The Protestant Imagination from Calvin to Edwards (2004), Visual Faith (2001). He has also served on the national boards of Christians in the Visual Arts (Wenham, MA), 1999 to 2005. He is currently at work on a major research project on the use of visual images in worship in Christian, Buddhist and Muslim communities.


Conference Programme


1000–1030           Registration & Refreshments

1030–1040           Welcome

1040–1140           Paper: Bill Dyrness, ‘The artists’ role in healing the earth’

1140–1200           Discussion

1200–1300           Lunch

1300–1345           Paper: Jo Osborne and Allie Eagle, ‘The Sudden Imperative Men’s Series’

1345–1430           Paper: John Dennison, ‘The interesting case of Heaney, the critic, and the Incarnation’

1430–1530           Themed Conversations: Tikkun Olam (Convenor: Murray Rae), Film and Faith (Convenors: Kevin Ward & Mike Riddell) and Art and Worship (Convenor: Mark Pierson)

1530–1600           Afternoon Tea

1600–1645           Paper: Carolyn Kelly, ‘Re-forming beauty: can theological sense accommodate aesthetic sensibility?’

1645–1730           Paper: Jono Ryan, ‘Questioning the extravagance of beauty in a world of poverty’

1800–1915           Exhibition opening @ The Temple Gallery (29 Moray Place, Dunedin)

1930–2030           Conference Dinner @ Asian Licenced Restaurant, 43 Moray Place. (The banquet is $18 per person.  Please email Catherine if you would like to book a place)

2030–                    Film: ‘Insatiable Moon’


0900–0945           Paper: Murray Rae, ‘Re-building from the rubble: architecture, memory and hope’

0945–1030           Paper: Julanne Clarke-Morris, ‘Multimedia art – a liturgical approach’

1030–1100           Morning Tea

1100–1200           Themed Conversations: Artists and Faith (Convenor: Jason Goroncy) and Poetic Theology (Convenor: Bill Dyrness)

1200–1300           Lunch

1300–1400           Paper: Darryn George, ‘We hurt … We hope’

1345–1430           Paper: Andrew Panoho, ‘Parables of hope’

1430–1500           Wrap Up, and Thought Gathering: Jason Goroncy


Registration & Contacts

To register for the conference, please complete and return a Conference Registration Form.

For further information, please contact Jason Goroncy or Murray Rae.