Quick read explores church's attitude towards art

I finished reading Historical Attitudes that Shaped the Church's Use of the Arts by Matthew R. S. Todd (Word Alive Press 2010 www.wordalivepress.ca). It's a short gem (about 170 pages, but only 107 are text, the rest are footnotes and references) I discovered at the recent Write! Canada Writers' Conference, which now has passaged marked and underlined for further reference.
Todd "has authored a variety of articles on cross-cultural work and music" and has been "extensively involved as a percussionist...(including) drumming for World Vision, Promise Keepers and the Vancouver Chinese Oratorio Society." The book often reads like an academic thesis, but Todd's experience in the arts--and his research--add a depth and breadth to the book.
He breaks down the Church history into four periods: Early Church to 600 AD, Medieval Church (600 to 1517 -- where his exploration the Church's adoption of Plato's philosphy--creating a dualistic body/spirit split--is enlightening of current attitudes towards the arts); Reformation Church (AD 1517 to 1799) and Modern Church (1800 to present). Each chapter explores the prevailing philosopies (within and without the church) that affected the church's attitude to the arts; and what that attitude was. He also specifies the attitude towards music in general and percussion specifically.
Much of what he writes I've heard or read before--although some of his denominational specific information shed some new light on the arts/faith conflict for me. One of his most significant observations on this topic is found in a footnote: "Many evangelicals need to get over obstacles in their heritage adn cross-pollinate with other Christian traditions. To be free in producing and engaging in literary art, it seems necessary to acknowledge all truth is God's truth, wherever it is found. Firthermore, there needs to be recognition that God gives genius and gifts to all people"
What Todd does, in the end, is give artists and churches a few challenges. In his conclusion he writes: "The struggle for renewal in a loving God with heart, mind, and strength has to include a diverson from burying or supressing artistic talents. It should entail the Church 'preaching a theology of artistic action [to] free artists.'... The way forward points to investigating Scripture, affirming the goodness of God's creation and encouraging art and artists in a further that holds profound potential." (emphasis mine).
If you happen to be in the Waterloo area between now and September 27, check out the Food Justice exhibit at Conrad Grebel University College. It's a collection of paintings intended to get viewers to think about the power of food as a right and how communities an work together to end hunger. For more information about it check http://tinyurl.com/3daqmo3