An Interview by Dn. Evan Freeman with Dr. Gordon Graham

St. Vladimir’s Seminary’s Sacred Arts Initiative

Gordon Graham is Henry Luce III Professor of Philosophy and the Arts at Princeton Theological Seminary and an Anglican priest serving in the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey. He has published on a wide range of philosophical topics relating to art, education, ethics, politics, religion, and technology. He has also composed music and text used in liturgical settings within his faith community.

In September 2016, as a participant in St. Vladimir’s Seminary’s weekend symposium entitled, “Rethinking Sacred Arts,” Dr. Graham was interviewed by Dn. Evan Freeman, lecturer in Liturgical Art at the Seminary.

In this interview Dr. Graham explains what role philosophy plays in the understanding of sacred arts. As an example, he notes the connection between philosophical aesthetics and music, because of music’s remarkable powers: its ability to produce human emotion, even without words, and its ability to transform words into language that is communicable and expressive, and, in some instances, into a language that produces a corporate experience. Music enables us to worship in the right way, noted Dr. Graham, with text and sound that comprise a “composite.”

Dr. Graham also examines the terms “religious” and “spiritual” used so ubiquitously in today’s culture to define a person’s quest toward the Divine. Additionally, he likens sacred arts to “story-telling” rather than “systematic theology,” in that they depict or impart knowledge about God in a parabolic manner.

The symposium was the first in a series of events planned between Fall 2016 and Spring 2018, all of which are part of the Seminary’s Sacred Arts Initiative (SAI) funded by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation.

Watch the interview with Dr. Graham.