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Crossroads: Art and Religion

The Henry Luce Foundation announces the publication of Crossroads: Art and Religion in American Life, in collaboration with the Center for Arts and Culture in Washington, D.C. and published by The New Press. This book of essays is the result of a seven-year, multi-faceted project of research, scholarship, convenings, and community initiatives and endeavors to answer two fundamental questions: what links the arts and religion in American life, and what contributes to their separation?

Motivated by the Foundation's programmatic interests in both the arts and theology, and by instances of conflict between these two significant realms of American life as reported by scholars and by the press in recent years, the Luce Foundation initiated the research project Art and Religion in American Life. Activities date back to a 1994 conference that was intended to move beyond slogans and rhetoric and get at the root causes why, given their many similarities, art and religion are often perceived as adversaries, and why religious language is used to justify attacks on the arts.

Since that time, the Foundation has supported a three-part social science research agenda which is reveals much about Americans' experiences with arts and religion, and the perceived relationships between them. Briefly, the research projects are: 1) the insertion of questions on this subject in the 1998 General Social Survey and in the National Congregations Study, both of which report on the prevailing attitudes of contemporary Americans, conducted by Harvard professor Peter Marsden; 2) an "Elite Interviews Project" consisting of in-depth interviews with art and religious leaders nationwide, conducted by Princeton professor Robert Wuthnow; 3) case studies of community confrontations between religious and arts values in one major city, conducted by Princeton professor Paul DiMaggio.

The Foundation gathered additional information from several meetings held in 1998 and 1999. The first session included scholars and foundation representatives, and another convened humanities scholars to broaden the discussion. The role that the press plays in the ongoing relationship between the arts and religious communities, an important missing link, was explored in a meeting of journalists. And an artists' forum was convened in Spring 2000 as the final component of the Foundation's research. Building on the research, the Foundation is also working with leaders in the Twin Cities to develop a national model for community interaction.

Crossroads features a preface by Garry Wills and essays by Neil Harris, Robert Wuthnow, Peter Marsden, Paul DiMaggio, David Halle, Sally Promey, and Amei Wallach. The book is edited by Alberta Arthurs and Glenn Wallach and is available through The New Press (800-233-4830).

A monograph on this subject is also available from Americans for the Arts (800-321-4510).

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