This June issue of the magazine is a sort of forerunner to SoF's annual Conference, which this year is on religion and the arts. You can read more about it on page 3.
The title of this issue of Sofia is The Art of Humanity: articles on various arts look at how art enables us both to express and create our humanity. First we have an article from Christopher Hampton on music. He focuses on Beethoven's last quartet and the fascinating question as to why Beethoven actually wrote words on the score: 'muss es sein?': ' must it be? ' and then later on: 'es muss sein': 'it must be'.
Next we have Don Cupitt writing about the visual arts. In a broad sweep through the history of European art he tells us how 'around the year 1800 or so in the West a new philosophy and a new understanding of art develop at the same time': artists don't just 'picture' the world as it is; they actually help create the way we see it. 'Art became a way of refreshing, questioning, criticising and revising the ways in which we all see and build our world.'
In a talk she gave to the Yorkshire SoF group called Do We Need Religion? Anna Sutcliffe defends art and what might be called the poetic aspects of religion, saying 'A flaw of the Enlightenment project, was the disparaging of poetic and mystical experience as such.' Philip Berry concludes his 'dialogue between atheist friends', The Struggle Shared. I am also including the talk I gave in April to the Oxford SoF Group, called The Art of Humanity, which is quite long, so that is why this editorial is quite short.
In the reviews section Anthea Boulton interviews novelist Wendy Perriam and Dom Henry Wansbrough, General Editor of the New Jerusalem Bible, reviews David Boulton's new book Who on Earth was Jesus?.
I hope this issue will give readers food for thought on 'the art of humanity' and that you will consider continuing your creative reflection and activity at the SoF annual Conference in July.