Bruce Ellis Benson summarizes his opening argument in Liturgy as a Way of Life: Embodying the Arts in Christian Worship with this: “the fundamental structure of our lives is that of the call and response. That call and response can rightly be considered artistic in that we are – in our being – God’s works of art. That we participate with God in developing ourselves (not to mention being creators of specific artworks) is due to our call to be living works of art. And the way in which we live our lives, following Jesus’s example, is as liturgical beings who worship God in all that we do” (24-25).
He supports the notion of a call to artistry from Romans 12:1, which he glosses as an exhortation to “present your bodies as a living, sacrificial work of art.” We are not to be conformed to the form of the world, but to have a different form, produce a different sort of art, by the mercy of God. We are “God’s workmanship,” that is, His poiema, His art work. We are music: “While the principle meaning of [the Greek mousike] specifically refers to tones, rhythm, dance, and words, it’s much more than that. In ancient Greece, to practice mousike was also to be a scholar or philosopher. Even more broadly, it can simply mean ‘the cultivation of the soul’” (23).
He finds etymological support in the connection between “call” and “beauty” in Greek: “The Greek word for ‘call’ (kalein) is clearly etymologically connected to the Greek word for ‘beauty’ (kalon). . . . what makes things beautiful is precisely that they call out to us. The beautiful enchants us; it makes us want to look; it makes us want to listen.” And the good/beauty that calls is the result of a call, God’s call to existence (27-28).