The Setting Sun in a Foreign Land

Experience and the written word seem to indicate that separation is beneficial on various levels. Thus, in order to truly appreciate something, one must be separated from it for an extended period of time in order to see it again with a new perspective.

As G.K. Chesterton observed in his characteristically paradoxical manner, ‘The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign lands; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.’ [1] In many ways, absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder.

Over the past year, a persistent, yet unintended, thread woven throughout the fabric of our articles and reviews has been one of reflection, nostalgia, and the appreciation of life and all of its constituent parts. Yet, if we pause to reflect upon the role of imagination and the arts, a primary purpose is indeed to offer new perspectives by means of separation—a symbiotic expansion and constriction of our lenses—and to enhance our understanding of theology in all of its various hues, both individually and collectively. Thus, we are able to see the forest and the trees, both literally and metaphorically.

As an extension of the research and writing that takes place within the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts (ITIA) at the University of St Andrews, our publishing schedule follows the rhythms and patterns of the academic year. As a result, it is customary for us to take a break during the summer months in order to focus on travel and writing for conferences, along with other academic commitments. Hence, as the days are lengthened through the extended light of summer, the sun will be setting on our publication schedule for a short period.

Yet, the setting sun provides the opportunity to pause and reflect further upon the journey to this point and affords a new appreciation for the conversations that have been fostered through both ITIA and various international scholars working within the interdisciplinary spaces of theology and the arts.

In our endeavour to explore the interface between theology, imagination and the arts this past year, it has been our great pleasure to present contributions from scholars residing throughout the world and to increase the presence of alumni and current students pursuing research within ITIA. While there are too many to name individually, I would like to take this opportunity to thank each person who invested time and energy in order to introduce all of us to new ideas, artists and perspectives through their scholarship amidst all of the other commitments that yearn for our attention.

Likewise, I would like to thank our editorial team who has worked tirelessly this past year to ensure that our publication schedule remained consistent and professional. In particular, I would like to thank Kimberley Jane Anderson (‘Billie’) for her tremendous effort to provide book reviews throughout the year. She has spent hours researching to find new books and working with reviewers to introduce our readers to new and engaging scholarship pertaining to theology and the arts.

Finally, I would like to thank each and every one of you who has supported our online journal and shared our contributions with friends and family throughout the world. We understand that the Internet offers a multitude of sources to read and we are honored that you spend a small part of your valuable time with us.

It has been exciting to see the immense growth in our readership over the past six months, as well as a vast increase in those individuals who follow us on social media.  It is a testament to the invaluable contributions of our writers and reviewers that have garnered such interest.  If you would like to receive regular updates on announcements, articles and reviews as they are posted, please follow us on Facebook and Twitter.  At the same time, we will continue to post announcements, upcoming conferences and newly-released books throughout the summer as they become available.

As we bid ‘adieu’ until September, may you enjoy your summer while you travel to new and old places alike in order that you may indeed return safely to the ‘foreign land’ of home.

Laus Deo,

Brett H Speakman


[1] G.K. Chesterton, ‘The Riddle of the Ivy’, The Daily News (6 July 1907).

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