What happens when one of Germany’s most important writers, himself a Muslim, immerses himself in the world of Christian art? In this book, Navid Kermani is awestruck by a religion full of sacrifice and lamentation, love and wonder, the irrational and unfathomable, the deeply human and the divine – a Christianity that today’s Christians rarely speak of so earnestly, boldly and enthusiastically.
With the open-minded curiosity of a non-believer, Navid Kermani engages with Christian art in its great richness and diversity. The result is an enchanting set of reflections which re-invest in Christianity both its spectacular beauty and its terror. Kermani struggles with the cross, falls in love at the sight of Mary, experiences the Orthodox Mass and appreciates the greatness of St Francis. He teaches us to see the questions of our present-day lives in the pictures of old masters such as Botticelli, Caravaggio and Rembrandt – not with lectures on art history or theology, but with an intelligent eye for the essential details and the underlying relations to seemingly remote worlds, to literature and to mystical Islam. Kermani’s poetic school of seeing draws us in as we are carried along by his unique perspective on Christianity, re-igniting our interest in great art at the same time. We are captivated by his unique and brilliant Islamic reading of the West.