Beauty

By Paul Richardson

KIERKEGAARD WROTE that, “Christianity does not at all emphasize the idea of earthly beauty …” When I read this statement, I was at first left to wonder how such a brilliant mind could write something so off target. He had to be wrong. I began to read once again through the Bible, particularly the Psalms, looking to prove Kierkegaard’s error. Eventually I had to close my eyes and think for awhile. Slowly I began to grasp Kierkegaard’s words. King David was aware of the beauty of nature around him, yet creation always uplifted his heart. The beauty around him called him into a deeper awareness of God, awakening his awe of the One who creates. When I consider the work of your fingers leads David into, O Lord our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth. Romans 1:18-20 picks up on this theme, emphasizing that when we consider God’s art, we are invited to be enraptured by his invisible qualities, his unending power and his divine nature.

 ISN’T ALL ART a metaphor reflecting the inside world of the artist? When we listen to a song, we catch a glimpse of the heart of the person who composed it. As we look carefully at a painting, we get a chance to look through the eyes of the painter. I recall sitting on the grass watching A Midsummer Night’s Dream performed in a public park. The entire crowd was carried away together. We wondered, imagined and laughed out loud together before the dazzling display of humor, fun, mystery and frivolity. Yet the whole experience meant so much more than what we saw and heard that night. Even as we climbed into our cars and drove home, brushed our teeth and fell into bed, we continued to be startled that behind this awesome work of art, a poet named William Shakespeare hovered over a blank piece of paper with a pen in his hand and created that world. The purpose of all beauty is to illuminate the glory of its Creator. Beauty is meant to draw our hearts toward its matrix; or Source.

INTEGRAL TO THE CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW is the celebration of beauty. The awakening into beauty is a call to worship. We search for beauty in the mountains, in the sea, in the contrasting hues of darkened skies before the coming storm. The Spirit of God beckons us to see the beauty in people’s eyes, in the glow of dawn. Beauty is buried in the human heart. It is found in a gracious word, a newly penned song, an act of courage, the aroma of a lovingly prepared meal. Because God is the source of all beauty, all beauty leads us to a deeper awareness of God.

One Comment

  1. On the subject of strange comments from eminent Christian writers, I’m reminded of the perplexing last lines of G. K. Chesterton’s classic spiritual memoir ORTHODOXY:

    “There was something that Jesus hid from all men when He went up a mountain to pray. There was something that He covered constantly by abrupt silence or impetuous isolation. There was one thing that was too great for God to show us when He walked upon our earth; and I have sometimes fancied that it was His mirth.”

    What was Chesterton thinking? True, we read that “Jesus wept” but we do not read that “Jesus laughed.” We read that Jesus pushed over the tables of the moneychangers, but we do not read that he pushed Peter into the foamy surf as they walked along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. But how can we seriously think that a man who loved children and who was regularly lambasted for attending too many parties and eating and drinking too much was a man who never laughed, never danced, never told a joke, never frolicked and frivoled? Oh, Jesus was a very funny man, I’m sure. I’m just as sure that he knew the time and place for humor and that his chroniclers chose to record the substance of his teachings rather than his favorite riddles. Jesus was God, and so he lived better than any man could the full breadth of life. Jesus was fully man, and unless we are prepared to argue that humor is an accident to man’s personality rather than an essential quality, then we must conclude that Jesus laughed. And finally, does not Scripture say, “There is a time to laugh” (Eccl. 3:4)?

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