Stingray was so lovely as to link me a couple of great sources in my comment box in regards to the death of truth (insofar as the World is concerned) and I’d like to discuss one of the theories in a little more depth.
I always liked this Father Barron video on evangelizing through beauty.
So how do we apply it? It’s not easy, but I think the most noticeable is how we live. People will notice it. Some may hate it, some may find it intriguing. But people see it. I think when we do our best to live as we are taught we should live, there is beauty there. We can use this beauty to show the Truth and for those willing to listen, to talk to them about it.
Also, I haven’t read the whole thing yet, but John C. Wright, who was a militant atheist and is now a devout Catholic, has his own ideas in how to do this.
Father Barron’s theory is that atheists and agnostics are often brought to God via the road of beauty. That once beauty (in action as well as visual beauty – because beauty incorporates goodness and truth) penetrates the mind, the heart turns to goodness and discovers an appetite for it, and then goodness leads to truth.
I don’t have anything to argue with that – as a matter of fact, i have another blog entirely devoted to beauty and craft https://hearthroses.wordpress.com/what-is-this-place/ . I absolutely DO agree – I think that we are doing the world as a whole a service when we create beauty in our actions, in our bodies, in our homes, in the things we produce, in the words that we say. I think that this true beauty is a wonderful ambassador for God, our Creator, and the source of all that is good and pure.
But just as Truth has been under attack for a century or so, so has Beauty – quite explicitly. Surely I don’t have to provide the examples of the things that are referred to as art in this day and age… http://www.vam.ac.uk/__data/assets/image/0005/181895/NAL.PP.22.J_ID_art_issue_1000px.jpg or as beauty… http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51bWXSD-4FL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg (but I did, anyway).
Our souls might know Beauty when we see it (and I believe that we do – there are studies of infants who have a desire for beauty) but our minds, our minds are under attack. Beauty is a real thing, and we really desire it. So there is a movement that attacks beauty, that seeks to “redefine” it as something other than wholeness, health, and that bit of something more.
There has also been a great cheapening of Beauty – since Beauty is a hard thing to define (even if we all know it when it comes ’round) some of the things that were once called beauty have been reproduced as second-quality and made un-beautiful, mere plasticine copies of the pure original.
So – since we, as Christians, have a defense against this constant assault against Beauty, and are free to know the Truth of same… how do we break through the armies assaulting the minds of those around us?
- Consistency: We have to pursue Beauty consistently – in our behavior, in our lives, in every thing.
- Intensity: We have to make the things we call Beautiful *so* beautiful that anyone can feel the draw
- Integrity: What we create must point to our Creator, by being pure and good and true.
- Availability: If what we have to offer is to be evangelistic, it has to be available to others. That doesn’t mean that our private spaces shouldn’t be beautiful – after all, our souls need feeding too – but if everything Beautiful in our lives is behind a closed gate, how will we use Beauty as an evangelistic tool?
- Prayer. For the Holy Spirit is the One who convicts, the One who calls hearts to Jesus, the One who does the work in the soul. We have the responsibility to work the ground, to throw out the seed, but only He can bring the rain that makes the plant of new life in Jesus take root.
This essay has been hugely comforting and encouraging to me. I am passionately in love with Beauty, and my soul is very easily affected by it. It’s easy to give in to the idea that because what we create on this earth is ephemeral, it isn’t worth our efforts or time. But if I can remember that as God is reflected in all of creation, though this earth will pass away, so – if I keep God in mind, and do all things as unto Him, perhaps He can be revealed through the works of my hands too.
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.As in water face reflects face, So the heart of man reflects man.For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
After all, this time of evangelism is but for a moment… and then we will live for all eternity surrounded by more Beauty than we can imagine. So what if the works of my hands, the words of my mouth, so what if they burn? If they can be used to bring any soul closer to Christ, if they can be used like cool water on a fevered brow to give solace to a weary heart, if they can encourage someone more clever or talented to do a greater work, then they have done their part. And so have I.
And this is part of my work – Beauty. So, thank you to Stingray for leading me back to one of my first loves…….. and making me see why, perhaps, I love Beauty so very much.