Tuesday, August 24, 2010

On Beauty

My dear husband has come up with a wonderful, simple, concise definition of Beauty.  It's where Truth and Goodness coincide.  Whatever is both true and good is beautiful.

I've thought a lot about it recently, and tried on some examples to see if the formula fits, and it seems to me it does. 

Truth can be beautiful, as in discovering someone loves you.  Or truth can be ugly, as in the solution to a murder mystery novel.  What makes the difference between beautiful truth or ugly truth?  Goodness. 

On the other hand, something that on the face of it is good, may not to be beautiful.  I once knew a woman who was heavily involved in church and social work.  She was chairwoman of half a dozen do-good committees, serving the poor and the outcast and the victims of injustice.  She was highly admired.  All that is good, isn't it?  One day she confided to me that she was mercilessly driven to keep active, so as to keep her mind off her miserable marriage, and the woes of having a secret lover and not knowing what to do.  So her good works were no longer true; i.e., not proceeding from compassion or love or kindness, but from a pathetic lie.  The lie made her good deeds not actually beautiful at all, only apparently so. 

So goodness can be beautiful or not, depending upon whether it coincides with truth.

The one and only beautiful God is the Christian God, 'in Whom there is no darkness at all.'  He is the Truth, and the whole secret of the universe - the Truth -  is summarized in His mighty Love. 

And I still know of nowhere outside the Orthodox Christian Church where this God is consistently preached.  (By 'consistently' I mean without any logical/theological contradictions.)  Virtually everyone else either has a namby-pamby god who is too laid back to care much about 'sin' (with the curious exception of sins involving social injustice) or else, at the other end of this spectrum, a god who must punish every misdeed but, in his alleged kindness, punishes and kills Jesus in our place because otherwise he would have had to kill you and me.  That is not a beautiful god.  That is not a god who is good through and through, with no darkness at all.  Fortunately, that is not really the Christian God, either.

The Christian God is love; the Christian God God forgives sin.  His justice - not fully apparent until the end of time - consists of setting all things in order again, making everything right and good, putting things back to the way they should be, as if sin had never happened - in which plan, forgiveness plays a huge and essential part.  Our God is thoroughly beautiful.  In fact, our God is Beauty itself.


amy said...

Your post is a blessing to me! Thank you for sharing.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Your posts are often blessings for me, too, Amy!