Saturday, January 17, 2015

Matters of Taste 2 / Beauty

"Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.3He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.…"    (Isaiah 53)

In reading some ancient Greek authors, we can see how beauty is a very important concept, but not one without subtleties, and not one without self-serving aspects.  On one hand it was seen as a "spiritual" concept, on the other it seems firmly rooted in the carnal.

In the Bible, we hear about beauty, too, but it is not what is worshiped.  

When we look at the natural world, we are overcome with the inherent beauty of it.  Nothing man makes with his hands can match it.  Art is lovely, but it is not the same.  And much of what man makes is quite ugly, repulsively so.  It does make us wonder how it is that the natural word is so incredibly attractive and awe-inspiring.

Now, the Son of God, the promised Messiah, the suffering servant, is beautiful in his own way, but also incredibly marred by his trials.  The crucified Christ is at the same time the most glorious and the most ugly.  The Greeks would not have liked the scene.  Could someone so despised and so bloodies be the King of Kings?  

We are not to be put off by him.  He stands in our place.

And in our days, we must not be put off by the trials Christians suffer around the world.  In Pakistan, in Nigeria, in Iraq, in Syria, and many places around the world, the persecutions have become severe.  And the secular western world is waking up to the dangers it might face to maintain a relatively free society.  The images, the savagery, the war mongering... are before our faces day and night, on Facebook, in the news, on our multiplicity of app's.  We can drink them in in varied forms day and night.  How do we live with this?

How do we live with this lack of beauty, grace, love, peace, harmony?

Christians did not use crucifixes to ornament things for a long time, as crucifixion was still a means of punishment and not a few of them were also crucified or thrown to the lions. In these latter days, people have again felt themselves called to exact such inhuman punishments on fellow human beings. 

Where is the beauty in it?  The beauty is in the love, the love that dies for another human being, that dies for an idea, for God;  love that sees something else than himself;  love that transcends self-love.  Love that does not concern itself so much with its own salvation as with that of another. 

That is beauty. 

(The Human Figure

  • Ancient Greece held the human figure as one of the highest forms of beauty. Gods were personified in sculptures that focused on the human figure, especially in action. Artists created pieces that depicted a person or deity with an ideal body, muscular and proportional, often with the torso turned in a counterpoised position to show the muscles in use and to create visual equilibrium -- a perfect balance of opposing forces. Stoic expressions were seen as noble and favorable, so beautiful subjects typically had neutral facial expressions.  Read more :

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