Archives For beauty

Ours is a largely youth-obsessed, beauty-conscious culture. We need
look no farther than the grocery store to know this so. Cosmopolitan constantly proclaims, with a picture of a young, beautiful person on its cover, how to have the best sex ever. Us, Self, Vogue, GQ, and People follow suite: images are almost always of young, attractive,
toned, in-shape people.

As if our lives would somehow be incomplete if we did not know that
Kristen Stewart cheated on Rob Pattinson. Apparently, such knowledge
sells magazines. Or something.

People even has annual feature proclaiming the “Sexiest Man Alive.”
That it’s an annual occurrence highlights the fleeting nature of beauty, and the fickle tastes of the populace. One year, it’s Ryan Gosling; another, Brad Pitt. Or George Clooney.

All handsome men, to be sure.

You know who would never grace the cover of People as a sexy man?

Jesus.

That’s right, God the Son, Second Person of the Trinity–the One Who made the Brad Pitts, Goslings, Clooneys, et al.

You know why?

image

Because He was ugly. That’s right: Jesus was not a “looker.” In Isaiah, it says that he “had no form, or comeliness.” In other words, He was not good looking. Was not possessed of a physical charisma. Which means that it was not His looks that attracted people to Him.

It was something else.

It was His strength of character, His moral authority, and yes the wonders He performed. He backed up His teaching with signs: turned the water into wine, fed the five thousand, opened the eyes of the blind…

Set the captives free.

Yet, none of this was enough to endear Him to the leaders of His day, who–as you know–called for His crucifixion. They denigrated His apparent lack of learning, and His city of origin (“Can any good thing come from Nazareth?”). And they wanted His head–because He threatened their power base.

This ugly man from Nazareth.

He would, as His followers are, be just as misunderstood today. And the last place you would hear of him would be in the pages of some beauty-obsessed magazine. You certainly would not see His visage gracing the cover of People, GQ, Vogue, Us, et cetera.

Because grace, like Jesus, is not sexy. Rather, it is scandal that sells, or that which titillates us. Revenge, by this world’s measure, is sexy. Forgiveness, however, is not.

Jesus was not the sexiest man alive, nor did He come to titillate, but instead to give sight to the blind, raise the dead, sets hearts free, and forgive.

And that’s enough for me.

How about you? What draws you to Jesus?

Call me a Luddite. Call me anti-science. Call me whatever you want–I don’t care.

All of which is prelude to this confession:

I don’t find the theory of evolution to be a tenable solution to this conundrum:

20120507-055036.jpg Why is beauty? What purpose does it serve?

Specifically, why is there such stunning beauty in the world? And why can’t science answer that question?

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not anti-science. In the taking of supplemental thyroid hormone, I benefit daily from the advances of science. But to me, science doesn’t answer the big questions, the “why” questions. Sure, it answers many of the “how” questions, but it delves more into process than purpose. And I think that we often lose sight of the forest…

You may say that’s not its purpose. That’s fine. I am however very much interested in purpose.

As such, what purpose does beauty serve in an evolutionary paradigm? (Oh, I know of pair-bonding, attractiveness in a mate, etc.). What I mean is: what purpose does all the random beauty we see on such stunning display serve? Evolution–mindless, cold, utilitarian, avowedly purposeless–discards the unnecessary in favor of the fittest. It is nothing if not efficient.

I’ve heard there are more efficient ways of reaching Machu Pichu, too–but what is that destination without the journey over the Inca Trail? In this way, evolution is all destination, and no journey. It’s all about the end, not the means. (I’m here speaking philosophically–metaphorically–of course–not in the concrete language of science).

(Listen: I have no problem with an “old Earth”–make it as old as you want to: it’s still not old enough. I don’t even have a problem with animal death before the Fall–because animals, while possibly having souls, don’t have spirits, and thus there is no “plan of salvation” for them).

Nota bene: I am a Christian. I make no apologies for that, nor will I make apology for the Christian faith. I’m not trying here to defend anything other than my own thoughts.

Note well, however, that I am very sorry for the excesses, and abuses, done in the name of Christ. If you have been hurt by someone who stood in the place of God, someone who misrepresented him, I am truly sorry. Please forgive us. Please forgive me. For I have certainly misrepresented him a time, or two (or three, or four).

But I digress…

What purpose, for instance, does all of the exotic beauty awaiting us at the bottom of the sea serve? Unless it was put there by a “capricious” creator, waiting to be found. To me, it is this seeming randomness seen in the creation that points to a reality, a paradigm, beyond our senses.

I think God delights in our exploring, in our discovering.

The world–the very universe–is full of artistic flourishes that serve no other purpose than to stun us with their beauty. It is these touches that, for me, point to something beyond what the eye can see.

As the artist knows: in any work there is nothing left to chance. When I look out the window, step out the door, I see the fingerprints of God everywhere.

Put another way: believing is seeing.

The world didn’t have to be beautiful.

What do you say? Does evolution do it for you? Does it have sufficient explanatory power–the weight of “emeth”–does it ring true for you? Sound off in the comments: