Beauty As a Moral Necessity

Photo by Paul at freedigitalphotos.net

Cynthia Pearl Maus (1880-1970) was an author and editor who inspired many with her writing on beauty and the arts.

We are so accustomed to thinking of beauty as merely decorative and ornamental that we forget that beauty is a moral necessity. God wrought beauty in the structure of the universe. Beauty is the high form of righteousness. Beauty and truth are not separated in God’s world, and they are not to be in human thought … God, who gave as much care to paint a lily as to forming the eternal hills, joined truth and beauty in holy union; and what God has joined together man ought not attempt to put asunder, because beauty has a moral value for truth (from Christ and the Fine Arts, emphasis added).

This view of beauty is pictured in the Bible. For example, Isaiah records God’s summons to man to look at the wonder of His creation:

To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. Isaiah 40:25-26

Or consider David’s famous psalm of the same theme:

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. … Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. Psalm 19:1-4

God’s creation (art) reveals his existence and the elements of his transcendent nature. It reveals the design, structure and purpose of mankind, and the wonder and nature of creation.

Human beings were given the task to create Godly culture. They were equipped with hands to cultivate the soil (Genesis 2:15) and with minds and hearts to cultivate the soul. (Genesis 2:19-20) People can use their senses and creativity to:

–          Compose a song no one has ever heard

–          Write a poem no one has ever read

–          Paint a picture no one has ever seen

–          Choreograph a dance no one has ever danced

–          Create a play no one has ever performed

The fundamental question: will these works of art reflect beauty or ugliness? Will they breathe life or bring death? In making life-affirming art, the artist – the secondary creator – reveals the Primary Creator. The artist’s secondary world reflects the wonder and reality of the primary world.

– excerpted from a forthcoming book by Darrow Miller

  
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