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Archive for October, 2019

Beauty has been neglected across our culture, even abandoned. This is partly because the Protestants regarded beauty in our churches as a possible idolatry. But the cure for idolatry is holiness, not ugliness.

There’s a famous story about Mothere Teresa of Calcutta using a donation to purchase a gold paten. The donor was upset: he gave the money for the poor. Mother’s response was, “You do not understand poverty.”

My Swedish mother learned, in her immigrant community, that is was barbaric to serve potatoes without a sprig of parsley. Look at the Japanese food presentation, or the French. You can do this in some small way; it is not expensive, it requires consciousness. Find a flower, or, in the winter, a stone or a statue, and put it the center of your table. Or find an herb, carve a carrot, steam some broccoli Romano. Protect yourself from the barbarism that naturally arises when hunger is allowed to overwhelm a person’s consciousness.

In her stunning prison camp memoir, And I am Afraid of my Dreams, Wanda Poltowska gives an impressive description of the heroic battle of the Polish prisoners in Ravensbruck to hold out against the temptation to let food dreams sweep their consciousness as they were starved, some of them to death, week by week, and month by month. They just would not do it. When the camps were freed, many prisoners died of overeating. Wanda describes her inspired desire for a simple cooked cereal, and her slow eating of it, safely reintroducing her stomach to food. She went on to study medicine and then psychiatry and at last she worked with Pope John Paul II and with Jerome LeJeune to start the Pontifical Academy for Life. All three of them loved beauty.

Beauty is not an extra; it is a responsibility, to seek, to notice, to provide; and it will give you courage. In every undertaking, starting with the food that you need every day, but continuing with your bedroom, your book covers, your desktop, and yes, your clothing, but also your posture, voice, and smile, make beauty your aim.

Theological virtue

Beauty is the clothing of hope, which in its turn, even rises to the dignity of a theological virtue. Just as the theological virtue of faith is the turning of the mind to be formed by the truths of our faith, and the theological virtue of charity is the turning of the heart to be formed by the love of Jesus Christ, hope as a theological virtue is the turning of the imagination to be formed by the creative joy of the Holy Spirit who infuses material creation with the message of the Divine Presence. It is a perfection of the imagination, and at the same time, it is the virtue which deals most directly with physical world. Yes, there are beautiful equations and beautiful philosophy, but these are called beautiful by extension, in metaphor. Beauty is about harmony, integrity, and luminosity in the material world. It is the incarnational virtue at the same time that is it the perfecting of the imagination.

You are responsible for your imagination; it is a work of cultivation that you must be committed to. Whole phalanxes of evil warriors in the anti-culture are working to suck your imagination down into the whirling black holes of their profit and your damnation; scary or merely ugly images are part of this. Fear actually shuts down the subdominant hemisphere of the brain, handicapping our thought processes.

Take charge. Put into your life the imagery that gives hope to your own heart and the hearts of those around you.

[Note: I posted this to my science site by accident. It is the third post about rules for life for women, in response to Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life. See megonfire.wordpress.com

Blessings.

 

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