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Nature and Beauty

Updated: 3 days ago

There is a definitive relationship between human action and created human nature. We are created with a purpose and our dignity depends on acting in accord with that nature. Often in modern society, we are confronted with the claim that life is devoid of meaning apart from the subjective meaning that we give ourselves. Yet, the Christian moral worldview requires that all of our actions must be grounded in the goodness of creation and ordered toward love.

Sistine Chapel

If we examine postmodern art, we find skepticism toward epistemic certainty and meaning. We do not find art that elevates the senses, but rather, art that draws us downward. It often lacks beauty to draw us in and attempts to force a confrontation with a lack of human goodness and imperfection. Rather than hope, it leaves us in isolation to try to find whatever material comfort the world might provide.

On the other hand, Christian art is filled with beauty that raises us toward the sublime. While this beauty attracts the senses it also fulfills an important purpose, namely, to demonstrate the goodness and truth of creation and lead us toward God. There are many examples, but I am always drawn to the old gothic Cathedrals, transporting us to heaven by bringing heaven down to earth. Through beauty, we see the truth that we are meant to manifest divine purposes by our nature because, in known material creation, only we are capable of personal communion with the Creator. Our actions of personal love connect us to the love of God, manifesting the beauty found in the world.

Every agent acts toward an end and acts to produce what is like itself. We participate and act toward our highest good, God, even if we do not necessarily see it. All moral actions are necessarily evaluated through that ultimate end and the love which is commanded of us. The natural law which we are endowed with directs us toward right action which ultimately allows us to flourish. This is not merely a kind of morally imposed obligation and observance of law, but a cooperation with the divine love which was made Incarnate.

Christ makes God’s love imminent in the world. Through Christ, we know that human actions abide with the crucified and risen Christ. The ethical standards of the Christian are the standards of a love that offers everything, their entire life, for their beloved. We look at the Sermon on the Mount to see how we should imitate the divine goodness. We are driven to achieve the moral excellence Christ asks of his disciples.

The beauty of the world reflects the beauty of the Creator, pointing us toward His truth and goodness. The art inspired by this can help draw people toward the gospel, even those who weren’t necessarily seeking it. In a like manner, we participate in the divine nature and reflect the divine goodness into the world through love. Our art should be like the beauty of the world which points to something beyond itself, showing us the heavens on earth.



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