We come to the final transcendental this week as we encounter Beauty. Over the weeks of Advent we have journeyed through these ideas that are present in every single thing, indeed in being itself – ‘Omni ens est unum, bonum, verum et pulchrum’ – that all being is one, good, true and beautiful.
“The quality of something that brings pleasure or delight to the senses, or satisfaction and meaning to the mind through its appearance, value, usefulness, or desirability. This quality is exhibited by God and instilled in creation.” Mangum, D. et al. eds., 2014. Lexham Theological Wordbook.
The word for beauty that is commonly used in the Hebrew bible is used primarily for a description of human beauty and it is androgynous – referring equally to masculine or feminine beauty. Beauty is also the easiest experience to help us to connect to God. When we have that moment of encountering a beautiful scene in nature, or a work of art, literature, music or another person we are often left breathless. That moment will often lead us to ponder upon the wonder of God and help us to have that sense of connection with all creation – which is one of the surest indicators that we are in the presence in that moment of one of the transcendentals.
Like in the other realities that we have explored during these weeks, there are as many failures in the experience of beauty as there are concerning unity, goodness and truth. There is a fickleness in the societal experience of beauty, and yet we are so deeply formed by trends and fashions that rarely last more than a season or two. Images of beauty that adorn the covers of too many magazines are contrived and manipulated to remove all signs of true humanity which are found in the flaws and blemishes and wrinkles that help to define our true beauty.
Recorded at St Paul’s, 10am (14mins)
Matthew 1:18-24; Isaiah 7:10-14; Romans 1:1-7