The Courage Of Senseless Beauty
Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.
So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
Years ago, I joined a gardening email loop for my rather severe northern region, in hopes of learning some botanical survivalism. At the time, we were very young and very poor. The garden’s final products, stored by freezing or traditional canning, were essential to our financial survival. And I certainly didn’t have a dime to waste on the frills of floral landscaping.
I mentioned to my new friends that I felt a bit of conflict, what with having babies and a house to tend, and bare threads to hold together. It seemed senseless to spend time and money on decorative gardening, much though I wished I could.
This generated some cyber-smiles, and the following remark which has always stuck with me: “You must grow flowers. Vegetables are good for the body, but flowers are food for the soul.”
Wherever there’s a moral podium involved, we sure can make a lot of noise about senseless evil, as I witnessed recently when a young reader posted her (Christian) opinions on the manufactured inclusion of same-sex characters in YA books. Apparently her opinions were considered by some to be an act of senseless violence in writing. (Why yes. That dripping sound is the sarcasm tank leaking. I’ll have to fix that someday. In the meantime, don’t worry, it’s not too combustible.)
Point being, everyone has their own opinion about this stuff, and the only widely-agreed-upon point seems to be that senseless evil exists.
In the kerfuffle, we forget that so does senseless beauty. Some things are inarguably beautiful, for no explicable reason. Argue with a sunset, if you will. That insensate phenomenon, without a word of reply, will make you look the fool.
Evil, we can wrangle. We can invent rationalizations. We can build boxes, however poorly we manage to stuff the vagaries of evil into them. But senseless beauty? Its only defensible, rational explanation lies in a personal, infinite and good Creator God.
True beauty doesn’t shy from the wretched facts any more than it indulges them; rather, it transforms their context.
Think about that every time you question what it is to write.
Two things, then, are necessary: to know God deeply, and to unabashedly refine your craftsmanship. Faithfulness and fluency. This is the transformation of an artist—a creature of darkness and fumbling ugliness—within a new context. (2 Cor. 5:17) God does not shy away from our wretched persons, nor our wretched facts.
When your writing of evil is a prayer of senseless beauty, you have defeated it. The pen is mightier than the sword.
Thanks, CathyLyn. This was great fodder for a post on Art And All That over at my blog: esthersholdfast.blogspot.com
“Argue with a sunset, if you will. That insensate phenomenon, without a word of reply, will make you look the fool.” Love it. Thanks for this.
No beauty is senseless. God created it. It inspires and betters us–it gives us glimpses of incomparable beauty to come–but I know this isn’t what you meant by “senseless.”
@Rachel: YW. I just realized why your name is so, so familiar…Homeschooling Today, right?
@KC: Exactly…the thing is, other frameworks of thinking lack solid explanation for many (if not all) phenomena of beauty. This identifies a flaw in their construction, and invites evaluation both of their weaknesses and possible stronger alternative worldviews.
Beauty is one of those things that, when we try to plug it in to manmade paradigms, breaks the logical flow of many rationales. Its “useless” existence has the power to actively disassemble false thinking, when we engage with it.
Thanks, all. This is most encouraging.
Yup :). I write their “Focus On Writing” and “Nature In Life” columns, as well as the occasional feature.
I copyedited for them for a couple of years, and have since put in a few articles here and there. Kewl.