• Beauty – an Excerpt from von Balthasar

    “Beauty is the word that shall be our first. Beauty is the last thing which the thinking intellect dares to approach, since only it dances as an uncontained splendor around the double constellation of the true and the good and their inseparable relation to one another. Beauty is the disinterested one, without which the ancient world refused to understand itself, a word which both imperceptibly and yet unmistakably has bid farewell to our new world, a world of interests, leaving it to its own avarice and sadness. No longer loved or fostered by religion, beauty is lifted from its face as a mask, and its absence exposes features on that face which threaten to become incomprehensible to man. We no longer dare to believe in beauty and we make of it a mere appearance in order the more easily to dispose of it. Our situation today shows that beauty demands for itself at least as much courage and decision as do truth and goodness, and she will not allow herself to be separated and banned from her two sisters without taking them along with herself in an act of mysterious vengeance. We can be sure that whoever sneers at her name as if she were the ornament of a bourgeois past — whether he admits it or not — can no longer pray and soon will no longer be able to love.”


    « Previous Post Stewarding God's Mission in the World - Guest Post

    Next Post » It's Personal - Guest Post by Heidi Segal

    • Janet Fischer

      In the same way man has redefined god, he has also redefined beauty and anyone who dares speak the truth about what is not really beautiful is labeled close minded.

      • butchbutch

        Seems like you have redefined God to your own concepts. You do understand that when Balthasar uses the word, “beauty,” he is not referring to the latest sculpture down at the museum, not at all. Curiously, Keats in his “Ode on a Grecian Urn” says “Beauty is truth, truth beauty.” Maybe the physical urn tells us a metaphysical truth, in a way like Balthazar is.

        • Stephen Hard

          Keats’ purpose was poetic not philosophical and he makes a point–beautifully. Strictly, however, he is not correct. If beauty and truth are the same reality than there is no need to distinguish between them, but there is. Falsehood can masquerade as beautiful, but, ultimately, it cannot be. Truth, on the other hand, very often is not beautiful at all. It can be quire repugnant. When considering the actions of the perpetrators, the truth of the Holocaust is as ugly as it gets. There is also plenty of beauty when one considers St. Maximillion Kolbe and thousands of others who transformed the unfathomable ugliness. Yes, beauty does not simply refer to pleasing works of art, but it is something other than truth. To give Keats his due, I say he simply left out part of the equation. Truth + Goodness = Beauty. I am not as conversant with von Balthasar as I would like, but I believe this is the point of the above passage. Beauty is a manifestation of truth and goodness. When beauty is neglected truth and goodness will follow.

    • Pingback: a new earth - food for faith()

More Oikonomia