beauty

The Mindless Iconoclasm of Our Age

Galla Placida, the regent for her young son, the emperor Theodosius III, was shocked when Saint Augustine died in 430 on August 28, three months into the siege of his city Hippo by the Vandals. He may have died of malnutrition, if not stress, because the wheat crop had not been harvested. As destroyers go, [...]

A Defense of Beauty and Excellence from the Classical Tradition

There are many serious problems facing moderns, but one of the most troubling—and worrying—is the loss and degradation of beauty, not just in the arts, but in society as a whole. Classical Greek philosophy, to which Catholic philosophy largely inherited and preserved, maintained that beauty and morality were intertwined with one another. When Christianity began [...]

The Body Beautiful and the Assumption of Mary

The age of the "body beautiful" will now become the age of the Assumption.  ∼ Ven. Fulton Sheen “I am empowered by my body,” Kim Kardashian declared back on International Women’s Day, voicing triumph in an infamous nude selfie. In a society that worships the brazen sensuality of the body beautiful while eviscerating any link between [...]

Why the World Fears Beauty

I have always wondered why people enjoy scaring themselves, intentionally. Around Halloween, for instance, entertainment-seekers spend good money to have someone frighten them—perhaps by watching a horror movie, or at one of those warehouses filled with demented decorations and actors hired to dress up in hideous disguises and jump out from hidden places to frighten [...]

The Role of Beauty in the Formation of Men as Men

Once upon a time in the Western world, exposure to “the beautiful” was an important element in the development and formation of men. The ideal man was also an educated man, and an educated man knew something about, and appreciated, good art, good music, good literature, and good taste (and perhaps also good wine). The [...]

Is Ugly the New Beautiful?

Summer has become a season of strange and stark irony. While it brings forth the beauty of the world, it also brings forth the ugliness of the age. The warmth and light are invariably attended by trashy fashion and tattooed flesh. These dog-days, there is hardly a street or a store without people who appear [...]

What is Civilization?

Is civilization worth defending? Should we aim to conform to it so that we can be considered civilized? Should we aim to bring our children up according to its norms so that they can also be considered civilized? Should we try to make our country and our world as civilized as possible? The chances are [...]

Beauty is for the Poor, Too

“How many poor people there still are in the world! And what great suffering they have to endure! After the example of Francis of Assisi, the Church in every corner of the globe has always tried to care for and look after those who suffer from want, and I think that in many of your [...]

Pop Music as a Bridge to God?: Engaging Christopher West

 On the one hand, there is pop music … aimed at the phenomenon of the masses, is industrially produced, and ultimately has to be described as a cult of the banal. "Rock," on the other hand, is the expression of elemental passions, and at rock festivals it assumes a cultic character, a form of worship, [...]

Benedict XVI and the Way of Beauty

 Something unusual is revealed here as well: the house of God is the true house of humans.  It becomes the house of humans even more the less it tries to be this and the more it is simply put up for him.  — Pope Benedict XVI In modern memory, has there been a Pope who [...]

Ever Ancient, Ever New: The Role of Beauty in the Restoration of Catholic Culture

When I began my seminary studies, I had only been a Catholic for a few years. I had converted to the Catholic Church during my undergraduate years at the University of Kansas through a course of studies in the Great Books called the Integrated Humanities Program.   When I started seminary, I was still learning the [...]

Beauty Will Save the World: From the Mouth of an Idiot to the Pen of a Pope

A popular quote we often hear but find hard to understand is "beauty will save the world." How will beauty save the world? The line comes from Dostoevsky’s novel, The Idiot, attributed to the main character, Prince Myskin. The prince, an epileptic Russian nobleman, serves as a Christ-like figure, who stands apart for his innocence [...]

The Black-and-White Pope

A few days ago we all had a shocking surprise as a Latin American, Jesuit archbishop emerged onto the loggia of St. Peter’s to the general joy of the Catholic world.  The rejoicing was widespread, but not universal, with some expressing misgivings.  These are clearly natural reactions, to be expected in any election, sacred or [...]

Benedict’s Enduring Legacy: His Love for Beauty

It won’t be easy to find a champion of faith and reason as simple and as profound as Pope Benedict XVI. In his many speeches and homilies, in his numerous books, he distilled rich currents of intellectual thought into beautifully crafted words that spoke to the heart as well as to the mind. He did [...]

Beauty Won’t Save the World Alone; Not Without Truth and Goodness

The title of Gregory Wolfe’s excellent collection of essays, Beauty Will Save the World, is based on a much-quoted line from Dostoevsky’s The Idiot. In its context it appears only in indirect speech, being attributed by one of the other characters to the “Idiot” of the title, Prince Myshkin. Thus in its original context its [...]

Building the New Rome

In 2005 I spent three months in Rome. In some ways I have never left. Perhaps it sounds like a commonplace to say that I “left part of myself” in the Eternal City. But the fact is, I did. I returned to Rome once more, in the spring of 2007, when I proposed to my [...]

Peter Rabbit

“Once upon a time, there were four little Rabbits, and their names were Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail, and Peter...” so begins a series of delightful tales of the lives and adventures of woodland creatures and farm animals.   Penned by Beatrix Potter at the turn of the 20th century, these examples of good imaginative literature have retained [...]

The Humility of Science, the Arrogance of Scientists

According to Aristotle, the nature of investigation and the proofs we assert depend upon the object.  That is, we do not look for mathematical demonstration when the object of our study is not a mathematical object.  It is even a reduction to dissolve a simple inanimate thing, like a quartz crystal, into a mathematical model, [...]

Cosmic Onions? How Still Lifes Point to the Liturgy

It is said that all the great art movements begin on the altar. So, for example, the gothic style began as the style for gothic churches and cathedrals in harmony with the liturgy. However, very quickly the architecture of mundane buildings of the period reflected that form too, adapted as appropriate to the purpose of [...]

What Makes Norman Rockwell Possible?

I must confess to an intellectual sin. I delight in the paintings of Norman Rockwell. I know I’m not supposed to do this. As a college professor, I have a duty to pretend to others that I derive real satisfaction from poems whose sentences cannot be parsed, from sculptures that look like green blobs from [...]

To Follow the “Way of Beauty”

In 1999, Pope John Paul II wrote a Letter to Artists. In this he called for a “new epiphany of beauty” and for a “renewed relationship between Church and culture” in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council. A “new epiphany” will not just happen by itself.  This article aims to set out a basis [...]

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