To Behold the Beauty of the Lord

By using the elements of this world, Art reveals to us a depth which is logically inexpressible. It is in fact impossible to “tell” poetry, to “decompose” a symphony, or to “tear apart” a painting. The beautiful is present in the harmony of all its elements and brings us face to face with a truth that cannot be demonstrated or proved, except by contemplating it. – Paul Evdokimov A while back, I suggested…

A Crisis of Beauty

There is a crisis of beauty within my culture. That is a very kind way to say that much of the world around me, at least the civilizational part, is ugly. It is not an ugliness born of poverty (though poverty is very ugly around here) – unless we understand that there is a poverty within the human spirit that begets ugliness. My thoughts on my environment are not just my opinion.…

Depth Perception

One of the great blessings of the human brain can be found in its ability to take two things and make them one. We have two eyes, which means they necessarily see things differently. Look at the world with one eye open and switch to the other eye. Things appear to move. Viewing the world through one eye also makes things appear somewhat “flat.” The wonder of “stereo-scopic vision” (seeing through two…

God and Creation

Conversations about “God” often discuss Him as though He were a concept, and idea that can be isolated, studied and considered. Of course, the word “God” can often be little more than a cipher for something whose meaning everyone thinks they know, but whose meaning may vary a great deal. This can especially be true when modern popular culture speaks of “God,” and we read the same word in a translation of…

The Beauty of Truth and the Existence of God

What is the criterion of the rightness of this life? Beauty.  – Fr. Pavel Florensky It is our habit of thought to think of Truth as, more or less, a correct description or a correct statement. As such, Beauty belongs to some other realm of thought. Beauty cannot be “correct” or “incorrect.” In Orthodox thought, Truth is understood as a matter of being (it is ontological). If something is true, then it…

The Shape of Scripture and the Orthodox Faith

I have written frequently about the Orthodox understanding of the Scriptures. I offer a quote taken from a lecture by Fr. Andrew Louth, Professor of Patristic and Byzantine Studies at Durham University, priest in the Diocese of Sourozh (Great Britain) in the Russian Orthodox Church. This passage comes from the first lecture in the series. I heartily recommend the entire 8 lectures. I could not possibly have said it better: What does…

Love Has No History

St. Nikolai Velimirovich’s Prayers by the Lake are a theological feast. St. Gregory the Theologian wrote wonderful theological poems – it is a form deeply suited to theology but too little used. I heard this poem recently on a broadcast from Ancient Faith Radio – it came at a very timely moment and allowed me to see and pray. Images such as “wandering through my soul like a wayfarer in the night,”…

The Evidence for Life

Like many modern people, I watch with some interest when there is another report back from the Mars Rover: “Will we find life on Mars?” Somehow I doubt it. I doubt life on Mars precisely because it is so hard to find. Our experience here on our home planet is that you cannot get away from life: it’s everywhere. We have gone to great depths in the oceans, measured waters of extreme…

Icons in a Literal World

The Scripture tells us that the “pure in heart shall see God.” I have always assumed that this describes a present event and not a promise about a distant life after death. We do not see God now, because our hearts are not pure. In the same manner, we do not see the reality of the world – because our hearts are darkened. I am increasingly convinced that the “literal” world that…

Rational Sheep and the Word of God

Any parent who has raised a child has witnessed the miracle of human language. Even children with handicaps find ways to communicate except in the most extreme circumstance. The genius of language is not something we learn – it is instinctual for human beings. Those who study linguistics and neurobiology recognize that we have an instinct for grammar – not the polite rules of a high school English class – but the…