“The thing that I was experiencing and dwelling on the entire time is that there are so many things that are not OK and that will never be OK again,” says Newsom. “But there’s also so many things that are OK and good that sometimes it makes you crumple over with being alive. We are allowed such an insane depth of beauty and enjoyment in this lifetime. It’s what my dad talks about sometimes. He says the only way that he knows there’s a God is that there’s so much gratuitous joy in this life. And that’s his only proof. … There’s so many joys that do not assist in the propagation of the race or self-preservation. There’s no point whatsoever. They are so excessively, mind-bogglingly joy-producing that they distract from the very functions that are supposed to promote human life. They can leave you stupefied, monastic, not productive in any way, shape or form. And those joys are there and they are unflagging and they are ever-growing.
~ Joanna Newsom
Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth! Sing to the LORD, bless His Name; tell of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the LORD made the heavens. … Splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty are in His sanctuary. Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength! Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name; bring an offering, and come into His courts! Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness; tremble before Him, all the earth! Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns! Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved; He will judge the peoples with equity.” Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD, for He comes, for He comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in His faithfulness.
~ David, a man who saw the Beauty, in Psalm 96 and 1 Chronicles 16
Oh beloved, it is true.
We are in an age that seems to have forgotten beauty. When one goes to the supposed ‘first-world,’ it is exceedingly easy to see. We have become vapid and rude. And even the things that stimulate are actually bitter and empty. We see our desires turn to cynicism. We feel our pleasure turn to cruelty. We sense our confidence turn to fear.
And just as we think we have won a battle, we find that we are ever further behind in the war against our souls. Politics brings no relief, but sucks us dry. Popularity becomes a treadmill that throws us off the back of its belt. Purchasing power inflates and floats away.
Even our institutions seem to be souring in ways that one might not have predicted only a generation ago. We are crazily polarizing out to the ends of ropes that are beginning to fray and will soon snap. Truth feels as though it is being turned on its head. Oh, it isn’t, but we are dizzy in our dash to disorientate people along lines of made-up intersectionality.
Things are actually easier to see in other places. This fool of a writer has the astounding privilege of having lived all over the world. Recently, it was China. And i own a house with my beloved wife, in the Visayas region of The Philippines. We have lived nearly everywhere, including Japan, Australia, Germany, West Africa, Indonesia, and The US. So, i do understand that unchanging Truth can come into focus in different ways.
And, in the developing world it is easy to see the fallenness of the cosmotic system that continually tries to ensnare the creation. There is a constant tug on the growing by the chemistry of industry. There is a layer of grime on the beautiful brown of the skin of the people alongside the roads. But, the eyes are the giveaway. There is this aghastedness at the unfairness and noise and corruption and failure of so many things.
But, it is in all parts of the world that something breaks through.
Can we see it?
Actually, i finally did one Sunday morning a couple of weeks ago. It was my last Sunday on Negros Occidental, in the Philippines, before moving back to the US after many years. We went to the little parish church near our house out on the edges of the sugarcane fields. And, it was a joyous thing.
Little moments like these are worth entire lifetimes. And, i am one of the Beloved’s beloved, so He has given me more than i can even begin to thank Him for. Actually, i am thankful that it will take forever, because it will take at least this long to try to get it all out in praise.
Sitting there in the mass, there was this sense of truly being in a ship on a stormy sea. The main section of a church building is called the ‘nave,’ and for good reason. It is a sanctuary – especially in the dust-choked, sound-swelled towns of SE Asia. As the waves of the cosmos slapped against the sides of that vessel, i realized that an incredible proof for the existence of G_d, was something that i had been missing.
I was so drenched in it, that i could barely see it.
In the midst of the heat and dust and despair was this beautiful place. It was like a bunker, but full of light. It was a Light shining in the falling dark of the world. It was drawing people into it. But the light is not glaring and garish like the sparkles of the world. No, it has weight to it, like bright shade under a beautiful, spreading tree.
So, are you feeling like the world is drawing you down into its ugliness? Oh, creation is good for sure. It is what we, and powers of darkness, have been doing to the creation that causes the distortion. This is another proof – in the negative – of His existence. Light shines in the darkness. Beauty overwhelms decay.
Tonight is your night. Allow yourself to be drawn into the Beauty. He will prove Himself to you too.
Only God may be adored, because only God is unlimited goodness, truth, and beauty, and thus only God deserves unlimited love.
~ Peter Kreeft