In Michael Ward’s “Planet Narnia” book he describes C.S.Lewis’s love for truth and beauty like this:
“the wise man does not think only in the category of truth; the category of beauty is also worth thinking in” – Planet Narnia pg27
Lewis had a particular joy in looking upwards at the great stars of the sky (planets) and seeing their beauty. I think it helped him see a world that couldn’t just run on truth alone but it needed the artistic strokes and writers myths to make us more human.
Furthermore a world of pure fact feels too close to the world portrayed in “Equilibrium“. Burn the books, take away the poetry and the paintings. Take away the beauty of the world and your left with emotionless fact. And the only way to make sure it stays that way is to take away any form of sense – of feeling. A quick pill and your deadpan.
That’s not a world I want to live in.
It wasn’t Lewis’s world either.
His pursuit of beauty was also reflected in the way he saw the Christian Gospel, the true Myth, that for him contained the most beauty. But he wasn’t a stranger in seeing that other forms of myths (pagan), also contained beauty and elements of truth. This is a rather fascinating area to delve into and I may ponder over it a bit more some other time.
But what got me wondering was how the Christian thinking and speaking of the Gospel can sometimes be void of beauty. It’s easy to get so caught up in presenting the gospel so accurately that the joy has been sucked out, the beauty has withered.
There is a danger of just presenting reasonable facts at people, laying the evidence on the table then hoping someone will grab at it with both hands. Maybe some do. But I fear their encounter with Jesus will look more like a scene from “Equilibrium” than an encounter with Aslan in “Narnia”.
“I have come,” said a deep voice behind them. They turned and saw the Lion himself, so bright and real and strong that everything else began at once to look pale and shadowy compared with him.”
― C.S. Lewis,
It would seem that Ward and Lewis can see that the world needs both. I like that. As humans we thrive the most when that’s the case.
The foundation may be truth, a solid rock to build your house upon. But then you decorate your house with beauty, enjoying the wonder of it all.
Then you invite people in.
Come, taste and see the beauty and the firm foundations my house stands upon. Then everything the world has to offer will “look pale and shadowy compared with him.“