The neglect of beauty within Christian liturgy and practice in the last century have had visible effects on Christian worship. The last one hundred years or so have been a less fruitful era for Christian expression in terms of music, poetry, literature, architecture, and the plastic arts. This lopsided emphasis on propositional truth may have contributed to a century that has seen little in music to rival Bach or Mendelssohn, little in poetry to rival George Herbert, Isaac Watts or even Christina Rossetti, little in literature to rival Daniel Defoe, Jane Austen, little in painting to rival Rembrandt.
Sometimes throwaway lines leave a deep impression. One of those were words written on a blog I avidly followed about fifteen years ago. The writer said, “A good man does not love ugly things”. Words like that enabled me to see a profound link and overlap between what is true, good, and beautiful.
Real beauty nourishes Christian ethics. One of the effects of true beauty is to deeply humanise our souls. In fact, the kind of judgement we use to evaluate the beauty of art or a face or a scene in nature is the same kind of judgement we use to evaluate moral matters. Such judgement employs more than one kind of evaluation; it employs comparison and contrast; it uses memory and tradition; it attempts to relate parts to the whole or individual actions to the greater good.