Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Truth, Goodness, and Beauty

A very interesting idea was raised in one of my least favorite classes today, which then distracted my thoughts for the rest of said class.  It was part of a discussion responding to a guest speaker who had visited in recent weeks who formerly led an Episcopalian church which is engaged in some innovative, "contemporary" worship practices and which puts a great deal of emphasis on art as a medium of worship.  The speaker, we were reminded, had highlighted what he took to be three different ways that people engage with their faith:
  1. Truth- for this group its about the message being true.  Doctrine, and correct doctrine (and therefore I can imagine correct/"sound" teaching) become very important for this group.
  2. Goodness- for this group its about moral goodness.  Moral direction is most important and social justice becomes a significant part of their expression of their faith.
  3. Beauty- for this group its about being engaged by something beautiful.  Aesthetics, story, etc., these are the things that they find most attractive about their faith.

What's important to realize is that these are not exclusive categories- just because someone thinks something is true doesn't mean they don't find it beautiful, or the other way around.  More thoughts on this later when I don't have a million and one things to do before the end of the semester, but wanted to post this short little thought now, particularly to stir people thinking about which of these ways they might find faith engaging.

What do you think?  There is a poll on the right side of the page, cast a vote there for the way you engage most with your faith.


  1. Book recommendation (for summer, when reading for pure pleasure resumes): "On Beauty and Being Just" by Elaine Scarry. Elegant prose from Harvard philosopher that discusses how Beauty continually renews our search for truth. Thanks again for posting!

  2. Thanks for the recommendation, Tuesday! Will check it out when I have a life again after this semester...


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