Is seeing beauty a matter of courage?

Yesterday I went to a presentation in which the speaker showed us this picture:

Gears
(Photo credit Malcolm Burrows)

Those are the gears that insure that the jumping legs of the Leafhopper extend at the exact same moment. Read more here: Here

Astounding! Marvelous!

This was just one of the examples of the speaker, a man named Bruce Malone, had supporting his thesis that the evolutionary views people are immersed in blind them to the simple obvious truth. In this case the obvious truth was that those gears did not slowly evolve.

During the break I walked outside of Greater Portland Bible Church where the talk was. It was a sunny day and the “trees were sweetly blooming”. I looked at the white blossoms, some windblown falling in the bright sunlight, and I thought. “There’s a part of me that holds back from looking at beauty because it reminds me of God the marvelous Creator and my responsibility to love Him, and the responsibility He gave me to love my neighbour. Just being aware of the colour of the grass makes me feel more sensitive to other people’s existence, which makes me feel the duties of compassion. I wonder if it’s because of this phenomena and trying to flee thinking of God and neighbour so, that wicked people in the last century surrounded themselves with modern architecture.”

18_koenigsberg_raetehaus_kern_l
House of the Soviets, Kaliningrad (Koenigsberg)

After the talk I took up the subject with my sister.

“Does looking at beauty arouse that awareness of duty in you?”

“It makes me sad sometimes – I think of death, as Keats said “beauty that must die”.

That sounds like a reason to be afeared of seeing beauty.When Keats said “Beauty that must die” he was ode-ing  Melancholy “She (Melancholy) dwells with Beauty—Beauty that must die”. Who wants his soul to experience pain and melancholy and “taste the sadness of her might, And be among her cloudy trophies hung”? Who has no fear of this?

“But don’t you see the problem with my thesis?” I asked, “It doesn’t seem that those who have sought to see the beauty in nature have been more virtuous. Who were the romantics?” She listed off a few men mad, bad, and dangerous to know. But she wasn’t, for all their faults, just ready to concede that their romanticism had no good effect. “Goethe and those men’s ideas had a huge effect on people in the 19th century. And we can’t just think that none of the morality of the time was helped by them.”

Now, I’m not dismissive of the 19th century’s morality. I don’t think it was a moral time, but I think it was mostly a more moral time. It was more morally sophisticated than many other centuries. The moral dilemmas of the characters in an Anthony Trollope novel, for example, would certainly be incomprehensible to the revenge-bots from the old Icelandic sagas, and I think most modern television characters would be baffled by an Anthony Trollope hero or heroine in their midst.

How much were  Shelley, Byron and the more steady Wordsworth used to bring about this greater depth of consideration of duty and right and wrong in the 19th c., I don’t know.

Lastly, just to clarify – that picture of gears delights me. So does the colour of the grass, and the windblown flower petals.

~ Watchful

 

 

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