Friday, December 2, 2016

Why Beauty Matters by Roger Scruton

This may be the first and last time that I review a YouTube video, but I couldn't let this one go by without comment.

Honest folks will admit that much that passes for modern art is an assault on the senses, but what has worried me more in recent years is the way that the world is teaching our children to embrace ugliness through their play. Many cartoon characters are distorted human figures. Hideous monster dolls are sold alongside the Barbie dolls. School backpacks are covered in skulls. The princess turns into an ogre in the Shrek films because that's more politically correct.

Where is the beauty? Who will show it to future generations?

Enter Roger Scruton, a British writer and philosopher who has been writing about this subject for forty years. His one hour lecture (6 ten-minute videos) on "Why Beauty Matters" touched on some of my questions and worries.

Although not a Christian, Scruton readily admits that beauty brings us into the presence of the sacred and that our need for beauty is something deep in our nature. He argues that proponents of modern art mock the pursuit of beauty because in a godless world there is no longer a valid definition for it. "Their willful desecration is a denial of love, an attempt to remake the world as though love were no longer a part of it." (He is not talking of sexual or romantic love, but of a purer, higher love. To those of us who are believers, this would be God.) "The chief characteristic of the post-modern world," he says, "is this lack of love. Artists are determined to portray the human world as unlovable."

He makes an articulate appeal for us to return to real art. "The sacred and the beautiful are not rivals. They stand side by side, two doors that open into a single space. And in that space we find our home."

If you have an hour, I highly recommend this lecture. Two related links are Budgeting for Beauty, (at Coffee, Tea, Books and Me) which has nothing to do with physical beauty, but instead recognizes that humans have needs beyond mere survival.  And Matt Capps at Gospel Coalition writes about how the Church has neglected this important topic.

Two books that helped me to think about this subject are: Art for God's Sake by Ryken, and Wisdom and Wonder by Kuyper. Do you have any other books to recommend on the subject?


Carol said...

Thanks for the youtube link. I'm bookmarking to watch later. I read a very interesting article by Solzhenitsyn, 'Beauty Will Save the World.'
I also found this article but haven't read it yet:

hopeinbrazil said...

Carol, Thank you for these links. I just got around to reading them!