“High on Federalism” – by William J. Watkins, Jr.

As the new year rolled in, lines formed at Colorado pot shops. Some customers seeking to secure their first legal purchase of Mary Jane had to wait several hours. Once they made it into the shops they were struck by sticker shock: Top-shelf marijuana (not Mexican ragweed) was going for $400 per ounce. Of course, the pot dispensaries were not the only ones doing a booming business. Colorado Green Tours, an outfit that buses visitors to the various dispensaries, described itself as being deluged by “a tidal wave of business.”

Even the federal government has stepped aside and allowed the pot sales. Under the Controlled Substances Act, the sales in Colorado violate federal law. However, Attorney General Eric Holder has given word to states legalizing recreational marijuana that federal law enforcement will look the other way, so long as the states carefully regulate the production, processing, and sale of weed.

In some ways, the legalization efforts in Colorado and Washington (which is running behind on crafting and implementing its regulations) are substantial victories for federalism. These states actually succeeded in persuading the federal government to back off the enforcement of a national regulatory regime that has been upheld in the Supreme Court as recently as 2005.

There is recognition that divergent local cultures and circumstances should guide lawmaking. For example, while the state of South Carolina is nowhere near following in the footsteps of Colorado and Washington; it is at liberty to adopt laws that best reflect the temperament and situation of its population. A one-size-fits-all remedy, which has been the theme of 20th- and 21st-century legislation, is eschewed. Colorado and Washington also further goals of experimentation and competition in policymaking. Based on what happens in these two laboratories of democracy, other states can better determine what course they should chart. They can observe the effects on tax revenue, crime, and addiction before deciding whether to abandon or loosen marijuana-prohibition policies.

Nonetheless, it says much about American society that victory in the realm of truly federal—not national—principles came about because a remarkable number of people want to get high. They want a euphoria delivered by THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. The people rose up against national authority not because of domestic spying by the National Security Agency, the targeting of Tea Party organizations by the Internal Revenue Service, or efforts to nationalize healthcare.

No, they simply want to smoke dope.

Americans are so dope crazed that one cannot put a letter in the mailbox and flip the flag up without a justified fear of drug addicts cruising through the neighborhood and stealing mail in the hopes they will find something to aid them in counterfeiting checks, negotiating fraudulent or altered checks, and then using the proceeds to buy more mind-altering substances.

Aristotle understood that living well in the polis consisted in endeavors that actualize the virtues of the rational part of the soul. Centuries later, Edmund Burke observed that liberty in a civilized society often depends on the people’s ability and willingness to place chains on their own appetites. These focuses on virtue and self-restraint are alien to our postmodern society. Individual determination of what it means to live well and the unloosening of any restraint on the appetite are the hallmarks of America in 2014.

Under a just reading of the Constitution, it is undoubtedly within the purview of the people of the states to decide whether they will prohibit, allow, or regulate marijuana and similar substances. But with so many other “national issues” calling for state and local experimentation, it is telling that first successful 21st-century effort to reduce federal authority has come in the area of recreational drug use and the people’s demand for easy access to THC.

Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture (February 2014)

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

“Returning to Reality” – by Scott P. Richert

And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost…

Piers Moran & Penn Jillette

On February 28, as Pope Benedict XVI was leaving office, the magician Penn Jillette was interviewed on CNN by Piers Morgan, a nominal Catholic. Morgan, a critic of Benedict, thought he would have a sympathetic ear in Jillette, an outspoken atheist, but the interview quickly took an amusing turn as Jillette began lecturing Morgan on the teachings of the Catholic Church, which Jillette got (mostly) right. Morgan pushed back, but in the process only revealed his own ignorance of why the Church teaches what She teaches. Jillette made short work of him, as would anyone even modestly versed in Catholic theology.

Catholic commentators, especially those who are politically conservative and thus despised Piers Morgan for other reasons, enjoyed a bit of Schadenfreude at Morgan’s expense. One obvious lesson—which many of the commentators drew—is that Catholics of Morgan’s generation (he is 48) were poorly catechized. If an atheist can beat a reasonably intelligent Catholic not just in technique but in the substance of a debate over Catholic theology, something is wrong.

There were less obvious lessons to be learned. The first is that American Catholics are just as enamored of celebrities as Americans of other stripes are. Not a few of the Catholic commentariat jumped to the conclusion that Jillette was ripe for conversion. (Many of the same commentators had declared Christopher Hitchens another Augustine or Saint Paul in the making, and had not only hoped for—a good thing—but expected his deathbed conversion, no matter how often Hitchens assured them it would never come.) Just as Kourtney Kardashian was lauded as a pro-life hero back in 2009 when she revealed in an interview that she could not bring herself to abort her unborn child, conceived out of wedlock, so Jillette became, for a moment, the potential new face of the Catholic Church in America. And as prolifers had made excuses for Kardashian, when in that same interview she had made it clear that she thought it perfectly fine for other mothers to kill their unborn children even if she could not personally do so, Jillette’s admirers tried to explain away the actions of this militant atheist who has used his stage act and his television show, Bullsh-t!, to launch a series of nasty attacks on the Catholic Church, the Eucharist, and the priesthood.

Which brings us to a second, less obvious lesson: The Devil knows not only Latin but Christian theology. And he can use that knowledge in more than one way: to try to undermine the faith of those who are weak, by instilling doubts in their minds; but also to mislead others through a form of spiritual pride, by convincing them that saying the right thing is necessarily the same thing as believing the right thing. If the Devil can convince people that the Faith is simply a checklist of propositions to which we must give assent rather than a lived relationship with the Risen Christ from which those doctrines flow, his work is mostly done.

Faith is, among other things, the perfection of reason, but that does not mean that reason alone can lead us to faith. Penn Jillette may know all the right things to say, but Morgan, despite his dissent from Church teaching, has the benefit of baptism and membership in the Church, while Jillette not only rejects both for himself but has made it perfectly clear that he despises those who choose them for themselves (and even more so for their children). Jillette was not, as so many seemed to assume, urging Morgan on to deepen his faith (or even simply “keeping him honest”); he was ridiculing him for being less knowledgeable than a man who rejects Jesus Christ, and all His works, and all of His salvific promises.

Put this way, this all seems rather obvious; so why did so many miss what Jillette was up to? Part of the problem is that, in the United States, Christianity has all too often become a surface phenomenon. Doctrine has become a substitute for the substance of the Faith, rather than a catechetical tool that is meant to help us understand what we, as Christians, experience. To put it in stark terms: Which came first, the Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection of Christ, or the dogmatic councils? As Chronicles’ longtime religion editor Harold O.J. Brown explained in his greatest work, Heresies: The Image of Christ in the Mirror of Heresy and Orthodoxy From the Apostles to the Present, Christian doctrine developed from the lived experience of the Church, the Body of Christ, not the other way around. A credo is a distillation of what Christians believe because they know it to be true, rather than a list of propositions to which they give assent, and thus come to believe. The convert recites the Creed at his baptism not as a test of his orthodoxy but to affirm what he already knows, through his experience, to be true.

Many factors have contributed to the distortion of Christian doctrine from a distillation of the Christian experience into an abstraction, even an ideology. In the United States in the 20th century, a certain neo-Thomism played an important role, beginning in the Catholic Church but with its effects spilling out into other Christian denominations. Thomistic theology is not the problem; the problem, as Owen Barfield demonstrated in Saving the Appearances, comes when that theology is treated as an end in itself, and the experience that underlies it and which it encapsulates becomes attenuated or even lost. Recover that experience, and Christian doctrine takes on a new life that can deepen our faith; the works of Thomas become as fresh as if they were written yesterday. But without that experience, we become caricatures of Penn Jillette—functional atheists who, unlike Jillette, are convinced that we have the fullness of the Faith.

The problem, though, runs much deeper than modern neo-Thomism. It extends back to the beginning of the modern age and the rise of the modern state, as the realm of politics, previously limited, began to encroach upon more and more areas of everyday life. And it has reached its apotheosis in 21st-century America, where even so-called conservatives no longer believe that there are no political solutions to cultural problems, but that all cultural problems are at base political and can only be solved through elections and legislation and court decisions.

In a society with a strong common culture, the encroachment of politics into more and more areas of human life may not initially seem to pose a problem. Indeed, to the extent that legislation, for instance, is seen as supporting what is good in human life against external threats to the common culture, such encroachment may even be welcomed. But as the common culture breaks down, the increased power of the state over culture becomes a battering ram that accelerates that destruction.

So, for instance, state laws against abortion before 1973 largely represented the common moral sense of the people. But Roe v. Wade, while imposed from the top down, did not come out of nowhere. The moral consensus on abortion had been eroding for decades, and it reflected a more advanced erosion within the Christian churches on contraception, which itself reflected a loss within those churches not simply of the Christian understanding of the sacredness of life but, more importantly, of the experience that gave life to that understanding.

Jump forward to today, and for any person under the age of 40 in the United States, abortion has always been a part of the fabric of his or her life, and the battle over abortion, while framed in moral terms, has always been a political one. Those who believe that abortion is wrong wish to see Roe v. Wade overturned and new laws passed banning abortion; those who think otherwise work hard to maintain a pro-Roe majority on the Supreme Court.

The latter are wining, and will keep winning, until the former recognize that the only way to win the battle is, to reassert the primacy of culture over politics. To put it in explicitly Christian terms, in order to save the lives of unborn children, Christians must first set about saving the souls of their fathers and mothers. And that means not simply preaching to those mothers and fathers about the Christian moral tradition concerning the sacredness of human life but leading them to the salvific relationship with Christ that underlies and gives life to that tradition. Disconnected from that experience, especially in a society in which politics claims for itself the ultimate moral authority, the Christian moral tradition becomes ossified, at best, and at worst takes on the character of an ideology, both adversary to, and counterpart of, the ideology of individualistic liberalism.

The problem, as I have made clear, is nothing new, finding its roots in the rise of the modern world five centuries ago; and it was accurately diagnosed almost half a century ago by Josef Pieper, who also pointed toward its only possible solution in his short but indispensable work Tradition: Concept and Claim (translated from the German in 2008 by E. Christian Kopff and published that same year by ISI Books). Tradition, in both the secular usage and the capital-T of Christian Sacred Tradition, is not merely a collection of things worth preserving, as both political and religious “conservatives” today treat it, but the means by which the most important of all experiences is handed down. As Pieper writes,

There is really nothing praiseworthy in the mere fact that something which has been thought, said, or done “since forever” will continue to be thought, said, and done. The praise due the act of tradition only makes sense when what is preserved and will continue to be preserved through the generations is what is truly worth preserving. That is the point of young people’s doubting question. Why is it, they ask, that a duty has been violated, if we simply let what has been handed down rest on its laurels, so that we can say, think, and do something totally different? We can only hope that someone hears this radical question and gives an existentially believable and equally radical answer, “the” answer that goes to the heart of things: that among the many things that are more or less worth preserving and may have been accumulated as “tradition,” there is in the last analysis only one traditional good that it is absolutely necessary to preserve unchanged, namely the gift that is received and handed on in the sacred tradition. I say “necessary” because this tradition comes from a diving source; because each generation needs it for a truly human existence; because no people and no brilliant individual can replace it on their own or even add anything valid to it.

It should be obvious that Pieper is speaking here not of external forms but of that which gave them life, and which may require those external forms to change over time so that what is truly worth preserving may continue to be passed on. This is the problem faced by modern conservatives, who primarily seek to defend what they respected and loved when they were young, rather than what is necessarily worth preserving. Pieper contrasts “Tradition (singular)” with these “traditions,” which may start out supporting a healthy culture but ultimately have the potential to do more harm than good:

Genuine consciousness of tradition makes one positively free and independent in the face of conservatisms, which worry obsessively about the cultivation of the “traditions.” Certainly, a “cultivation of tradition” that attaches itself to a historically accidental external image of what has been handed down becomes a positive hindrance to a real transmission of what is truly worth conserving, which perhaps can occur only under changed historical forms. It is possible to imagine a real transmission of what is in the last analysis worth handing down, which a dogmatic conservatism could not even recognize.

This is the problem faced also by the Church, and here I speak broadly, and not just of the Catholic Church of which I am a member. Even under the best of circumstances, in a health culture in which the structures of society and of politics are not antagonistic toward the Christian Faith, the Church must be a countercultural institution. That is the only way in which She can be certain to be able to hand down the ultimate Truth of the Faith, and not let it become obscured or deformed by an “historically accidental external image” that may have arisen from that Truth but has since become abstracted from it.

We are always in danger of turning the traditions of Christianity—the rituals and doctrines, the moral teachings and institutions—into ends in themselves, rather than means to the true end, “the gift that is received and handed on.” Or rather, we should use the Gift (singular), Who gave Himself to save our souls, and Who continues, in every age until the end of time, to give man what he needs “for a truly human existence.”

American conservatives of a certain generation summed up the insight of a different German philosopher in the catchphrase “Don’t immanentize the eschaton!” And yet, while warning against the dangers of trying to bring about heaven on earth, they themselves, through their obsession with elections and legislation, did much to subjugate culture to politics and to make Christian moral teaching a means to a political end, rather than a means of transmitting the Truth of the Faith. The fruit of their efforts can be seen today in the lost battles of the Culture War, and in entire generations that have sought salvation not in the sacraments of Christian churches but in the squabbles of “the public square.”

All is not lost, however, so long as “the gift that is received and handed on” continues to be received and handed on. But the locus of hat transmission—that “Tradition (singular)”—has never been the polling place, but the Church, which guards that gift.

When we get that straight—when we recognize once again that the duty we owe to God is to pass on the Good News to our fellow man—only then shall we begin the process of returning to reality, revitalizing our culture, and putting politics back in its proper, limited space.

Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture (December 2013)
Scott P. Richert is the executive editor of Chronicles.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

“Finding Beauty” – by Jeff Minick

Beauty is the battlefield where God and the devil war for the soul of man. — Fyodor Dostoyevsky

In the last five years, a heightened awareness of beauty and the mystery of beauty has played with my senses more than at any other time in my life, excluding, perhaps, my childhood, when the world so often resonated with the magical and the beautiful. Why these seeds of appreciation have taken root and sprouted is unclear to me, though I suspect that growing old has something to do with it. The sensation of winding down like an old-fashioned clock, of realizing, to paraphrase Housman, that sixty of my three-score and ten will not come again, surely accounts for some of my newfound sense of awe and exaltation.

A self-imposed seclusion has also watered these seeds. Since the death of my wife eight years ago, I have spent more and more of my time alone. Outside of my teaching duties, the bulk of my waking hours pass in silence and solitude, conditions which give rise to long thoughts and a keener apprehension of the sublime. Like a prisoner feeding crumbs to a sparrow on the sill of his barred window, I have developed, slowly, painfully at times, a capacity for gratitude and wonder.

My reading has reflected my curiosity about beauty and aesthetics. One of the most influential books I have encountered in the last five years is Gregory Wolfe’s Beauty Will Save the World, a title taken from a novel by Dostoyevsky. When this book first came to hand, that title baffled me: How on earth could beauty save anything? Even now, after close study, the idea remains murky for me. Yet the more I read of this book and others like it, the more I have pondered the meaning and place of beauty in our daily affairs. Whether beauty will save the world remains to be seen, yet I have come to understand that beauty can save me. Beauty can move the mind toward truth, the heart toward love, the soul toward compassion.

Let me explain.

I am not an aesthetician. I enjoy art—paintings, sculpture, music—but am strictly an amateur critic, an ignorant ham-and-egger. Literature is more my domain, and here I could tell you why Hemingway speaks more to the human spirit than Stephen King and why the novels of Sigrid Undset give us more of that spirit than Hemingway. Without any intention of braggadocio, I can say that I have read more in the last 50 years than all but a tiny percentage of my contemporaries. (The thousand books I know and love, and the many thousands more I have read, are often as much a curse as a blessing. No, that is unfair—the curse is my habit of reading. The books themselves are innocent as babes at baptism.)

Even so, I have no intention here of entering into the tangled world of art criticism and aesthetics. I am, as I say, too ignorant to do so. Why the colors of a particular painting, the depth of a woman’s eyes, or the slant of light through the clouds this afternoon should strike me as beautiful would require another lifetime of exploration. Instead, I wish only to share some moments and places of beauty that have penetrated a once-heedless heart.

I have limited myself to ten such encounters, all of them recent. The number ten seems beautiful in and of itself. We count by tens and work on a decimal system. Nurses ask patients to rate their pain on a scale of one to ten; lovers use the same scale to rate the attractiveness of their beloved. This integer resonates theologically: There are Ten Commandments and ten days between Ascension and Pentecost. Again often yards in football brings a first down; ten players—don’t forget the batter—are necessary to fill a baseball diamond; a bowler tries to knock down ten pins. Human beings have ten fingers and ten toes. Ten, then, seems a fine number.

My list of recent encounters with beauty begins with the natural world. Though I live in a city surrounded by mountains that attract thousands of visitors every year, I generally commune with nature from the front porch of my apartment building, located within an eight-minute walk of downtown Asheville. Right now I have just returned to this keyboard from that porch, where I listened to the late-September crickets and the dripping of rain from the maples along Chestnut Street and from the waxy leaves of the magnolia tree in the side yard. These soft sounds, the moist air on my face and bare arms, and the secret pleasure I feel being awake and alone on the street where I live filled me this evening with joy and wonder. This porch is one place where I frequently find beauty.

My home is a three-story brick apartment building fronted by four large white columns and six porches. It was built 80 years ago, back before our modern architects gave human beings glass-and-concrete boxes for banks, offices, and dwelling places. On either side of the building are large yards filled with shrubs, flowers, walkways, and benches. The woman who manages this property, Anne, spends hours every week trimming rose bushes and vines, battling poison ivy, pulling weeds, and clipping hedges. She has mixed so much of her labor and love into the gifts of nature that tourists often pause in front of the house to take pictures. Several weeks ago, touched by those gloomy thoughts of the past which sometimes haunt us in our solitude, I stepped onto my porch at dawn and watched for a few minutes while the rising sun illuminated the trim bushes, tidy flower beds, and freshly mown lawns. Contemplating this ornamentation pushed aside my dark mood and regrets. Once again, beauty had left its mark.

Another building that can bring such wonder, if I remember to give the moment breath, is the Basilica of Saint Lawrence. Built a hundred years ago, this granite-and-brick church with its domed ceiling and statues, its stained glass windows and crucifixion tableau above the altar, has the power over me of a hypnotist. Recently, I have begun attending daily Mass at the basilica before going off to teach. Only a handful of worshipers frequent this early morning Mass, and here in the shadows and the silence may be found hints of that “peace that passeth all understanding?” The very air of the church, laden with the perfume of candle wax and incense, exudes beauty and holiness.

Perhaps more than any other art, music—great music—holds the soul of the world, communicating with its listeners in a universal language. The other evening, while grading some student essays, I tried listening to Jimmy Cliff’s reggae music. Usually his music appeals, but on this particular evening it interfered with my work. The cool-jazz voice of Norah Jones also failed to do the trick. I then threw some Bach onto the machine, one of those collections that the connoisseur would scorn as common. Gradually, the music reached into me, subtly penetrating my thoughts. As the music took hold, I put down my pen, listened, and felt myself lifted emotionally away from my desk and papers. (This experience is not new to me: when I make spaghetti and sauce, I entertain myself with another one of those ubiquitous collections—Italian opera sung by the Three Tenors. Their voices enter the sauce and improve the taste.)

To me, however, words speak even more powerfully than music, and with a beauty as sublime. Often, I wish I’d kept a notebook in which I copied down the words and sentences that have struck a nerve. These would range from single lines—in Gladiator the final words of Maximus to his men before charging into battle, “Soldiers, what we do in life echoes in eternity!” contain an entire philosophy—to the rich passages of poetry and prose from a hundred writers. Family, friends, and students who wonder why there are so many books about my apartment now have their answer: These are repositories in  which I find truth, goodness, beauty.

So far, the things I have mentioned—nature, architecture, painting, music, literature—are the areas of human endeavor we traditionally associate with beauty. We go to nature and the objects created by artists from nature for that sense of sublimity beyond reason. Now, however, I will turn to human beings, and five recent encounters with them that, as my dictionary says in defining beauty exalted my mind and spirit.

Shortly after nine o’clock on a Saturday morning two weeks ago, my daughter, the mother of five, came down the stairs at her home, dressed to attend the wedding of a friend. Her hair fell loose and easy about her face. Besides being struck by its length—she typically wears her hair up—I was amazed as well by its loveliness, by the way it floated about her cheeks and throat. Suddenly I realized how lovely she was, this daughter of mine, this wife, this mother. She glowed so with life and health that my breath caught in my throat, and then she had gathered her belongings and was out the door.

A second snapshot: This past week, my students in a middle-school class were writing about the clothing they had worn that day and why they had chosen this particular pair of jeans or this blue blouse. Often the intensity of my students’ faces as they read or write has struck me as beautiful, but on this day some of their faces were shining with such concentration that I felt swept up by their radiance and by what I can best describe as the holiness of their composure.

Because I spend a good deal of time alone, the sound of laughter—good, hearty laughter—also injects a sense of beauty into my blood and nerves. Sound in our neighborhood can carry quite a distance, curling about the cars and yards, and yesterday evening through the open door to my porch I could hear laughter coming from a party up the street. Here from these strangers was real laughter, full, rich, beautiful.

One spoken word can cut the air with a beauty that like a knife goes straight to the heart. When I recently visited my grandchildren in Virginia, I could hear them crying “Grandpa! Grandpa!” before they had even raced from the house to greet me. Their voices bore more than just anticipation, more than excitement They were filled with love. We can’t see a thing called love, just as we can’t see a thing called beauty, but love and beauty vibrated in the cries of those children, as real as a painting, as dramatic as an opera.

Finally, I attended on Saturday the baptism of another grandson, a boy not yet two. In his tiny jacket and rumpled shirt he brought to mind a stout little banker after a night of drinking. When the priest poured the water over his head, he wiggled so vigorously that water washed into his eyes. He cried, infuriated, and thrust out his lower lip. How familiar is this ritual, performed millions of times over the last 2,000 years! Yet here again were signs of beauty: the newly baptized, the removal of Original Sin, the presence of family and friends, of angels and saints, of grace.

During this baptism, the priest asked the witnesses to respond “I do” to a series of questions from the Ritual of Baptism. One of the questions in the ritual asks us whether we reject the “glamour of evil?” These three words capture the path taken by so many of our contemporary artists: musicians, painters, writers, filmmakers. Evil decks itself out in glamorous attire, and we are so drenched in this glamour that only the strongest can resist its allure. In the Foreword to The Beauty of Holiness and the Holiness of Beauty, John Saward writes of the “three great gateways to God, of goodness, truth, and beauty.” Over a century ago, our intelligentsia began sawing one leg—truth—off this stool, and now it has collapsed, giving us a century of bloodshed, lies, and ugliness.

Many in the world of art traffic in the glamour of evil. They muddle about in ugliness and depravity. They muck along in jaded lockstep, proffering dross rather than gold, concept rather than form, junk rather than treasure. Their crude work diminishes the soul, making savages and yahoos of their audience rather than revealing, through their craft and vision, the solace, comfort, and transcendence historically offered us by artists.

They will not endure.

Beauty will triumph. Beauty exists outside of them and beyond them, and cannot be denied.

Meanwhile, the rest of us can look to the great art from the past and to those more recent artists—writers, painters, musicians, filmmakers—who have offered insight into our humanity. Who can listen to Gorecki’s Third Symphony and not be moved by his portrait of war and tragedy? Who can read Helprin’s A Soldier of the Great War and not be touched by this novel’s ideas of love, loss, art, and God? Who can view the sculptures of Frederick Hart or the paintings of Fred Folsom, and not see visions that sweep viewers beyond themselves?

We can also discover, as I have so belatedly discovered, the beauty found in ordinary living. The greatest Teacher of all time reminded His disciples many times of the blessed state of those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. He was giving His followers a lesson in aesthetics as well as in theology, urging them to unlock their senses, to open the door to the goodness, beauty, and truth that is everywhere around them: the word ofma friend, the laughter of a child, the kiss of a lover, the verities that He was making known to them. A friend to whom I sent a link to Roger Scruton’s YouTube video “Why Beauty Matters” wrote back this note of her husband’s death:

Scruton says that beauty is a consolation in sorrow, and it’s true. I remember a day after Ben died when my heart was so freighted with grief that I didn’t want to draw another breath in the world. I turned and caught a glimpse of the evening sun with its radiant peaches and corals. I knew in that moment that beauty endured even in the face of terrible loss and that it would help to sustain my spirit.

Learning to appreciate beauty won’t pay the bills or put money in the bank. It won’t blunt the steel-point of death we all must someday face. But without beauty our lives are destitute, and we die long before we reach our graves if we shunt beauty aside or accept ugliness and lies in its stead. True beauty makes us more fully human. It can save us from the glamour of evil, from darkness, from despair. It can even save us from ourselves.

Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture (August 2013)
Jeff Minick writes from Asheville, North Carolina.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment