Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Beauty’ Category

fall

I am prejudiced when it comes to the four seasons — fall is my favorite.

Fall is nature at its aesthetic best, giving us a heraldic panoply of colors and scents.

But fall is traditionally a time to reflect on the reality of death, as well as being a time of beauty.

Forgive me, but I don’t think that’s an accident. (more…)

Read Full Post »

van_Gogh_-_The_Church

I wanted to share a short video (about two-and-a-half minutes) featuring a young man from my neck of the woods.  His name is Hank Stratton — and though only in high school, he is already a quite brilliant artist.

Note: I share this partly in honor of Red Ribbon Week.  When I was working in substance abuse prevention, my colleagues and I were very passionate about promoting protective factors — that is to say, healthy activities that help young people to focus their talents, energies, and passions constructively — within the community.  Here is just one example of the kind of human potential that makes the pleasures of drugs and alcohol superfluous.

Here is the link to the video (I’ve arranged it to begin at the relevant section): WBTA News Interviews Hank Stratton.

*********************************************************************************************************************

Acknowledgements

  1. “Vincent van Gogh – The Church in Auvers-sur-Oise, View from the Chevet – Google Art Project” by Vincent van Gogh – 6wEjLceQPXkTtA at Google Cultural Institute, zoom level maximum. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vincent_van_Gogh_-_The_Church_in_Auvers-sur-Oise,_View_from_the_Chevet_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg#/media/File:Vincent_van_Gogh_-_The_Church_in_Auvers-sur-Oise,_View_from_the_Chevet_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

Read Full Post »

Letchworth_WaterfallWell, the medievals used to say that God wrote two books: The Book of Scripture (a.k.a. the Bible), and the Book of Nature.  One finds His explicit self-revelation in the former, but hints of both God and His plan are discernible in the latter as well.

Of course, reflective soul that I am, I could not help but think of this during my outing to Letchworth State Park with my family over the weekend.  (By the way: If you’re ever in New York State, do yourself a favor and go there.  It has some gorgeous waterfalls, beautiful foliage, nice walking trails, buildings of historical significance, and a gorge that has earned the nickname “Grand Canyon of the East.”)

Last year I spent a weekend on retreat at a monastery in the country, and I remember looking out one morning at a fine mist hanging over a pond outside.  This got me thinking of that famous passage from St. Luke’s Gospel in which the angel Gabriel announces the birth of Christ to the Blesséd Virgin Mary:

The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.

(Luke 1:35)

The hovering mist reminds one of the Holy Spirit — ethereal, invisible, otherworldly, and coming from above — and the body of water, an image of feminine receptivity and fecundity, of the Virgin Mary.

Letchworth_Waterfall 1If a pond can remind one of Mary, how much more a great waterfall, with its majestic beauty and humble greatness?

Letchworth_Waterfall 2Now back to the mist.  Here, as you can see, it ascends from the water, as opposed to hovering over it.  Yet here also can we find an analogy pointing to the divine partnership with Mother Mary.  Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, issued forth from the womb of Mary in His Incarnation, as the God-Man, “as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma” (Ephesians 5:2, italics mine).

As I’ve said before: Who ever said nature isn’t “evangelical”?

Thanks for reading.  Here are some more pics, if you’re interested:

Rainbow over the waterfall

Letchworth_Rainbow

A “trickle”

Letchworth_Trickle

A couple pictures taken around the gorge

Letchworth_Gorge

Letchworth_Gorge2Stone picnic table where we ate lunch 🙂

Letchworth_Stone Table

Read Full Post »

Nothing against the traditional (and joyful) “Happy Birthday” tune, of course.  But on this Feast of the Birth of the Virgin Mary, it seems something a bit stronger, and with more of a sublime beauty, is in order.

Check out this short bit (under 5 minutes) featuring a traditional Latin hymn (as performed by the Daughters of Mary):

Happy Birthday, Mother Mary!

Read Full Post »

I am saddened at the death of James Horner, one of my favorite film composers and undoubtedly one of the best.  Upon hearing the news, I promptly went to Youtube in hopes of finding a fitting tribute to his life’s work (or, more appropriately, his life’s passion).

A difference may be made in people’s lives in many different ways.  Let us not forget or belittle the contribution of those who, through dedication to aesthetic excellence, give voice to the echoes of the soul.

May James Horner rest in peace.  I pray that he has found the One from whose Voice the aforementioned echoes come.

Fair warning: There is one line spoken in this tribute, and there is one profanity in it.

Read Full Post »

NOTE: As in previous posts, I have embedded the entire video for aesthetic purposes only.  Feel free to watch that if you wish (the first 10 minutes consist of a preview of the “Catholicism” series as a whole), but for the beginning of this particular episode — titled “The Church: Christ’s Mystical Body” — click here.

Please enjoy the video, whether you are a Catholic seeking to delve deeper into the Faith or a non-Catholic person who is interested in learning more about the Catholic Church, even if only from a cultural or sociological perspective.

(Before you watch, I just need to make a quick note about the Crusades and the Inquisition: These were more complicated affairs than what has been presented to us over the centuries, and I think Fr. Barron was probably just unaware of some of the relevant research when filming this episode.

I am not saying this as a defensive Catholic trying to construe Catholic history as spotless and pristine.  Believe me, it is a fact that Catholics at all levels of Church life and hierarchy have done strange, terrible, and unconscionable things over the past two millennia.  But I would be remiss if I did not offer clarification in those particular areas where clarification is necessary.  But that’s all a matter for another post.)

Read Full Post »

Among the many instances in which we find, in popular media, a beautiful female either falling in love with or giving her affection to a comparatively unattractive and/or awkward male are the following:

Theory of EverythingWe have the graceful and lovely Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones) and the nerdy, awkward Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) in the 2014 film “The Theory of Everything.”

Bill HaverchuckVicki ApplebyGoing back about 15-16 years to the short-lived but subsequently quite popular television series “Freaks and Geeks,” we find cute cheerleader Vicki Appleby (JoAnne Garcia Swisher) in the closet with lanky geek Bill Haverchuck (Martin Starr) after a game of spin-the-bottle.  At first she is perfectly beastly toward him, but she gradually warms up to him and, before their time is up, gives him a kiss.

Beauty and the BeastAnd then of course there is the archetypal “Beauty and the Beast.”  Need I say more?

We tend to see and hear about situations like these, in which a man not blessed with physical attractiveness or grace is nonetheless blessed with the affection of a beautiful woman, and think to ourselves: “Wow — good for him.”

But let’s reverse the situation a minute.  Imagine a strapping, musclebound, suave, and extremely handsome young man lovingly courting a woman who is grossly overweight, wears glasses, has a retainer, and has nothing of what anyone would consider conventional attractiveness. We see something like that and we think: “Wow — good for him.”

See where I’m going with this?  When a woman looks beyond mere appearances and finds the goodness inside, we think very little in her favor.  We expect it of her.  But when a man does so, we seem to think he is “going the extra mile,” and to be heartily congratulated for it.

Albrecht_Dürer_-_Adam_and_Eve_(Prado)_2“Albrecht Dürer – Adam and Eve (Prado) 2” by Albrecht Dürer – The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Albrecht_D%C3%BCrer_-_Adam_and_Eve_(Prado)_2.jpg#/media/File:Albrecht_D%C3%BCrer_-_Adam_and_Eve_(Prado)_2.jpg

Granted, part of this may be due to a certain intuition about the nature of man and woman.  We read in Genesis 2 that Adam was created before Eve, surveyed all of creation in its manifold richness (rocks, trees, sea, animals, etc.), and could not find a companion suitable for himself; God then makes Eve, the first woman.

Don’t panic. Whether or not this is literally how events transpired is irrelevant.  What the Sacred Text gives us is a psychology of man and woman.  Through the person of Adam, we see that man’s initial purview includes merely things.  Granted, some of these are living things; but even these are not en-souled persons like himself.  The arrival of the woman completes his purview.

On the other hand, through Eve we see that woman’s purview from the very beginning includes persons.  This is perhaps fitting, since she is meant to bear life within herself for nine months.  It may be, therefore, that a certain nurturing spirit, awareness of beauty within, and gift of oneself in kindness comes more naturally to women than to men.

So it is quite possible that a similar insight explains why media portrayals of beautiful-woman-falls-for-not-so-beautiful-man are more frequent than the opposite.  Still, while it is true that our intuitions influence art and media, the reverse is also true.

Let me be clear: Recognizing that beauty is not only skin deep is good. To recognize a woman’s ability to see this is likewise good. But as a man, I am concerned that we do not hold ourselves to the same standard.  Discernment in romantic matters is no easy thing, and no one of either sex should have to bear this burden alone.

Image of Adam and Eve from Wikipedia; remaining images obtained through a Google image search

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »