Thursday, March 17, 2011
Beauty by Design
But this retreat was, in part, about what we can control. We can control the work of our hands. We began by considering the theology of beauty. This was very exciting for me. What does God love? This was a Christian-based retreat, which I appreciated because, frankly, it seems to me that the Christian faith is rather weak in its concern for the earth. So, it was good to hear an argument for Christian concern for our planet (the Psalms are filled with beautiful praise of the earth and universe). But you could also ask, what does nature love? We considered that God/nature loves: order, interdependence, harmony, unity and diversity. We are naturally attracted to the beauty of truth and goodness; and here it was pointed out that theologians and scientists are equally concerned with this beauty of truth.This certainly rang true for me, as I have often heard my mathematician husband speak of elegant proofs. Further, justice is beauty. Well, that struck me. On January 8th, when I wrote my "Seeing Beauty" blog, I was struggling to put words to how appreciating beauty prevented injustice; but here it was stated clearly: beauty is justice. So we discussed these elements of beauty and how they were "made flesh" through structure, design, form, movement, music, poetry and matter.
In the afternoon, we considered how we can apply principles of beauty to what we make as human beings. Here are some of the design principles we talked about:
Design should reflect and incorporate:
* love of diversity
* interdependence and interconnectedness
* love and respect for all members of the community
* co-operation with the natural order
* no waste
We can apply these elements to everything we create so that we can proclaim a gospel with the work of our hands that is in alignment with the world in which we live. This can make a difference in how we live in the world. It was pointed out that we alter the world just by living in it; and perfection is not possible. Some things we can not affect, like the movement of tectonic plates. But humbly doing the work of compassionate human beings is sufficient.