If beauty be not truth, perhaps it’s closer to faith

Phyllis Tickle‘s final installment in her “First Sundays” blog at Explorefaith is about the interrelatedness of beauty, hope, and faith.

It begins in praise of poetry – specifically, The Norton Anthology of Poetry.

Now I don’t know as I really think every Christian … or every non-Christian, for that matter …should read The Norton Anthology. In fact, I don’t think anybody should ever read a collection of poetry in the first place. Rather, poetry is to be known … to be lived into, time and time again … to be heard inside one’s head as the words become more and more a part of breathing and less and less a function of thinking….

… I discovered once again the thing I keep forgetting and then, mercifully, keep managing to stumble up against time and time again. That is, I stumbled into realizing all over again just how central beauty is to hope and, thereby, to faith. It may not be, as Keats said, that “beauty is truth, truth beauty.” In fact, I rather doubt that it is. But it is true that without beauty, a people perish, whether that people be a polity or a communion of faith or a family of kin. It is only when we gift ourselves and one another with beauty that we escape, however briefly, into what we can be and are becoming…

….which seems to me to be an entirely fitting observation for this first Sunday in the month that, of all of them, most celebrates beauty between us and amongst us.

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