Beauty stirs Love and Then. . . (With a Sidelight on the Symposium and Diotima)

Beauty stirs Love and Then. . . (With a Sidelight on the Symposium and Diotima) October 13, 2020

Beauty is all around us. Having said that truth, what next?

The cosmos is beautiful, and this beauty is for the cosmos and God. We are allowed to marvel at the glory, but the beauty does not belong to us. JRR Tolkien understood that the trees belonged to the trees, the beauty of the trees was their own beauty, and we could not cavalierly destroy such wonder for our own purposes. As intelligent beings, created in the image of God, we could steward the beauty, but with great care.  Natural beauty should be preserved or enhanced, never merely destroyed! 

The beauty of nature, in each living animal and all humans, should motive us to conserve and create. We see the stars and sing. We stand under a tree on a hot Houston day, hearing the cicadas, and create a small seating area so that many can enjoy the shade.

Plato describes a party where the guests praise the great god Eros. Young and old men, a medical doctor, a tragedian, a comedic playwright, and Socrates all speak of Eros, what Eros is, and the purpose of love in the life of the city and human beings.

The last major speaker, Alcibiades, may be lost to reason, though he is the young man in the city with the greatest potential. He cannot properly respond to beauty due to his bad education. When he sees beauty, he thinks that there must be a transaction. He must buy or sell that beauty. Alcibiades believes himself able to play this market, because he is physically and mentally so obviously beautiful.

We must look to God, the source of all beauty, respecting each beautiful being or object we have seen in His creation. Whenever we must destroy natural beauty, our cause must be great and what comes next should (usually) be equally enchanting. There is beauty to a well-built factory or industrial area or there can be. Over the years my home state of West Virginia forced companies doing business in the state to renew and replace the beauty that they temporarily had to deface for the greater good. When this has worked (and it has not always), the aggregate beauty of an area increases over time. The beautiful state capitol building is a prime example of architecture that is enhanced by the setting of the West Virginia hills and the Kanawha River.

The Alcibiades personality, ruined by bad education, can only think of “winning.” Every action is a transaction and nothing is temporary. He has a side, Team Alcibiades, and if you do not give him what he wants, as he wishes it, then he is dangerous. This is the marred soul that sees beauty and thinks that beauty is to be taken, used, or (even) worshipped. The errors of taking and using are obvious, but equally pernicious is seeing beauty and doing nothing but marveling. Beauty leads to love and love serves creation.

There are dilettantes that listen to beautiful music and bask in the tones without allowing the beauty to lead them forward. The glories of Handel’s Messiah should lead to active worship or some other action. When one hears beauty, feels love, then true love will wish to immortalize that beauty. This is done in marriage through children and in the realm of ideas through further acts of creation.

One mentor put this bluntly: “Inspiration should lead to perspiration.”

Love ends in creation.

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