One of the last short stories C. S. Lewis wrote was a revision of one of his first stories. It was a short story he called, “Light.” In the story a man named Robin, who was born blind, has recently had his sight restored through surgery. Robin finds himself quite disappointed with his restored sight, because he really wants to see that thing called “light” that he has heard so much about, and yet, while his wife and others insist that light is all around him, he can’t see light. Weeks of being able to see but not being able to see light leads Robin to despair and ultimately death.
Lewis’s story is ultimately about the nature of human knowing, but it also illustrates well, I think, how we often approach the subject of beauty.
There has been within evangelicalism, I think, an increase in discussions of beauty. But beauty is something we look at; it is a subject we talk about; it is something we need to learn to appreciate and enjoy.
However, as with light in Lewis’s story, we need to think more robustly about beauty as not something to think about, to look at, and to simply recognize or even delight in, but rather as what we come to know God’s world through.
As such, beauty is not simply a subject alongside various other doctrines; neither is it something with which we simply supplement our discipleship or worship; it’s not just something we play in the background as we worship or that we tack on a wall in our sanctuaries; it is rather a critical lens through which Christians come to know God’s truth.
Or, to put it another way, beauty is not simply a category that stands alongside truth and goodness; rather, beauty is the means through which we come to really know what is true and good.