Nestled within a stinging critique of Hollywood culture, Carl Trueman makes a crucial distinction for our discussion of beauty.
In Luther’s abolition of the boundary between the sacred and the secular, we have the conceptual framework for seeing the beautiful in the ordinary. This concept is decried by some Catholic philosophers of secularization as part of the problem—but I disagree. It means that a simple friendship can be beautiful, a mundane household chore can be beautiful, a pleasant meal with friends can be beautiful. And in Luther’s emphasis on a Pauline understanding of the cross in 1 Corinthians as a contradiction of worldly aesthetics, we have the theological basis for seeing beauty in and through that which the world decries as weak and distasteful.
If we hold that beauty is that only which pleases the immediate senses, we are scarcely better than peafowl, where the females choose their mates by the size of their plumage.