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September 28, 2010

What is Beauty?

What is Beauty?

It is beginning to look a lot like fall. The white-trunked aspens are exiting their season of photosynthesizing and are slowly changing from deep forest-green to many different shades of oranges and yellow. God’s creation is indeed BEAUTIFUL! But what is beauty?


Beau·ty (’byo?tē): a combination of qualities such as shape, color, or form that please the aesthetic senses (New Oxford American Dictionary).


Could something that is pleasing to the senses be, in fact, evil and ugly? This is the question that haunts each of us as we seek to define a word that we have all so often used (and most often abused).  A few of our ideas were:


Beauty is seen in intricate design.

Beauty visually inspires joy.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Beauty is equivalent to attractiveness.


Objects can have an intricate design and inspire joy and still be evil and ugly. Things that are subjective have no characteristics. Humans are tainted, and what they are attracted to is not always beautiful. As we endeavor to define beauty, I keep catching myself saying, “Your hair is beautiful,” “That mountain view is beautiful,” or “That dress you wore today was beautiful.” How can I use a word that I cannot define?  The most valuable lesson that we have all learned since being here is one that Dr. Bauman drills into us every day: “Sloppy language makes sloppy thought possible.” We want to use the right word in the right place every time. If we are verbally precise, we will also be perceptually precise.


Our discussion of beauty came after a long morning of discussing Christianity and politics and the specific issue of abortion. We compiled a list of all the possible defenses for abortion on the whiteboard and proceeded to debate the ideas, erasing them as we gave proper evidence for their invalidity. What we discovered, once again, was our need to define the words we are using and use them in the proper place every time. We found the abortion debate comes down to defining the term human being.


After a hard day’s discussion on Saturday, Grace Church in Pagosa is more and more a welcoming a church family for all of us. The people there are so excited to have us join them even though they know that we will only be here for the next few months. They have been extremely welcoming and kind. This Sunday after the church service, there was a potluck dinner to say farewell to Pastor Jeff Daley and his family. They have been serving at Grace for the past seven years and will be moving to a new pastorate in Littleton, Colorado (a suburb of Denver). Previous Summit Semester students have had the privilege to learn from him, and even though we only got to hear three sermons from him, we were all blessed by him as well.

Monday morning we loaded into the vans, cameras in hand, and took off for the beautiful drive north on US Highway 550 to Ouray, CO. After a few hours of listening to Alex Barnoto  and Zach Stromsodt sing everything from Screamo to Disney and a short pit stop at Starbucks in Durango, CO, we arrived in the beautiful mountain town of Ouray. There were fine art and antique shops, old time photo booths, jewelry stores, and everyone’s favorite, Ouray Candy. 


With more reading assignments under way, more questions to be answered, and more challenges yet to come, we are ready to face the next week of Summit Semester. Your prayers will be much appreciated.

Blogger's Bio: “I grew up on a farm, so I have always had a great appreciation for God’s creation.”  Jessica is a Biology and Secondary Education major at Northwestern College.  She hopes to become a high school science teacher and coach.  She loves sports, most specifically basketball.  In addition to sports, Jessica likes to sing and play trumpet and piano. “No matter what the future holds, motivating the people around me to become disciples is the number one goal.”

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