Catholic Match: On Beauty

My latest post is up on CatholicMatch, in which I get to quote St. Augustine, The Lord of the Rings, and My Little Pony all in the service of beauty.

That is why I hate the phrase ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder,’ and consider it a grotesque blasphemy. To turn that which so completely removes our gaze from ourselves and twists it into a mere statement of our own reactions—in fact to turn our gaze back upon ourselves—is the sensual equivalent of an auto-immune disease, akin to making your charitable works a demonstration of your own piety. Like so much in our modern culture, it invokes compassion to tempt us to self-centeredness.

No, beauty is not in the eye of the beholder. It is not something we project upon the world around us, but something that we meet and respond to. It is undeniable reality. As St. Augustine said, if you question the beauty of created things, they themselves will answer you “Here, look; we are beautiful,” and in so doing, point to the glory of their Creator.

The natural response, the one we ought to have, is to admire beauty and to be thankful for it. When we meet beauty in the form of a woman (which is the greatest form of beauty we normally meet in this life), it can inspire the first beginnings of love.

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Read the rest and see what you think.

 

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Dating and Disney

New CatholicMatch Post is up, where I get to talk about Mr. Disney and plug my book. Check it out here (the post, not the book. Check that out here).

Sample:

Had Mr. Disney waited until he was financially secure with the time to dedicate to romance, he probably would never have married. For most of his life, his own and his company’s finances were in a very precarious state, and he was constantly working himself to near exhaustion. But he made the time to court and marry his wife, and he made the time to be with his children. For most of his career, in spite of his tremendous workload, he managed to come home for dinner almost every night, drive his girls to school every morning, and set aside at least one whole day a week to spend with his family.

In his family as with his films, Mr. Disney saw what he wanted and made the effort necessary to get it, even if it was a risk, even if it seemed impractical or imprudent. He didn’t wait around until he was ‘secure;’ he made himself secure by constantly going after what he wanted.

 

Fairy Tales Post at Catholic Match

I like this one. Fairy Tales are near and dear to my heart and it annoys me to no end when people attack them or sneer at them for silly reasons.

It’s an odd thing about fairy tales—they’re always under attack, yet they always survive. Like Snow White, they are constantly being threatened by proud malevolence, yet they’re always finding shelter among the noble and humble, and even when they seem dead, they keep coming back.

The attacks have been much the same since at least the Victorian era (when, as Prof. Tolkien said, they gravitated to the nursery along with the old furniture)—fairy tales are ‘unrealistic,’ childish, silly, ‘escapism,’ and so on. More recently, they’re ‘sexist’ and create unrealistic expectations, especially with regard to romance.

All this, I think, is very silly. True, it’s easy to deconstruct a fairy tale. It’s also easy to deconstruct a Ming vase, but doing so says more about you than about the art of Chinese pottery. Fairy tales simply aren’t built to stand up to that kind of criticism because they’re meant to do other and more important things

Read the whole thing here.

And, if that makes you interested in reading more about the deeper ideas in fairy tales and similar stories, you might like to check out a certain book that just came out:

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Catholic Match Post: Love Honor More

My latest post is up on Catholic Match:

Of course, honor isn’t only expressed in momentous, world-shaking events like the American Revolution. In fact, it’s mostly expressed in small, day-to-day affairs in which we are offered the chance to do either what is right or what is easy.

There’s an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show that illustrates this well (if you haven’t seen the show, you should check it out; it’s a ton of fun, and has more raw talent packed into a relatively small cast than half the shows of today have all put together). The episode sees Rob (Van Dyke), a TV writer, discovering that he has to take a business trip to review a new performer his show might want to hire. Only the trouble is, the trip would mean missing his son’s school play. Rob doesn’t want to miss the play, but feels that his responsibility to his job has to take precedence in this case, especially since getting out of the trip would mean lying to his boss. His wife, Laura (Mary Tyler Moore) thinks he ought to put his son’s play first, and pressures him into lying his way out of the trip.

However, after sleeping on it (and having a hilarious nightmare) Rob decides that he needs to be the one to make this decision and goes on the trip. Laura’s angry at first, and Rob spends the trip feeling guilty, but when he gets home she admits that she’d much rather he do what he thinks is right than cater to her wishes every time. The fact that he is willing to honor his responsibilities, even when it is difficult, is precisely what makes him a good husband and father.

Such a small domestic argument probably isn’t what comes to mind when you think of the word ‘honor,’ but for most of us, this is how the matter will manifest itself; not in a decision whether to run home or fight for the freedom of your nation, but in the simple question of which of two competing responsibilities in daily life you will give precedence to.

Gushing about Cyrano on CatholicMatch

Cyrano de Bergerac is one of my favorite pieces of literature, and today I got to write about it. Okay, actually I wrote this piece several months ago, but it was published today and that’s all that counts. 

Yet the truth is that Cyrano exaggerates his own predicament. His other qualities more than make up for his physical appearance in the eyes of women, as well as those of most of men. A poor serving girl is smitten by him like a teenager swooning over a movie star. His comrades-in-arms look to him as their leader and the hero of their regiment. When he performs some great feat of gallantry, as when he marches off to fight a hundred men single handedly, he receives fervent admiration from everyone around him.

Even his enemies, such as the proud Comte de Guiche make little or no mention of his nose, but of his gadfly-like tendencies and willingness to insult them with impunity. It is his own vanity and preoccupation with his perceived disfiguration that is the source of his failure: not his nose.

You see, by playing to his strengths, Cyrano is able to make his defects recede into the background. His wit and courage inspire admiration and envy far more than his nose invites ridicule, if he could only see it.