Tap or click on the buttons for the words below. The text will roll down; re-tap to roll back up. These articles are meant to be a start, a step beyond mere definition, like the text you see below for 'Beauty'. There are more terms after that.
What Is Beauty?
English word origin: Old French biaute < Latin bellus (pretty), influenced by Latin beatus (happy, blessed).
Definition: Beauty is
(1) a quality of visible matters such as form, color, shape, reflectivity, glow, flow, proportion, or excellence you can sense, which gives a feeling of happiness or being blessed.
(2) obvious truthfulness or originality, including beauty of sound or music; or, an outstanding example.
(3) you don't really define beauty; you behold it.
Let Beauty Take You There
Beauty takes us somewhere -- higher, lower, but most importantly, truer and more whole. It's a vibe, but more; a reality, but also a glimpse of what is beyond. In doing so, beauty is a revealing work of the Holy Spirit. Beauty is a cover for the fake and an expression of the real, the half that's true in many things that are half-true. Beauty is in a lover's embrace, or the celebration of a bright sunshiny day. Beauty is better at communicating than naked fact or plain image, yet there is a beauty in logic and in abstract thought-as-an-art. There is the beauty of a life well-lived and a relationship well-loved. There is beauty in the grit of repentance and forgiveness, in the grace of reconciliation, and the reestablishment of love where love was destroyed. There is, most of all, the Creator of Beauty, the Beautiful Savior, who takes an ugly blood-dripped execution device and makes it worthy of jewelry and art. The outstretched arms of the crucified Christ is the ultimate Yes to us all, and that kind of welcome is beautiful in a world of rejection. The risen Christ who comes back to us even from death is beautiful in a world of abandonment. If we follow this Creator, ought we not also bring at least a touch of beauty into whatever we do, especially as a body of believers? And ought we not bear the beauty and grace-full-ness of Jesus' way in our own way of living?
The Ultimate Artist gave us the divine gift of making beauty, and the challenge of making life even more beautiful than it already is.
"Beauty and grandeur are not anonymous; they are outbursts of God's kindness." Abraham Heschel, *the Prophets*
"Do I love you because you're beautiful,
Or are you beautiful because I love you?" Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II, *Cinderella*
"Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God's handwriting — a wayside sacrament. Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower, and thank God for it as a cup of blessing." Ralph Waldo Emerson
creativity [ < Latin creāre (to cause to exist) ] the ability to make something exist; to innovate, to imagine and make something come to be from it. To make something out of what's deep down within us, which makes for conflict or peace, insight or resistance.
We make out of what is; even our thoughts are based on what we already have experienced/learned, so it's not quite the same thing as God can do. Yet even God doesn't usually create out of nothing. God apparently prefers creating through modifying stuff that's already been created.
Creativity and Being Human
Human creativity draws from the same kind of creative power that is part of the image of God in us, the same kind of creative power that God used in making us out of already-existing earthly stuff (represented in Genesis by the clay and the garden). We can create that which is ugly, false, selfish, deceptive, diversionary, flimsy, superficial, distortive, evil, greedy, murderous, violent, or controlling - even though truth and beauty have a way of pushing in between the cracks. We can be creative at the 'art' of un-creating and being anti-creative; we're very good at being bad. We can create beauty, harmony, truth, compassion, durability, trust, justice, righteousness, solidarity, peace, or community. Creativity cuts both ways, like everything else in this created realm; remember that next time someone praises creativity.
Being Creative in All of Life
Creativity is not a matter of thought. Creativitymust go somewhere, do something, be something, or make something happen. Otherwise, it's not really creative. It is spiritual by its nature; it lives. But sometimes being patient and wise are more important than being creative. When most people think of 'creative', their mind goes to art, music, poetry, or performance. However, for the creative mind, there is room to create in all walks of life. Apple Computing is famous for its creative engineering. Urban redevelopment often involves creative re-visioning of a neighborhood. Some money-center banks are infamous for their 'creative financing'. But you must be open to new approaches in order to create.
English word origin: Latin imāginārī < imāgō (image) ]
By imagining, you can find out how things might become, even if you know through ordinary thinking that they can't be that way. Imagination finds ways, possibilities. Imagination is not reality, but it usually has at least some way of being reflected in reality. (When it doesn't, it's mere fantasy.) You can use your imagination to set yourself into what happens in the Bible, and thus let it have more impact on you. God's got a great imagination, though one that's a bit strange. (Would you have imagined a giraffe?) God imagined us before creating us. God uses the divine imagination to make a way out of no way, to make good come from evil. When the Holy Spirit is inspiring someone, that person's imagination is engaged and running at full speed, taking them in new and unexpected directions.
Re-Directing Your Imagination
Imagination can also give us a wholesale escape from truth. (For instance, TV shows are often vehicles for a craving to escape reality, triggering our imagination both when the show is on and when it's off.) Today's world has become so good and so thorough at the art of triggering use of the imagination for escape that it is easier than ever to trick ourselves or let others trick us. Our imagination becomes trained to go in that same escapist rut, and is thus crippled in helping us deal with real life. We need less to 'expand' our imagination than to redirect it toward grasping a full vision for the real world.
Now, imagine looking for 'imagination' in the dictionary.
If you're thinking that imagination and doctrine don't relate well, try this video from Tim Keller.
And not just doctrine: According to Lutheran professor Larry Rasmussen, imagination is one key part of our place in the mystery of the sacramental in life (an academic-level article; the main subject is reached at paragraph 62).
harmony [ < Greek harmonia (harmony, agreement < working together) < harmos (joint) ] A sense of being in a right relationship with the rest of existence.
Harmony can't happen in a system where all things lose identity into an Absolute Oneness (like most Asian and New Age religions); the result would be one melody by one voice, no unison and no parts. The beauty would be much less. Christianity holds that each person -- and beyond that, each part of nature -- is loved by God for what they are. If all of them sing only what they feel like singing, it's just noise, a cacophony not a harmony. But if they follow the Conductor, there are melodies and harmonies, rhythms and raps, whistles and claps, leads and backup. It would all fit together. That harmony is the Kingdom, not our current life. But we can now live according to God's will as revealed in Jesus, and thus be a part of the harmony now and later.
Where Do We Find Harmony?
The three closest earthly things to this harmony are: