Statues are coming down all over America, some in a raging mob amidst political pandering, and others with government-directed construction crews. Few memorials are coming down after calm debates and reasoned decisions. Why do we have such statues in the first place? Which ones is it appropriate to remove? Which not?
The mass killing of Jews and other “undesirables” by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust (1939-1945) was one of the worst crimes in modern history. The Holocaust spilled oceans of blood, and its cruelty was beyond imagination. Concentration camps like Auschwitz in Poland and memorials and museums in places like Berlin and Washington DC educate current and future generations on what happened in the hopes that such an atrocity will never occur again.
A look at beauty denied, misunderstood, reviled, and ignored, in the modern world.
The other day I was driving to the Mine Academy in Beckley for a strategic planning session. Nancy called and bade me to look to the southeast, where I beheld a particularly stunning sunrise. On arriving a few minutes early at the meeting, I mentioned the sunrise to several people, but only a few bothered to look out of the window. On a hike last summer, Nancy found a tiny deep purple flower amidst dying grasses. On a different occasion, she spotted a set of intricate ice crystals astride a fallen log and a pile of snow. As with the Mine Academy example, others in the area didn’t notice, or didn’t care. Life is composed of little moments of beauty such as these – to miss the beauty is to miss life itself. Why do so few people seem to notice?
We will enjoy and appreciate art more if we know more about art. Here are some tips.
My family lived in Stuttgart, Germany in the early 1990s and during one “in-law” visit, my father in law asked to go to an art museum. I was skeptical; I wasn’t raised to be a fan of art, and had no interest in becoming one. Out of love and respect for my father in law, and in the interest of family harmony, we went. The museum was amazing, my eyes were opened, and I never eschewed art again.
While traveling in Eastern Europe in April of 2000, our family visited the National Art Museum in Warsaw. I had always had a love of history, and our experience in Germany demonstrated the close tie between history and art, so I wouldn’t miss it. To see the Polish art was to feel the joy, and the suffering, of Poland over the centuries.
Physical beauty, whether in a lilac or in a lady, is a gift from God. We must enjoy it, develop it, protect it, value it, and ultimately give Him the glory.
My recent travels led me to the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a conversation with Felicity, a Boyce College undergraduate studying the Bible before she moves on to a degree in cosmetology. A beautiful and engaging young woman, Felicity believes that her call in ministry is to help others be beautiful and engaging. Helping other coeds with hair, makeup, and the like is a joy to her, and a source of some badly needed cash.
Yet there is a proverbial fly in the ointment. Felicity has a wonderful Christian role model who works in the industry, and she has reported to Felicity that cosmetology is hard for people dedicated to Christ. Many people involved, both workers and clients, act as if physical appearance is all that matters. Youth and vanity, already lauded in much of American culture, become idolized in the walls of the salon. Should a committed Christ-follower even be in such an environment? If so, how can she keep her heart pure? Felicity asked me what I thought on this issue, and I have written some thoughts below.