Archives For Beauty


The Power of Beauty
A Feature Review of

Called to Attraction:
An Introduction to the Theology of Beauty
Brendan Thomas Sammon

Paperback: Cascade Books, 2017
Buy Now: [ Amazon] [Kindle ]
Reviewed by Julie Sumner

It was around noon when I walked out of my house one day in August, as the air cooled and the light took on a silvered quality. I joined my neighbor and her parents to watch the moon eclipse the sun. My husband, who rarely stops for lunch, joined his co-workers, walked out on a sidewalk downtown, and stared upward at the darkening sky. We, and eighty-eight million other Americans, all stopped what we were doing to watch a solar eclipse. We all stopped for the simple reason that the eclipse was beautiful, and because it was beautiful, we wanted all of our friends to see it, too.

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The Process and the Product
A Feature Review of

Thumbprint in the Clay:
Divine Marks of Beauty, Order and Grace

Luci Shaw

Paperback: IVP Books, 2016
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
Reviewed by Crystal Hurd
J.R.R. Tolkien, the father of modern fantasy, posited that creating art involves a process called “sub-creation.” Tolkien writes in “On Fairy-Stories” the origin of “sub-creation”:

The mental power of image-making is one thing, or aspect; and it should appropriately be called Imagination. The perception of the image, the grasp of its implications, and the control, which are necessary to a successful expression, may vary in vividness and strength: but this is a difference of degree in Imagination, not a difference in kind. The achievement of the expression, which gives (or seems to give) ‘the inner consistency of reality,’ is indeed another thing, or aspect, needing another name: Art, the operative link between Imagination and the final result, Sub-creation.

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Elizabeth Barrett BrowningLove, Mere Love, is Beautiful Indeed

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

From her collection Sonnets from the Portuguese (FREE for Kindle!)

***Other Books by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Yet, love, mere love, is beautiful indeed
And worthy of acceptation. Fire is bright,
Let temple burn, or flax; an equal light
Leaps in the flame from cedar-plank or weed:
And love is fire. And when I say at need
I love thee . . . mark! . . . I love thee–in thy sight
I stand transfigured, glorified aright,
With conscience of the new rays that proceed
Out of my face toward thine. There’s nothing low
In love, when love the lowest: meanest creatures
Who love God, God accepts while loving so.
And what I feel, across the inferior features
Of what I am, doth flash itself, and show
How that great work of Love enhances Nature’s.

Sonnet from the Portuguese and other collections by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Are available as free ebooks in a variety of formats (Kindle, Nook, etc) from
Project Gutenberg. org.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

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Inspired Inquiry

A Review of

Beauty in the Word: Rethinking the Foundations of Education

Stratford Caldecott

Paperback: Angelico Press, 2012
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Brett Beasley


Americans have never been more aware that our schools are letting our children down. We face the disturbing truth again and again on the radio, in the newspapers, and in political speeches. A few blocks from my home a billboard announces, “30% of High School Students Drop Out.” Films like Waiting for Superman expose the bureaucracy and special interests that made the problem so intractable. Nevertheless, we hold out hope that another program, another initiative, or another piece of legislation might come in time to alleviate the worst effects of the problem.

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Jess Walter - Beautiful RuinsWe All Want Something Beautiful

A Review of

Beautiful Ruins: A Novel

Jess Walter

Hardback: Harper, 2012.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Timothy Stege.

Growing up in the far south suburbs of Chicagoland, I was immersed in and surrounded by towns whose glory days had past. Gary, Indiana, collapsing into decay along with the steel mills and exported jobs, lay but a short drive to the east. To the west, Chicago Heights – former home of Al Capone and beautiful shopping centers and theaters and thriving industries – boarded up and falling down, its industrial zones like ghost towns. And my hometown, aging before my then adolescent eyes with the speed of time-lapse photography, now a place ?lled with only the memories of what is lost: vacant homes and failed subdivisions and shuttered businesses and overgrown parks. Sometimes when I pass through these old neighborhoods I am ?lled with a sadness that I can never quite put to words; it is a sadness rooted in the feeling that something beautiful has been lost, something that may never be recovered.

This feeling of ruined beauty permeates the atmosphere of Jess Walter’s latest novel, Beautiful Ruins. Walter’s narrative spans some 50 years and travels through Italy, the U.S., and England, and is not a singular tale. Rather, it moves back and forth through time and place, allowing the reader to see how the stories of nearly a dozen characters converge and diverge – some to converge again, some to spiral off into their own narratives, all to be affected by the actions of some of the others, all to show glimpses of beauty and ruin.

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“Making the Claims of
Truth and Goodness Meaningful

A review of
Beauty Will Save the World:
Recovering the Human in an Ideological Age

by Gregory Wolfe

Review by Jonathan Master.

BEAUTY WILL SAVE THE WORLD - Gregory WolfeBeauty Will Save the World:
Recovering the Human in an Ideological Age

by Gregory Wolfe
Hardback: ISI Books, 2011.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

There never was a golden age for art and the church.  Not one in which the church fully understood and supported her artists, or where the artists, for their part, practiced their work in constant service to the greater glory of God. But there have been better and worse times.  Our age, by anyone’s reckoning, is not one of the better ones. In general, the church is concerned, confused, or downright hostile to high art; and artists return the favor, often scorning traditional norms of decency, order, and Christian transcendence. Some have ventured into this breach, but few as successfully as Gregory Wolfe, writer, critic, and founder of the journal Image.  Wolfe’s work is a gift to us, deserving of our gratitude.

This ambitiously titled book, Beauty Will Save the World (“tell us what you really think, Mr. Wolfe”), is a hybrid of sorts.  It contains elements of autobiography, and sections which can best be described as intellectual match-making, introducing readers to important voices in contemporary art and literature. Along the way, Wolfe employs his incisive critical skills, showing once again why he is such a valuable resource in the efforts at rapprochement between art and the church.

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865786: Poetic Theology: God and the Poetics of Everyday Life

A Review of

Poetic Theology: God and the Poetics of Everyday Life

By William A. Dyrness
Paperback: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2011.

Buy now:
[ ]
[ Amazon – Kindle ]

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

[ Read an excerpt from this book…]

I have long-admired William Dyrness’s work; his The Earth is God’s, for instance, is one of the finest works on theology and culture.  I was therefore excited to learn of his recent book Poetic Theology: God and the Poetics of Everyday Life, a work that “seeks to connect poetry and theology.”  This is an extraordinarily important book, and (following in the vein of Ragan Sutterfield’s recent review of The Achievement of Wendell Berry) I must confess that I have not yet given it all the attention that it deserves. Allow me here to give just the tiniest taste of why this is such a crucial book.

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“Aesthetics and Social Transformation”

An Excerpt from

Poetic Theology:
God and the Poetics of Everyday Life
William Dyrness.
Paperback: Eerdmans, 2011.
Buy now: [ ]
[ Amazon – Kindle ]

Read our review above


Pied Beauty
Gerard Manley Hopkins

[ Found in GM Hopkins: Poems and Prose ]

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

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“The Constant Presence of Water

A review of
In Earshot of Water:
Notes from the Columbia Plateau
By Paul Lindholdt.

Reviewed by Sam Edgin.

[ Read an excerpt of this book… ]

IN EARSHOT OF WATER - Paul LindholdtIn Earshot of Water:
Notes from the Columbia Plateau
Paul Lindholdt.
Paperback: U. of Iowa Press, 2011.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

I sit here and I type away with my thoughts shifting every now and then towards the steady flow of Indiana’s White River, not four blocks east of my window. I fault Paul Lindholdt. His new book, In Earshot of Water: Notes From the Columbia Plateau revels in a constant presence of water, be it fresh, contaminated, frozen, still or flowing. Yet the book is not really about water. It is about conservation, about the last strongholds of American wilderness in the Pacific Northwest clinging dearly to the land they have held for centuries in the wake of industry, development,and technology. Sometimes it is even about the way they win. Lindholdt dances softly through his essays, often mirroring his considerations of the natural with events in his own life which bring him close to it. It is a subtly beautiful exploration into the relationship of humanity with ecology, all told in deeply personal prose, as if the reader were sitting beside Lindholdt’s sons for the campfire story times he mentions throughout the book.

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