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Quotes Archive

beauty quote box

These are quotes I’ve gathered from a variety of writers on beauty, creativity, and imagination.

Beauty can be consoling, disturbing, sacred, profane; it can be exhilarating, appealing, inspiring, chilling. It can affect us in an unlimited variety of ways. Yet it is never viewed with indifference: beauty demands to be noticed; it speaks to us directly like the voice of an intimate friend. If there are people who are indifferent to beauty, then it is surely because they do not perceive it.

Roger Scruton, Beauty: A Very Short Introduction,

The art we need in an age of anxiety is art that faces our fears and invites us to overcome them — art that both attends to the world and transcends the world… Art is especially adept at showing us beauty and brokenness. Seeing both is necessary for a meaningful life.

–James K.A. Smith

Beauty is the quality connected with those things that are in themselves appealing and desirable.
Beautiful things are a delight to the senses, a pleasure to the mind, and a refreshment for the spirit.
Beauty invites us in, capturing our attention and making us want to linger.
They inspire—or even demand—a response… (Makoto Fujimura, Culture Care, 39,40)

[CS ]Lewis’s mind was above all was characterized by an openness to delight… Surely he would have said that when we can no longer be “wide open to the glory” we have lost not just our childlikeness but something nears the core of our humanity.

Alan Jacobs, The Narnian

Is there certain music that gives you deep joy? Is there a view or landscape that does the same? If someone says, “What is the use of that?” you answer that the music or landscape is not a means to some other end but profoundly satisfying in itself. David’s supreme priority is “to gaze on the beauty of the Lord” (Psalm 27:4). “Gazing” is not petitionary prayer but praising, admiring, and enjoying God just for who he is. God is beautiful, not just useful for attaining goods. To sense God’s beauty in the heart is to have such pleasure in him that you rest content. (Timothy Keller, Songs of Jesus, 49)

Beauty touches on some combination of qualities, difficult to quantify, of pattern, design, form, shape, color, sound, light, integrity, and relationship. It appeals to us at multiple levels, speaking to our intellect and our logical capacities as well as our emotions and spirit. (Makoto Fujimura, Culture Care)

Beauty tutors our compassion, making us more prone to love and to see the attraction of goodness. Art takes us out of our self-referentiality and invites us to see through the eyes of the other, whether that other is the artist herself or a character in a story. Because beauty endows goodness with mercy, it enables us to see how difficult it is to achieve goodness, how often one good exists in tension with another. Our pursuit of the good is inherently dramatic, and drama is based on conflict. (Gregory Wolfe, “The Wound of Beauty,” Image Journal 56)

Literature performs a threefold function: it presents human experience for contemplation, it offers an interpretation of that experience, and it presents form/technique/beauty for a reader’s enjoyment. It is a time-honored axiom that literature is both useful and delightful…
Christians have traditionally found it difficult to grant integrity to this world of the imagination and have found ways to suppress or discredit the imaginary elements in literature. One tenancy has been to denigrate fiction and fantasy as being untruthful, frivolous, a waste of time, escapist, and something to be left behind with childhood… Another is to reduce literature to ideas…
These responses misinterpret the nature of literature. Literature is built on a grand paradox: it is a make-believe world that nonetheless reminds us of real life and clarifies it for us…. There is no valid reason for the perennial Christian preference of biography, history, and the newspaper to fiction and poetry. (Leland Ryken, “Thinking Christianly about Literature,” in The Christian Imagination, 23-25)

True beauty is a multi-layered affair, which is able to acknowledge and embrace friction, violence, brokenness, pain, suffering, and all that a fallen world entails. The best and most enduring works in the history of art, music, and literature—have always been able to visit the darkest places of the human condition and the bleakest moments in human history. Indeed, an important aspect of art’s calling is precisely to expose the world’s fragmentation and pain as signs of its broken and fallen condition. Such “prophetic” art is not necessarily well proportioned or harmonious in the classical sense, but it will be “attractive” or “arresting” in that it captures some of life’s most poignant yet elusive experiences.  In that sense, art thus helps us make sense of our world and, in doing so, can bring shalom to the world, even as it highlights its brokenness. (Adrienne Chaplin, It Was Good: Making Art to the Glory of God, 47)

A deeper understanding of beauty came into being with Christianity. The cross, the instrument of torture and shame, was taken up into a higher vision of beauty. Brokenness and woundedness—the shattering of the ideal—can become the means whereby beauty is revealed. Here is a beauty that is anything but sentimental. It is akin to what Yeats meant by his phrase “a terrible beauty.” Lest we forget, the glorified body of the risen Christ still bears the marks of his wounds. (Gregory Wolfe, “The Wound of Beauty,” Image Journal 56)

The essence of true religious experience is to be overwhelmed by a glimpse of the beauty of God, to be drawn to the glory of his perfections and sense his irresistible love. It is something like being overwhelmed by the beauty of a great work of art or music. We become so enthralled by the beauty that we lose consciousness of self and self-interest and become absorbed by the magnificent object. (Gerald McDermott, The Great Theologians, 117,118)