Saturday, August 23, 2008

Beauty and theology

The purpose of theology isn't to be pretty. Which isn't to say that theology shouldn't be pretty, or worse, that it should be ugly.

I get cranked with those on both sides. We have the ones who will do virtually anything in the Mass if it's "beautiful": no matter how unorthodox or bad the teaching.

Others seem to revel in a sort of semi-puritan ugliness: ugly buildings, ugly music, ugly liturgies, and bare, naked walls.

I use the Authorized Version of the Bible, the KJV. It's usually quite beautiful, even though that's not the reason I use it. But the translation was written for public reading, unlike many of the junkier translations being pumped out by publishers, and it shows in the majesty of the renditions.

The book of Job is a good example of beautiful language in the midst of one of the most compelling stories in the scripture. The end of Job's speech in 3.28 is a good example:

"I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came."

Likewise, Psalm 101:

"I will sing of mercy and judgment: unto thee, O LORD, will I sing.

2 I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.

3 I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.

4 A froward heart shall depart from me: I will not know a wicked person.

5 Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer.

6 Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me.

7 He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight.

8 I will early destroy all the wicked of the land; that I may cut off all wicked doers from the city of the LORD."

If you haven't used a KJV in a while, give it another shot. There are many reasons for using this translation. The beauty of the language isn't sufficient, but the beauty is still compelling to me.

No comments: