Explore How Your Experience of Beauty Intersects with Faith in God
Our experience of beauty drives our desires, and our desires drive our actions. We tend to follow our passions down a path that leads us to becoming one type of person or another: and so, beauty shapes who we choose to be.
But the Christian has a higher claim on her identity: discipleship, and the responsibility to be conformed to Christ. How are we to avoid being seduced away from this core mission by the siren call of worldly beauty?
What we need is a way to understand our experience of worldly beauty in light of our divine calling. What we need is a theology of beauty.
"Beauty is a summons. It begins with the most vulnerable part of ourselves, bypassing our sophistication, training, and habituation to reach that inmost point from which we know ourselves to be creatures and to be under authority. But it touches that place graciously, not in judgment; and so, rather than finding ourselves terrified before a truth we have hidden from for so long, we find ourselves romanced by a desire we can never seem to shake."
from The Father of Lights: A Theology of Beauty, p. 194
The Father of Lights: A Theology of Beauty is a deep reflection on beauty from a theological standpoint. By beginning with our desires and opening them for conscious reflection, it re-introduces our heart to our head and creates a space in which the two can commune.
This course can help you better understand the experiences that have shaped your life, that also shaped the life of someone like C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien; that, indeed, deeply shape the lives of every man and woman coming into the world.
And when you have learned to see beauty theologically, you will find that your eyes are opened to see more beauty everywhere, and that all beauty becomes drives you deeper into love, devotion, and gratitude to God.
Next offering TBA
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$500 / student
Here is a taste of some of the discussions we will have:
Week One: Eternity in Our Hearts: Memory, Beauty, and Divinity
Week Two: The Eyes of Faith: Contuition and Spiritual Vision
Week Three: Beauty and Analogy
Week Four: Word and Concept: The Nature of Language
Week Five: Concept Squared: The Nature of Metaphor
Week Six: Res and Concept: Things as Signs
Week Seven: Res Sacramenti: The Nature of Sacraments
Week Eight: Radiant Res: Icons and Ecstasy
It is rare to find such a lucid, and indeed beautiful, account of the theology of beauty. The terms are well defined, the argument precisely advanced and defended, and the range of reference capacious. It's as though, amid a modern debate that has generated more heat than light, one of the classic theologians of the Scholastic period has stepped into the room and brought us at last some clarity, definition, and order.
"The beauty of holiness" has long been a familiar phrase with a somewhat elusive meaning. With a combination of scholarly precision and infectious relish for the theological task, Junius Johnson gives a new clarity to this phrase. Beauty is interpreted as the manifestation of a sanctity whose fullness we both remember and anticipate as we encounter a world of creatures densely, dazzlingly, and divinely interconnected.
Junius Johnson has contributed a powerful adequation of St. Bonaventure's conception of beauty--both as gift from the Father of Lights and as illumination leading back to him. [...] Johnson's thoughtful book [...] is brimming with insight, a remarkably fruitful excursus in philosophical theology in which many will find worthy treasures.
What is beauty and why does its very essence call a response in the human self? Why is beauty a mystery? Is beauty only experienced with the physical senses or is it a spiritual experience, or all of this? These questions, and so much more are reasons to dive deep into in the Father of Lights: A Theology of Beauty. To study together this thoughtful and articulate book, with author and scholar Dr. Junius Johnson could very well change one’s life; at the very least, it will open your inner eyes to more beauty everywhere, every when, and in every created thing.
Johnson's work is an illuminating meditation on the experience of beauty and that experience's implications for the world of theology.
Junius Johnson is easily one of the smartest, most creative, most learned theologians of his generation. Johnson controls all the relevant literature, both theological and theoretical. As an artist in his own right, he has an insider's feel for the topic. And he brings a rare combination of intelligence, insight, and perceptiveness to this material. Most of my students will be interested in this book and so will many people I go to church with. I strongly and enthusiastically recommend it.