“Beauty is the only stuff in which Truth can be clothed; and you may, if you will, call Imagination the tailor that cuts her garments to fit her, and Fancy his journeyman that puts the pieces of them together, or perhaps at most embroiders their button-holes. Obeying law, the maker works like his creator; not obeying law, he is such a fool as heaps a pile of stones and calls it a church.”
I keep returning to these words by George MacDonald and considering their various aspects. Certainly, beauty and truth share an intimate relationship. Can beauty exist without truth? Some things appear beautiful which contain no truth, so I conclude there can be a false sort of beauty, a pleasing vanity that engages the senses but ultimately falls flat and leaves the partaker devoid of pleasure, even duller of heart than before.
Can there be truth without beauty? I can’t imagine it. Even the most challenging truths of Scripture awaken the heart to awe. Beauty is that which inspires the senses, which uplifts the mind and spirit, which gives enduring joy to the beholder. Nothing devoid of truth could accomplish such a feat–only that which contains truth can make such claims.
So when we consider creativity and craftsmanship, whether of words or images or any other artistic endeavor, we shouldn’t attempt to separate one from the other, as if beauty and truth existed in separate spheres. Rather we must recognize that imagination and fancy, bounded by law and truth, create works of enduring beauty.
Image credit: maxnathans