aestheotic: adj, having to do with beauty (aesthetic) and divinity (theos)
In response to my dad’s recommendation and a current school assignment, I decided to write a blog “…accounting for the books, people, and experiences which have been most important to your development as a reader and writer.” I will do my best not to propound my views (something I heartily embrace) but to expound upon my inner person (something I don’t often try to do).
When I contemplate the things that influenced me to think the way I do, I hearken back to the songs my parents sang to me when they tucked me in to bed. My dad (not the main tucker, but did it more than once) would most often sing “Edelweiss”, my mom usually sang “I am Jesus’ Little Lamb”. The latter is a Christian nursery song, and I always understood it to refer to Jesus as the person who loved me and took care of me. But only later did I realize “Edelweiss” was a patriotic song about Austria, made popular by the motion picture The Sound of Music. To me, it was merely about the beauty of a small, white flower.
I see these songs as highly influential because they shaped the way I approach the world around me. When it comes the way I read and write, two general motives guide me: my relationship to the Almighty and my appreciation for beauty. My personal interest often waxes or wanes in response to the compatibility of the subject matter with my theology or aesthetic sensibility.
At times, my “taste” in something is the only avenue by which I can enjoy it. When I see the cover of the latest book coming from a New Age author, the aesthetic side of me drinks in the edgy designs while my truth-detecting intuition grows disgusted. In the same token, I often suppress many of the artistic sensibilities I have in order to grasp the concepts in a book that teaches me about history or spirituality. Currently, I’m reading a biography on a Puritan and a harmony of Israelite historical books. While I savor the information within both, neither one gives my imagination much visual or poetic stimulation.
The intersection of beauty and theology create my most exciting moments of reading and writing. Nothing could make me happier than writing a paper, song, or blog that accurately conveys my relationship with God in an accessible and colorful way. If I see a movie or read a book that can show truth in a beautiful way, it becomes close to my heart. Could this even apply to my view of women?
Most notable among these “aestheotic” moments was the first time I watched Pulp Fiction. Impressive cinematography combining with extraordinary dialogue made the movie compelling for my artistic side. Yet as Bruce Willis’ character “Butch” drives away on a motorcycle named “Grace” after saving his worst enemy from a vicious episode of torture (to put it tactfully), I couldn’t resist breaking down every frame to see some sort of theological significance. The movie has become a favorite (albeit a disturbing and seldom watched favorite) of mine.
Of course, these two elements of my interpretation do not constitute the limits of my appreciative abilities. A suspenseful mystery will keep me turning dozens of pages in one sitting. Stories with any kind of sports theme leave me on the edge of my seat as the team runs its final play to get the ball to the best shooter for the shot that wins the championship. I’ll never forget the end of Hoosiers, Rudy, or Rocky. I can still remember how I felt reading The Hunt for the Red October, Fahrenheit 451, or 1984. But primarily, the reason they matter so much isn’t the action or the suspense, but the broader themes that pervade the story corresponding to the passion and beauty with which it is told.