A good number of Christian scholars draw first and foremost on Thomas Aquinas for their accounts of beauty. Desmond, though he’s aware of and engages with the Thomistic tradition, has spent much of his career interacting with the thought of Hegel, perhaps most directly, as it pertains to the subject of beauty, in Art and the Absolute: A Study of Hegel’s Aesthetics.
There are things that a full room can do for us. It can reassure us. It can offer comfort. It can offer luxury and pleasant distractions. A full room can be cozy and a crowded refrigerator reassuring. A room can be full of company. We can be and feel less alone. A full room can teach us to share.
Ralph's art might never grace the walls of collectors or galleries or museums in his lifetime, but he knows from experience art’s potential to draw crowds that can encounter the gospel.
Christians, then, have the proper perspective from which to read literature. We can see the profound truths of literature, be they ancient or modern, “pagan” or Christian. Furthermore, we can also rebut those scholars and interpreters who would rather praise the rage of Achilles and the false love of Heathcliff and Catherine instead of accepting the plainer truth that peace and new life come through acts of reconciliatory forgiveness, however hard it is to live by that standard ourselves.
If truth, beauty, and goodness are truly and mystically related, beauty really is dangerous—but only to evil. Reading Culture Care, and contemplating Makoto Fujimura’s art, I can believe it.