Something holy glimmers in beauty

By Dave Henning / October 13, 2022

“Something holy glimmers in beauty.  Not the holiness we ‘re used to talking about in American Protestant evangelical churches — something powerful, even dreadful, while also abounding in eternal wonder and beauty.  This beauty calls us past the temporal things of the world, asks us to sit and be still, and to ponder God.”- Timothy D. Willard

Timothy Willard concludes Chapter 11 of The Beauty Chasers as he talks about the world numinous. created by German theologian Rudolph Otto in 1917.  Otto combined the word numen, a Latin term meaning ‘divine power’ with the word ominous.  As a result, Otto formed the word numinous to describe a deep religious experience.  One created through inexpressible and terrifying feelings of mystery related to God.

In addition, this numinous experience comes to us from outside ourselves.  Thus, it creates the feeling or sense that something ‘wholly other’ is present.  And Christians know that ‘wholly other’ as God.

However, Timothy confesses, at times he fails to trust the Lord:

“But, I admit, I don’t always look [for God to provide].  I pray to you for guidance and help, but like the children of Israel who planted their crops, prayed to you, and then prayed to the pagan gods of rain and agriculture just to cover their bases, I pray to the pagan god of myself and work, and work . . . numbing my hearing beneath the rattle of my metaphorical plow.”

In conclusion, the author underscores, the witness of numinous beauty manifests itself in a quieter, steadier friend who listens.

Finally, Timothy reflects on Jesus as I Am.  In John 18:4-5 we read:

“Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’  “Jesus of Nazareth,’ they replied. ‘I am he,’ Jesus said.”

Most significantly, Timothy states, the ‘he’ we find in the English translations is implied.  So here Jesus utters the Divine Name.  Furthermore, Jesus identified Himself with the name.  Hence, the soldiers fell to the ground in a numinous moment.  And this Jesus walks with you every day!

Today’s question: Do you agree with the author that something holy glimmers in beauty?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “The spiritual discipline of seeing”

About the author

Dave Henning

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