“Truth and beauty”

I hear this phrase get thrown around a lot as if it were a traditional Christian meme, which set off my discernment alarm. I dig some basic digging and, tl;dr- it’s neo-Platonism.

Click through for the larger versions of these:

truth and beauty - google ngram viewer

truth and beauty 2 - google ngram viewer

truth and beauty 3 - google ngram viewer

This is not to suggest that Christianity is opposed to virtue (or the classic ideals of goodness, truth, beauty), by any means, but rather that we always need to be on the lookout for heresy in the guise of an angel of light. We aren’t opposed to truth but we are opposed to gnosis, and gnosis is called truth often enough to keep an eye out for esotericism.

We probably owe the popularity of the phrase “truth and beauty” to Keats, on account of the timing shown above, but the perfect equation of the two has been around since at least the 2nd century:

You see, the All had been inside of him, that illimitable, inconceivable one, who is better than every thought.

This ignorance of the Father brought about terror and fear. And terror became dense like a fog, that no one was able to see. Because of this, error became strong. But it worked on its hylic substance vainly, because it did not know the truth. It was in a fashioned form while it was preparing, in power and in beauty, the equivalent of truth. This then, was not a humiliation for him, that illimitable, inconceivable one. For they were as nothing, this terror and this forgetfulness and this figure of falsehood, whereas this established truth is unchanging, unperturbed and completely beautiful.

The Gospel of Truth

You will not find this equivalence anywhere in the Bible, nor any admonition to find “the Father” within. I’m nearly certain the former is evil, and I know the latter is. That dissonance is why I was once inspired to say this:

This is also, incidentally, why Christianity can never serve as a civil religion. It is profoundly counterintuitive at the deepest level, and thus can’t be used to appeal to the most basic desire of the human heart to be a god unto oneself. If it’s worldly success you want, emulate the fallen angel of truth and beauty and reify the Lightbringer within, or GTFO. If you want to imitate Jesus just be aware you’re not going to be a conquering king, you’re going to get crucified.

Cultural psychotherapy, mass countertransference, and Jordan Peterson

I haven’t formed an opinion on this Keats fellow yet but this isn’t a great start, because it’s reminding me of Goethe. The pagans were correct to value virtue and honor highly (i.e. “strength”), because strength is the way of the world, but paganism is only the first half of Christianity and if you’re still sacrificing goats it implies you never really bought into part 2. (I’m reminded of all those conservatives who say they love the first 20 minutes of Full Metal Jacket but they hate the rest.)

>Isn’t this blasphemous–to use the most sacred images of our faith, of this Jesus came to save the world thing, and turn them into some kind of show?

“It’s because the church and the Catholic imagination [interesting phrasing, the theme of this exhibit] are all about three things: truth, goodness, and beauty. That’s why we’re into such things as art, culture, literature, music, and yes, even fashion.” -Archbishop Timothy Dolan

It’s a very smooth recasting but obviously, as you [Knowles] point out, for a lot of people who are spiritual and do care about the spirituality that they find in the Catholic church, they just step back and go “What the fuck are you talking about?”

(Quote taken from 25:00 to 26:00, H/T Fox.)

Be careful where you get your traditional values from because the meme “truth and beauty” didn’t exist prior to 1880. Anyway, I don’t figure most of the Alt-Righters going around repeating this phrase are big into Nag Hammadi relics, they’re just not all that discerning. God gave us different spiritual gifts so we would be dysfunctional if we didn’t work together “so that no one may boast”.

But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

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6 Responses to “Truth and beauty”

  1. Heaviside says:

    Medieval Christian theology until the rise of Nominalism was a continuation of Neo-Platonism (which was mere Platonism to its adherents). If you reject Platonism then you reject traditional Christian theology, and then you have don’t have any basis for rejecting the numerous schismatic groups as heretics. Moreover, if you’re Protestant what basis do you have for rejecting Gnostic and other scriptures as non-canonical?

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      > If you reject Platonism then you reject traditional Christian theology, and then you have don’t have any basis for rejecting the numerous schismatic groups as heretics

      This would end up being a discussion of definitions. The end of it is, I purity spiral on the gospel message of sin and redemption, and would cast out anyone who assigns it a secondary role to some other thing.

      >Moreover, if you’re Protestant what basis do you have for rejecting Gnostic and other scriptures as non-canonical?

      It’s been 16 years since I looked at that question, I’d have to refresh myself on the apologetics. How badly do you want an answer?

  2. glosoli says:

    >This is also, incidentally, why Christianity can never serve as a civil religion.

    Do you ever ponder what Jehovah thinks when he reads those words brother? I’ll hazard a guess: ‘This puny human thinks he knows better than me’.
    Something like that. Do you think He will feel inclined to bless your life as a result, or just turn away?

    Christianity has, can and will again serve perfectly as a civil religion. Alfred the Great and his sons did it, and Britain was blessed for c. 1100 years. It’s really not difficult, once you know the rules. Have you yet read the Sabbath book I sent to you some months ago, it was 3rd on your list I recall? You’ll really enjoy it.

    >It is profoundly counter intuitive at the deepest level, and thus can’t be used to appeal to the most basic desire of the human heart to be a god unto oneself.

    It is counter intuitive, you will find that described and explained very nicely in the Sabbath book. But we shouldn’t be imitating Jesus, we should simply be submitting to Jehovah. How can we imitate Jesus anyway, He was here on a specific mission. The bible makes it clear, obedience and faith will see you alright. You young guns perhaps have the faith, but lack humility and obedience. So do all Churchians, modern Christianity, the lot of it, is ripe for the dustbin of history.

    >If it’s worldly success you want, emulate the fallen angel of truth and beauty and reify the Lightbringer within, or GTFO. If you want to imitate Jesus just be aware you’re not going to be a conquering king, you’re going to get crucified.

    I will email you my closing trade statements to fully disprove this point in the near future.

    I fully expect to lead a conquering new nation, not as King, we don’t need no stinking King. With Jehovah behind a new Dumnonia, we cannot lose, all our needs will be met (that’s the faith bit).

    Trust in and obey the Lord, really simple, really easy.

  3. Aeoli Pera says:

    I’ve finished Gambetto but not the cryptography book.

    >I fully expect to lead a conquering new nation,

    Luckily, I’m an empiricist at heart. When this happens, I’ll concede the argument.

  4. SirHamster says:

    Moreover, if you’re Protestant what basis do you have for rejecting Gnostic and other scriptures as non-canonical?

    Not submitting to the existing Catholic church hierarchy does not mean we have to reject their previous scholarship on canonicity of Bible books. Past Christians closer to that time period investigated the available books and recognized certain books as divinely inspired.

    The Protestant split had to do with a belief that the Catholic church then and perhaps now has elevated traditions and social hierarchies over Scripture, rather than getting everything wrong. The split and separation to avoid that error does create a different vulnerability to heresy and corruption.

  5. Heaviside says:

    >The end of it is, I purity spiral on the gospel message of sin and redemption, and would cast out anyone who assigns it a secondary role to some other thing.

    Theology and ritual are what make the Bible more than just a collection of stories.

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