Sunday, November 20, 2011

An Order of Vision

I've been looking up words in the dictionary reading a portion of David Hart's masterpiece The Beauty of the Infinite as part of an assignment. Most of it I can't understand, but when I read a passage that I can, there are few more satisfying feelings in the world of theology. Not only because it makes me feel smart for about 15 minutes, but because the form and style of Hart's writing reflects, however vaguely, his subject matter. This is how theology ought to be practiced: with gusto and beauty.

Everything Nietzsche deplored about Christianity – its enervating compassion for life at its most debile and deformed, the Gospels’ infuriating and debased aesthetic, which finds beauty precisely where a discriminating and noble eye finds only squalor and decadence – is in fact the expression of an order of vision that cannot be confined within the canons of taste prescribed by myths of power and eminence, because it obeys the aesthetics of an infinite that surpasses every sinful ordering, every totality, as form, as indeed the form of peace: an order of vision that thematizes the infinite according to the gaze of recognition and delight, which finds in every other the glory of the transcendent other, and which cannot turn away from the other because it has learned to see in the other the beauty of the crucified. Because the God who goes to his death in the form of a slave breaks open hearts, every face becomes an icon: a beauty that is infinite. If the knowledge of the light of the glory of God is given in the face of Jesus (2 Cor. 4:6), it is knowledge that allows every other face to be seen in the light of that glory. - D.B. Hart

1 comment:

  1. Very funny about looking words up in the dictionary - you need one close by when reading Hart!

    If you haven't already, I recommend reading his article "Christ and Nothing" as a primer. It's short and relatively accessible.

    (My father also read and very much enjoyed "Atheist Delusions.")