Stratford Caldecott’s 160-page new book Beauty in the Word has proven difficult for me to finish, and I mean that as a sincere compliment.
There are, we generally believe, “math people” and “non-math people” – or to put a finer point on it, there are math people and there are “humanities people”. The math people enjoy equations, technology, pocket protectors, and comic book conventions. The humanities people attend Renaissance festivals, enjoy Shakespearean insults, despise popular books, and often lurk in coffeehouses. At least, those are a few of the stereotypes.
“Midway upon the journey of our life I found myself within a forest dark, for the straightforward pathway had been lost.” Dante’s Divine Comedy opens hauntingly with good reason - the poet had received a death sentence in his home city, Florence, and was faced with execution or exile. When we understand this, his opening words could be deemed an understatement.
“Our situation today shows that beauty demands for itself at least as much courage and decision as do truth and goodness, and she will not allow herself to be separated and banned from her two sisters without taking them along with herself in an act of mysterious vengeance. We can be sure that whoever sneers at her name as if she were the ornament of a bourgeois past…can no longer pray and soon will no longer be able to love.”
- Hans Urs von Balthasar
“Ethos is the in articulate expression of what the community values. It includes the quality of relationships within the school, the traditions, the professional comportment, the approach to classroom management, the out-of-class decorum, the aesthetic personality of the school reflected in the student and faculty dress codes, the visual and auditory imagery, and the physical plant itself…Ethos is the way in which the school expresses (or doesn’t) truth, goodness, and beauty through the experiences of every person who enters our halls.”