Two Opposing Narratives of Infinity: The Deep Magic of Violence vs. the Deeper Magic of Beauty

majestic-lionThere are essentially two opposing narratives of infinity.

The first narrative believes that violence is at the foundation of not only every institution but of creation itself. From this viewpoint there is a primordial and inevitable violence that birthed sin and death. We could not help but fall and now we are creatures whose hearts are held in bondage to sin and violence holds sway over our hearts and minds and therefore over our history and our future.

The second narrative believes that within history a way of reconciliation has opened up that leads beyond, and ultimately overcomes, all violence. “Christian thought has held from the first that in a world in bondage to sin, where violence holds sway over our hearts and history, the peace of God made present in Christ is unique; the way, the truth and the life that alone can liberate the world from the tyranny of greed, cruelty, egoism, and aggression is none other than a particular Nazarene rabbi put to death under Pontius Pilate.” This quote and most of this reflection is from the introduction to “The Beauty of the Infinite: The Aesthetics of Christian Truth.” By David Bentley Hart.

The Peace of God is like the deeper magic found in the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. The White Witch (Satan) knew the deep magic, which is the first narrative, that “every traitor belongs to me.” As Aslan (Christ) himself says in “The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe,” “that though the Witch knew the deep magic, there is a magic deeper (second narrative) still which she did not know… Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of Time… But if she could have looked back before the dawn of time she would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.” What is the second narrative? Maybe that is the wrong question. The better question is, Who is the second narrative? The peace of God is a particular rabbi from Nazareth.

In a world of violence, power, riches and seduction, Jesus Christ is the game changer. Christianity has no stake in arguments for the faith. We only proclaim the broken body and shed blood of Jesus Christ for the life of the world and for its salvation. What violence sought to ruin – Jesus, who is Peace and Love, shows that beauty was before the violence. There is not the least shadow of violence in Jesus Christ and the loveliness of the Gospel.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Two Opposing Narratives of Infinity: The Deep Magic of Violence vs. the Deeper Magic of Beauty

  1. Lenore Wilkison

    David Bentley Hart writes as an artist, and while there is great truth in the “Who” as the 2nd narrative, there are more than two narratives. The dichotomy he portrays is artistic. Meanwhile, some believe the world rides on the back of a turtle.

    • Fr. James Coles

      The two narratives are Hart’s but I took it a tiny step further by saying that the second narrative is a “who.” Lenore, I think you are correct that Hart’s theology is artistic because from my way of seeing things pure art and theology share the same goal of showing reality as it is. And, as my spiritual father likes to say, art and theology are both about drawing lines. Tomorrow’s post will show this dichotomy of the 2 narratives from St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians.

  2. Brian

    Great thoughts Father James!

    I believe Dostoevsky wrote, “Beauty will save the world,” or words to that effect.

    And in St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians (4:8) he advised:

    “Finally, bretheren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things.”

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