I was looking for good advice on writing stories when I came across this:
“If a story teaches but doesn’t entertain, then it’s a sermon. If a story entertains but doesn’t teach, then it’s escapism.”
I found this to be quite strange. Not wrong—just strange. This statement views story as having to balance entertaining the audience with teaching them. A story lies somewhere on a scale between teaching and entertainment. If it strays too far to one end, then it no longer becomes a story—it becomes a sermon or escapism.
When a story becomes a sermon, it becomes a different medium of communication. The story loses its defining qualities which is definitely a bad thing. The sermon, itself, isn’t wrong. What’s wrong is the fact that the story is losing a vital part of itself.
However, it’s a little different with escapism. A story doesn’t become a totally different medium of communication when it becomes escapism, because escapism isn’t even a medium of communication. A so-called escapist story is still a story. Therefore, the bad side of escapism is escapism itself. But is escapism really that bad?
This article is the third in a three-part blog series on beauty. Click here to read the first article, Beauty and the Beholder. Click here to read the second article, Discovering the Standard of Beauty.
The first two articles in this series focused on the perception and value of aesthetic beauty. In the first article, Beauty and the Beholder, I explained why the phrase “beauty lies in the eye of the beholder” is wrong. In the second, Discovering the Standard of Beauty, I showed how God’s creation helps us realize how limited our view of beauty is. But throughout this series I’ve ignored a serious issue: the relationship between beauty and body image
When I first started this series, I did a little research to find out what other people thought of the phrase “beauty lies in the eye of the beholder.” The overwhelming majority thought the phrase was true because of the relationship between beauty and body image. Their reasoning went something like this:
This article is the second in a three-part series on beauty. Click here to read the first article, Beauty and the Beholder
In my previous article, “Beauty and the Beholder,” I said that the phrase “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is not only wrong—it’s dangerous. The phrase devalues beauty and erroneously views beauty as subjective. To counter these wrong claims, I explained how beauty is extremely valuable and how God is not only the objective judge of beauty—He is the perfect standard of beauty.
But to say that God is the perfect standard of beauty seems a bit odd. After all, God is a spirit. Forget about judging any of His aesthetic qualities—you can’t even see him. How does God epitomize beauty even though He’s invisible? In order to answer this question, we first have to address another one: what is beauty?
This article is the first in a three-part series on beauty. Click here to read the second article, Discovering the Standard of Beauty.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is a popular phrase that is widely held as being true. It’s used to defend one’s artistic choices, combat negative body image, and critique works of art. You’ve probably used it yourself at least once in your life. But despite its popularity, I believe the phrase is not only wrong—it’s dangerous.
First, what does the saying even mean? This saying claims that beauty is a subjective issue. Since everybody is entitled to their own opinion, you should agree to disagree. We shouldn’t put down another person’s view of beauty, because the judgment of beauty is subjective—not objective. It’s a polite way to avoid an argument.
So far, it all seems good. We are avoiding conflict and building up one another’s views. However, there are two reasons why this phrase is actually far more insidious than you think.
The Importance of Beauty
What does “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” actually communicate? Though you may avoid an intense argument through it, this phrase actually implies that the aesthetics of whatever you’re arguing about are on the same level as each other. It conveys that nothing is more beautiful than something else. That is a very bad position to be in. This view downgrades the importance of beauty. If everything is equally beautiful, then nothing is. Once aesthetics becomes an unimportant factor, the value of beauty is lost. And beauty is important.
Many would argue that beauty isn’t as important as, say, truth or morality. I believe we could all see how, even with a nihilistic worldview, truth gives us stability and morality gives us order (although both truth and morality go much farther than that). How truth and morality contribute to our lives gives a good indication to how important it is.
Let’s apply that to beauty. How does beauty contribute to our lives? Well, without it life would be dull and bland. However, beauty gives life more than vibrancy and color. Beauty gives us pleasure. And even though one could say we, as human beings, all want pleasure, the word “pleasure” still seems trite compared to how marvelous beauty can be. At its finest, beauty is breathtaking and awe-inspiring, full of grandeur and magnificence. Beauty gives us a sense of some divine order. Who can say beauty isn’t valuable?
So, in a sense, we should embrace that inevitable argument about what is more beautiful. Intelligent discussions about beauty are essential to keeping the issue of aesthetics alive. Because whenever you take a stand, you’re communicating that what you believe is important. And when you debate about the beauty of art or music or whatever it may be, you’re saying, “I believe beauty is a valuable thing.”
Is Beauty Subjective?
Devaluing beauty is a serious error, and the phrase “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” implies that beauty doesn’t matter. However, I believe the entire statement is wrong—not just its implications. I believe beauty itself is not subjective.
First of all, nobody believes beauty is totally subjective. Claiming “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” is grander than Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is absurd. Arguing for the Mona Lisa to be taken away and replaced with a five-year-old’s scribbles is a ridiculous request. Replacing a gorgeous skyline with a stinking trash heap won’t go over well at all.
However, just that has happened in the art world. Because of adopting the viewpoint that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” examples of modern works of “art” include a single line of white across a blue canvas, splotches of randomly tossed paint, and a white square over a white background. Even worse is the acceptance of performance art in which people perform bizarre acts to make an audacious statement. When looking at what is now deemed art, you cannot help but say that one’s concept of beauty has been distorted.
The examples above are dealing with the far ends of the spectrum. But even if two works of art are close in quality, we still shouldn’t resort to a relativistic point of view. Striving to discern which one is better will help maintain a standard of excellence. We, as a society, will not lose our ability to create and appreciate the beautiful. But there is also a greater reason for defending the objectivity of beauty.
The Purpose of Beauty
When you use a secular worldview, beauty should still be judged objectively because our standard of beauty will regress if viewed subjectively. The only thing at risk is society’s criteria for what is beautiful and what isn’t. This is still an honorable goal. We should aim for objectivity when judging beauty, because we need that objective standard.
However, for the Christian, this battle is even more important, because beauty isn’t just something that makes us happy and fills us with awe. It makes us aware of the divine. Beauty in this world points us to the beauty of God. When we gaze upon the splendor of nature, we marvel at God. Even the works of man should lead us to glorify the ultimate Creator. Beauty grabs our attention and turns our faces toward something greater than ourselves.
With this point in mind, how can we claim that beauty is subjective? If God deems something ugly and we see it as beautiful, how can we argue against him? If beauty is meant to reflect God’s beauty, then we should be willing to let God declare what is beautiful—not us. He is the only objective judge, and He is the perfect standard of beauty. Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder. Beauty is in the eye of the one and only Beholder.
This article is the first in a three-part series on beauty. Click here to read the second article, Discovering the Standard of Beauty.
I totally hate fitness. Okay, not really. I just hate writing about fitness. For me, fitness is something I do. Not something I write about.
Every storyteller fears it. Everyone is frustrated with it. Nobody likes it. What is it? Clichés.
When a storyteller pours his heart and soul into a story agonizing over every plot point and character flaw, the worst thing you can say to him is “that’s so clichéd.” Upon hearing these words, the storyteller drops into a haze as he wonders how his “completely original” idea can be considered cliché. The fear of including something clichéd in a story is a fear every author can relate to.
There’s a lot of evil in this world. I don’t need to list any examples. You’re probably already making a list in your own mind. And that list can go on and on and on.
With that list in your mind, answer this question: How do you respond to these evils? Let’s make it a bit broader. How do most Christians respond to the evils of the world?
Well, if you’re part of Westboro Baptist Church, you protest . . . like crazy. But keep in mind that protesting isn’t limited to actual picketing. You can protest through social media or when you’re in a public discussion. Taking this into account, Christians seem to be protesting more and more. Whether you like it or not, this surge in protesters has created an impact you cannot deny.
But brazen outspokenness isn’t the only response. Some Christians tend to take a more spiritual approach: prayer. This method is also powerful. Scripture speaks of the power of prayer. Perhaps the best known quotation is “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” You cannot deny Bible truth. Prayer is a powerful approach.
Still, some see prayer as empty words. They say, “Sure, you can pray all you want, but you should put feet to your prayers. God wants Christians to act.” So they do. Donating large amounts of money to aid charitable causes. Volunteering to help the poor and needy. Anything to make their prayers a reality. This approach is also biblical for God commanded His people to help those in need. The sad truth is many Christians do not follow this command.
Taking these three general responses together, we can see that Christians have an overriding desire for one thing: to change the world. And that’s a good thing. Christians should be fighting the evils of this world head on whether it be through protesting, prayer, or actively helping. All Christians should have a desire to change the world. To put it in melodramatic terms, we should want to save the world.
Wait. Save the world? Hasn’t that already happened?
As a matter of fact, it has. And that’s why we have been wrong this whole time.
John 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved
God sent Jesus Christ to save the world. And He did. Jesus died and rose again to save the whole world. But many Christians, myself included, sometimes act like he didn’t come to save the world.
We want to repel the world’s evils through protesting or prayer or actively helping. But that won’t make a true difference, for only the gospel can repel the world’s evils. For only Jesus can save the world.
That’s not to say that any of our initial responses are bad. I don’t see a problem with prayer or volunteering or protesting (in moderation). But should Christians really be primarily known as prayer warriors or great volunteers or annoying protesters? Shouldn’t we be known as messengers of the Gospel?
Next time you get worried about the progressing evils of the world or you’re really pumped up to change the world, don’t let your mind go directly to something like protesting. Remember that Jesus has already saved the world.
So share the good news with others. Never forget that the gospel—the whole gospel from original sin to final restoration—is the power of God. We Christians have a divine weapon to use against the evils of the world, for the gospel truly is quick and powerful. But we have to use it. Share the gospel just as Christ commanded, and who knows? We just might change the world.
Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen
I hate running. To me, it doesn’t even classify as an exercise. Exercising equals weight lifting, calisthenics, or interval training.
Exercising is blood pumping through your muscles and your heart drumming a ridiculously fast beat. Not that side-stab inducing activity called running. I mean, who wants to do a forty-five minute activity where all you do is feel a slow-burn in your lower body while unleashing rivers of sweat?
But despite all my hate for running, I can’t deny its benefits. So here are the top four reasons why I am taking up running.
Biohax, a Swedish company, has invented a revolutionary new technology. A chip inserted under your skin can act as a key, credit card, and health monitor—basically the ultimate ID.
This is a sign of the end times, for the Antichrist will utilize this technology for the Mark of the Beast
North Korea has reportedly completed the hardest part in the creation of an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile: making a bomb light enough to fit on a missile without weighing it down too much. This new development has produced a standoff between North Korea and the US and its allies of Japan and South Korea setting up a modern-day Cold War.
This is also a sign of the end times, for Jesus Christ said that in the end there would be wars and rumors of wars.
I have. You have. All authors have looked at the computer screen like the stick figure man above. It may be the characters, plot, pacing, or even the premise. No matter what the cause is, we have all, at one point or another, been frustrated with how our story is progressing.
Most of the time we're overreacting, but in one case, our actions may be justifiable. That time would be when the problem is related with the climactic moment.
Why the climactic moment?
Simply because, it's the most important moment in an entire story. It's the culmination of all the events in your story. The most exciting--the most thrilling--the most intense moment. The grand finale.
The climactic moment is the most anticipated event in your whole story. You cannot mess up on this one. Doing so would destroy just about everything that happened before. And since the climactic moment is, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, located at the end of your story, a bad climactic moment will ruin your entire story.
Unfortunately, many stories do mess up the climactic moment. Though there are many things that could go wrong, the problems can normally be filtered into two categories.