Timothy WillardComment

Timothy WillardComment

An apologetics of beauty, on the other hand, appeals to the human person’s innate sense of the universal, the mysterious, the numinous – a sense that is pre-rational or, perhaps, super-rational, and which can be reached, I believe, more directly – bypassing the skeptical intellect.

Especially in contexts where relativism may rule the day and where people may not be responsive to appeals to truth or moral goodness, I am convinced they can nevertheless be engaged by the power of beauty. And it is in this light that I see my work as a composer: I practice an apologetics of beauty.

A consensus on what defines beauty can be hard to come by – and perhaps especially in a discussion among artists. The concept of beauty that I propose here is very much like what C.S. Lewis described in his essay, “The Weight of Glory”. He asserts that the primary feeling aroused by beauty is not pleasure, but longing: “the books or the music in which we thought beauty was located will betray us if we trust in them. It was not in them, it only came through them; and what came through them was longing.”

Therefore when I speak of beauty, it is in these two senses:

1. That which arouses in the beholder a longing for the transcendent; that which serves as a bridge from the material to the spiritual world to unite us to the transcendent.

2. That work of art which possesses attributes of harmony, integrity, proportion and clarity appropriate to its subject.

A sensitivity to these attributes in relation to the subject of the artwork directly influences – more than anything else – whether a particular work will successfully serve as that bridge from the material world to the spiritual world that Lewis describes. In the case at hand, by “subject”, I mean the text to be set to music and all that this text entails.

The Apologetics of Beauty | Music and the Sacred

Timothy Willard loves to sit with his wife by the bonfire and make up stories about Tom the Backyard-Badger for his three lovely daughters. When he's not carving up the Appalachian Mountains on his Salsa El Mariachi, you can find him busy writing a book, collaborating on a book, or reading a book written by someone dead and gone. Timothy studied beauty in the works of C.S. Lewis under theologian Alister McGrath. The author of five books, including Veneer: Living Deeply in a Surface Society (Zondervan), Timothy is currently finishing The Life-Changing Adventure of Chasing Beauty (Eerdmans, 2019), preparing his doctoral thesis for publication, and trying to find a publisher for his first novel The Tempest and the Bloom. He lives somewhere in the south Charlotte woods.