Angle 1: something is beautiful because it is truthful. The words or ideas it uses resonate with reality, and we recognise and enjoy that.
Angle 2: something is beautiful because it affects or moves us, perhaps with delight, often with sadness, and occasionally with pity. Other emotions are all in this angle too.
Angle 3: something is beautiful because it works, with an elegance whether delightfully simple or engagingly convoluted.
Some things we create only sit at angle 1. A computer manual, for example. A sculpture might sit in angle 2. And a wonderful piece of architecture at angle 3.
But, but, but – a number of the things we make occupy more than one angle. A beautiful poem probably sits in angles 1 and 2, truthful and artfully constructed.
//Warning, geek alert//
Or take the perennial Mac vs. PC debate (quiet, Linux). Both Macs and more generic computers sit in Angle 3, and many in Angle 2 as well. Apple’s software has always been aimed at both angles, and Microsoft is trying hard to do the same.
But here’s the thing. What Apple has done is to try to make software and hardware a seamless unit and therefore the whole experience sits at Angles 2 and 3. That may be why Mac users (yup, me) might pay a higher price for a walled garden – because the total experience sits in two angles. Does Surface achieve the same end?
//Warning, gospel alert//
I’ve suggested that the gospel is grounded in all three angles, because each is an aspect of Christ’s work as our truthful prophet, gorgeous priest and effective king. If that’s right, it means Christians are in a unique position of being able to explain beauty. And if that’s right, it’s because nothing is as beautiful as the gospel, the most truthful, entrancing and efficient work of God there will ever be. Has that caught your heart and imagination yet?
One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. (Ps. 27:4)
To think it through.
Does your church live in all three angles, or just in two – or even one?
Is there any human object which manages to sit in all three angles?