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The Beauty of Truth

Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know. 

When I was a high school sophomore, these closing lines of John Keats’s “Ode to a Grecian Urn” unlocked in me something that I had not been able to voice previously: a longing that C. S. Lewis called Sensucht. I was skeptical about the second half of the quote—I was pretty sure I needed to know more than that—but the identity of beauty and truth was an epiphany. In retrospect, a Romantic poem was an unlikely guide on my journey to Catholicism, but it was my first introduction to philosophy.

Truth always has its own beauty, but in this fallen world that beauty is often obscured. The work of apologetics and evangelization is to reveal how beautiful the truth is so that people will love it. The beauty of the truth can be revealed in art and music—or can be obscured by them. Indeed, a few readers told us in the survey that our artwork in This Rock sometimes detracted from rather than added to the message. I have to concur. Stock art, after all, is made for secular publications. For example, we wanted a photo of a large family to go with Mark Lowery’s article in this issue. A search for “family” on numerous sites returned photos of one or two perfectly groomed parents with one or two children. A search for “large family” yielded the addition of a golden retriever. So, we’re moving away from using stock art and will try to use religious fine art when it’s not prohibitively expensive. Beauty’s not cheap.

But there’s another way to reveal the beauty of truth, and that is through words—being able to explain why we believe. On page XX, J. Budziszewski does a great job of arming us with the words we need to fight the “toleration police.” He is a philosopher who has been a mighty advocate for natural-law theory for many years. He was recently received into the Catholic Church. That’s where an honest search for truth leads.

Converts tend to be better at explaining their beliefs because we have to work through a number of objections on the path to the Church. But cradle Catholics are not off the hook: “Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3:15). This Rock exists to help you “always be prepared.” On every page, we explain the reasons for hope—the truth about our salvation. That is why I chose to call this column “Reasons for Hope.”

By the way, if you’re looking for Karl Keating’s column, don’t worry. It isn’t gone; it just moved to page 48. He always has the last word around here, so we gave him Last Writes.

For more about changes to the magazine, see page 1.

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