Thursday, June 25, 2015

Inner Beauty?

It could very well be that you are not beautiful.

In the time and place where I live, large eyes + high cheekbones + small nose + full lips = beauty. More or less. If you don't have this equation, it's possible that you are not beautiful. At least by the prevailing American definition.

Well, let's talk about your inner beauty. Eye roll. Some of you are thinking, Inner Beauty is what people gush about to make you feel better if you are not outwardly beautiful.

But what is inner beauty anyway? How is it defined? If a person is kind, loyal, funny, and trustworthy, does that make her beautiful? I don't think so. That makes her behavior beautiful. What if she's mean, bitter and unfaithful? That's ugly behavior, but it does not make her spirit -- her self -- ugly.

Bad behavior has no effect on your worth. A person has value because she or he is made in God's image. That's it. What you do matters, but behavior has no effect on the worth of your soul.

It's safe to say that anything created by God is beautiful. So welcome to the Beautiful People Club. Where high cheekbones are welcome and kindness is encouraged, but neither is a requirement for membership.

Thursday, June 4, 2015


"I have five. Do I hear six hundred? Seven hundred dollars? Do I hear eight?"
The auctioneer asked for higher and higher bids, and my hopes of buying the mirrors slipped away.

At an art auction I had found a set of old mirrors. That's a photo of them. That's the shiny, reflective side you're looking at. Not too clear? That's what happens to mirrors that are 2,000 years old. They were fashioned in China and Korea, and some of them were made as early as 200 B.C. What did they look like when they were brand new? Even the shiniest metal gives a poor reflection compared to today's mirrors. 

My bathroom mirror gives a crystal-clear image, but it's reversed. If I touch my right ear, my reflection touches her left ear. The image is perfectly accurate but completely backward. When I look at my reflection through the lens of over forty years of cultural messages and propaganda, my thinking is often backward because I believe that parts of my body are ugly.

But our bodies are amazing. Especially in youth, they function beautifully. Blood is oxygenated and cleaned. Nerve cells send signals to the brain that are interpreted and acted upon at lightning speed. The brain stem tells my heart to beat so that my frontal cortex is free to think about theology or how to get out of cooking supper tonight.  But the culture says that this amazing body that runs and sings and eats is not good enough.

The culture is like a corroded, two thousand year old mirror. It shows you a distorted image. It's not the real you. An ancient mirror may go for over $1,000 at auction. But the real you is priceless.