IN-FORMARSE

Revista de In-formación y cultura humanística / Junio de 2015, Año XIII no. 51

I

51

BEAUTY
IN
TRAGEDY
Where It Comes From, Where it Leads
BELLEZA DEL MUNDO Y LA
TRASCENDENCIA
Según algunos escritores antiguos
LA BELLEZA Y LOS MEDIOS
DE COMUNICACIÓN
Una mirada a la actualidad

S UMARIO
IN- FORMARSE | No. 51

ARTÍCULOS

En portada:
CATEDRAL DE LEÓN,
ESPAÑA

03 Beauty in Tragedy

Where It Comes From, Where It Leads. BY ERIC GILHOOLY, L.C.
_________________________________________________________________________________________

Equipo de trabajo

06 Beauty, Evangelization of Culture, and the
humanities

The Mission of the Legion. BY TIMOTHY KEARNS
________________________________________________________________________________________

10 Traducción: acerca de los principios

Poemas de san Gregorio Nacianceno. POR LOUIS DESCLÈVES, L.C
_________________________________________________________________________________________

11 Masculinity and Beauty

The Hazard of an Achilles Heel. BY JONATHAN FLEMINGS, L.C.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

14 La belleza

Al tiempo de las redes sociales. POR JORGE ENRIQUE MÚJICA, L.C.
_________________________________________________________________________________________

Coordinador: LUIS F. HERNÁNDEZ, L.C.
Diseñador / Editor: MARIO SANDOVAL, L.C.
Asistente de diseño: CARLOS RUÍZ, L.C.
_____________________________________

Revisores:
ISMAEL GONZÁLEZ, L. C.
JONATHAN FLEMINGS, L. C.
____________________________________

Colaboradores:
LOUIS DESCLÈVES, L.C. (México)
TIMOTHY KEARNS (Estados Unidos)
ERIC GILHOOLY, L.C. (Italia)
JONATHAN FLEMINGS, L.C. (Italia)
JORGE ENRIQUE MÚJICA, L.C. (Italia)
LUIS F. HERNÁNDEZ, L.C. (Italia)

16 La belleza del mundo y la trascendencia

El creyente delante del universo. POR LUIS F. HERNÁNDEZ, L.C.

IN- FORMARSE / 02

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Sector Clásico

The fury of achilles, Charles-Antoine Coypel, Hermitage Museum

B e au t y i n T r ag e dy
Where It Comes From, Where It Leads

By

Eric Gilhooly, L. C.

If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart
Absent thee from felicity awhile,
And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain,
To tell my story

T

—Shakespeare, Hamlet

ragedy in all ages bears witness to the value of suffering and
to its captivating beauty. Hamlet dies, and we are uplifted.
Camelot is lost, yet something inside us grows. Why do
we find tragedy beautiful and yet our own suffering so senseless?

IN- FORMARSE / 03

hints at: meaning beyond the story, beyond chaos. We
are sorrowful not because “that’s life”, but because
we know deep down that it’s NOT life—it shouldn’t
be that way. An injustice has been committed.

Hamlet and Horatio Before the Grave Diggers, Eugène Delacroix, Brooklyn Museum

According to Aristotle in his Poetics (cf. ch.13), tragedy is meant to cause a catharsis, or a purification,
of our pity and our fear. Aristotle says that tragedy’s beauty lies in its fitting within an order and
following specific rules. By learning how to integrate our passions properly, we too can live a life
more harmonious with the world and with others.
Aristotle holds tragedy to be more beautiful than
life (cf. Poetics, ch.25), but maybe by perceiving order in a tragedy, we should try to piece together our own lives, to find some kind of order, some
kind of greater meaning. While disagreeing with
Aristotle that tragedy could be more beautiful
than our lives, it is definitely easier to understand.
The greatest tragedies are beautiful because they
cause a longing to well up within us: “the story” isn’t
enough—for the characters or for us. And while
its beauty reveals to us a great depth of truth, it insists that there must be something more, something
greater, an order in the mystery. Tragedy is beautiful because it paints us a life-picture that resonates:
“Yes, that’s exactly how it is,” we say. But the “that”
is not only the tragedy itself, but what the tragedy

IN- FORMARSE / 04

So the beauty of tragedy is in finding a certain order and meaning, a blueprint that tries makes sense
of the senseless in our own lives. Yet where does
the meaning, the purpose, the beauty come from?
How can beauty be found in sorrow, joy in suffering?
Tolkien tells us that the music of creation, “runs
through all the veins of the world in sorrow and in
joy; for if joyful is the fountain that rises in the sun,
its springs are in the wells of sorrow unfathomed
at the foundations of the Earth.” (J.R.R. Tolkien,
The Silmarillion, Ch.1, “Of the Beginning of Days”)
Human life overflows with joy and sorrow—it’s
part of who we are. And to deny the sorrow or to
try and choke it off is to deny our very selves. For
if we wish to experience the greatest joys in life, we
must accept the greatest sorrows alongside them. Yet
we cannot have the one without the other, for both
lead to beauty. This was a choice Sheldon Vanauken
saw clearly, long before any tragedy entered his life:

…great joy through love always seemed to go hand in
hand with frightful pain. Still, he thought…, the joy would be
worth the pain—if indeed they went together. If there were a
choice– and he suspected there was– a choice between, on the one
hand, the heights and the depths and, on the other hand, some sort
of safe, cautious middle way, he, for one, here and now chose the
heights and the depths. (S. Vanauken, A Severe Mercy, p.10)

So where’s the great joy necessary for beauty in tragedy (and in our lives): to complete,
counter-balance, and redeem the sorrow? “Pure”
tra-gedy is meaningless, an incomplete sentence.
At this stage in our reflection, we can (and should) apply Tolkien’s concept of myth
and fairy stories. The
key to all tragedy is
found in Christian revelation,
in the Christian
Story which
leads
to
the cross.
The tragedy
of
tragedies:
that
when

God himself took flesh and entered into history
(His-Story), we rejected him and crucified him. The
greatest, purest, most eloquent figure ever to take
center stage is cut off in mid-sentence. Or is he?
Before the wildly desperate questioning of Job, God
knew logic wasn’t enough. His answer to Job was
no answer but Himself. The answer to suffering,
to the tragedy of human existence, is the cross:

The summit, the archetype of beauty manifests itself in
the face of the Son of Man crucified on the Cross of sorrows,
Revelation of infinite love of God who, in His mercy for His
creatures, restores beauty lost with original sin. “Beauty will save
the world,” because this beauty is Christ, the only beauty that defies evil, and triumphs over death. By love, the “most beautiful
of the children of men” became “the man of sorrows”, “without beauty, without majesty no looks to attract our eyes” (Is,
53, 2) and so he rendered to man, to each and every man the
fullness of His beauty, His dignity and His true grandeur. In
Christ, and only in Him, our via crucis is transformed into His
in the via lucis and the via pulchritudinis. (The Pontifical

Council for Culture, Via Pulchritudinis, Conclusion)

This Story shares its truth with all stories,
tragedy included. The Cross, silently, speaks with
unspeakable words and expresses God’s love for us
better than any other miracle or sermon. We find a
beauty that lifts us over and above the deepest ugliness. The Christ-story completes and gives meaning
to all stories, whether written or lived. “The Christian joy, the Gloria, … it is preeminently (infinitely,
if our capacity were not finite) high and joyous. But
this story is supreme; and it is true. Art has been
verified. ... Legend and History have met and fused.”
(J.R.R. Tolkien, “On Fairy Stories”, Conclusion)
In A Severe Mercy, Sheldon Vanauken tells of his
real-life tragedy, when his perfect marriage is first
disrupted by their conversion to Christianity, and
then shattered by his wife’s premature death from a
grueling liver virus. He doesn’t hide the questioning,
doesn’t hide the sorrow. Yet he is able to read between the lines of his personal tragedy, given meaning
through Christ, and his story becomes one not of despair, but of redemption: for him and for the reader.
“[In Christ’s] Face that is so disfigured, there appears
genuine, extreme beauty: the beauty of love that

Hamlet, Act IV, Scene V (Ophelia Before the King and Queen), BenjaminWest,
Cincinnati Art Mueum

goes ‘to the very end’; for this reason it is revealed as
greater than falsehood and violence.” (J. Ratzinger,
2002 Rimini Address) Tragedy receives beauty from
the Passion precisely by receiving hope. Hope in
grace and in resurrection. Tragedy is transformed
into triumph. Its beauty tells us more of who we are
and hints at the Answer beyond this valley of tears.

Bibliography
Aristotle, Aristotle’s Poetics, S.H. BUTCHER (tr.), Hill
and Wang, New York 1961.
H. Carpenter, The Inklings: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien,
Charles Williams and Their Friends, Houghton Mifflin,
Boston 1979 (esp. 42-45).
J. Ratzinger, “The Feeling of Things, the Contemplation of Beauty”, Rimini 2002.
The Pontifical Council for Culture, Via Pulchritudinis,
2009.
J.R.R. Tolkien, “On Fairy Stories”, in Tree and Leaf,
Harper Collins, 2001. The Silmarillion, Ballantine Books,
New York 2002.
S. Vanauken, A Severe Mercy, Hodder and Stoughton,
London 2011.

IN- FORMARSE / 05

By

Timothy Kearns

A

T h e

M i s s i o n

o f

t h e

L e g i o n :

Beauty,
Evangelization of Culture,
and the Humanities

succinct way to put the mission of the
Legionaries of Christ is this: to send
out to the world priests who can both
evangelize culture and form others to do the same.

But what does evangelization of culture mean?
St. John Paul II defined culture as a shared way of
life of a given community (See R. J. Staudt, “Culture in the Magisterium of John Paul II”, Claritas 3.1
(March 2014), 52-65). Straightforwardly, then, evangelization of culture means evangelizing the shared
way of life of a given community. Now, a “way of
life” is a very practical thing. Perhaps the Pontiff,
being a philosopher himself, had in mind the (then)
recent work by Pierre Hadot, Qu’est-ce que la philosophie antique? (Paris: Gallimard, 1995) in which Hadot
argued that ancient philosophy was never just a set
of doctrines or answers to theoretical questions; it
was always a way of living out a human life together with others: from Pythagoras in his school to So
crates in the agora to Aristotle in the Lyceum. Nor
could a search for wisdom really be anything else:
even contemporary usage does not deploy the term
“wisdom” only or primarily for abstract theoretical
knowledge or answers to non-practical questions.

in that community is what enables him or her truly
to live out that life in the best way possible. Indeed,
the practices of a culture are defined by those actions that are the best; so, in so far as a culture aims at
what is truly good, it is wisdom that, in the practical
as prudentia and in the theoretical as sapientia, defines
the various aspects of that way of life itself and wisdom also that leads us to criticize the ways that culture is not aimed at the good. A shared way of life,
then, in so far as it is good, is derived from wisdom.
How
can
cal life of

we
describe
the
the person who lives

One thing is clear in general: the person who lives
the common life of his people in the best way lives
a life that is beautiful in all aspects. For many plain

Wisdom is a matter of a whole life, then as now.
If culture is the shared way of life of a given community, one can see that wisdom for a given person
The Sainte-Chapelle, Paris

IN- FORMARSE / 06

practiwisely?

people living ordinary lives, this means living in
simple and beautiful ways: such people are and
have good friends, they dress well, live in as beautiful homes as are fitting (and possible) for them,
they care for their possessions, they clean and
keep clean, they beautify their surroundings, they
may contribute to the arts in their time and place,
they foster parish life, care for the poor, visit the
sick and aged, they develop their own talents and
help others realize their potential too, and they
try as much as is right for them to influence the
political life of their community for the best.
II
But this picture has only to be drawn for us to
see at once the problem of our own day: wisdom and beauty are both very hard to find.

Thomas Hobbes, John M. Wright, National Portrait Gallery, Londres

And this seems to be precisely what the evangelization of culture is meant to address. In a way,
every religious order in the Church has evangelization of some aspect of our shared way of
life as part of its specific task. But many of the
more active orders focus on clear problems like
education, poverty, care for the elderly, nursing,
etc. And, in a largely Christian world, these are

some of the most important social problems facing
the Church. We are not, however, any longer living
in a Christian world. Pope John Paul perceived this,
and his response was to call for the evangelization
of culture. Since he meant culture as a shared way of
life, and since he knew well the missions of most religious orders, we can see that he meant specifically that
what needs to be evangelized now in a special way are
those aspects of our shared way of life that have been
turned away from (or never pointed toward) the truth
of the Christian faith and the beauty of the Christian life; this is because every account of the good life
implies a sociology. Such evangelizing includes everything from art to clothing, from holiday celebrations
to social life, from public spaces to architecture of
churches, shops, homes, and businesses; of particular
importance here are those aspects of our culture that
are more shared than others, e.g. families, friendships,
organizations, public spaces, work, and celebrations.
This kind of change of culture requires not just religious orders and dioceses that can host their own
events or build their own institutions, but it also entails
that there be a concerted effort to form leaders who
can effect change in their own lives and in the lives of
their communities. For a reform of our shared way
of life, we need leaders who are apostles of the ordinary.

IN- FORMARSE / 07

The Cardinal and Theological Virtues, Raphael, Stanza della Segnatura, Vaticano

This is the mission of the Legionaries of
Christ, an urgent mission for a darkening time.
III
And this mission may be the most difficult mission
of all: culture cannot simply be reformed through
policy changes and initiatives; the people whose
culture it is must want to reform it. And the only
way they can want to reform their culture is if they
perceive clearly that their way of life is in need of
reform and that the reforms proposed are actually good. If people do not think their way of life
needs change, or if they do not think the changes
proposed are good, they will not want to change
and will not be able to see why they should change.
This in itself should cause us concern. Can we
actually change minds on the most fundamental questions of how we should live together?
That is a hard question to face. But let’s assume
that we can do so, somehow, through the work
of the Spirit---all things are possible with God.
Exactly how we can do it, though, is an equally
hard question. If we can change culture and change
minds on such important questions, the only possible way is through evangelizers who, in addition
to a knowledge of the faith and fervor to change
the world, have a thorough knowledge of contemporary life and of the values that contemporary
life encodes and which underlie that life. One cannot adequately evangelize people whose views and
the way of life derived from those views one does
not understand. But, even more than this, the reason that evangelizers must understand the views
and life of contemporary culture is chiefly that those
evangelizers are themselves participants in contemporary culture and with it they themselves share at least some
of those ways of life that need to be evangelized.

IN- FORMARSE / 08

So, apostles must first understand and evangelize
what is a key part of themselves. At every age, Christ
calls us to conversion, a continual conversion, a
conversion of belief, habits, manner of life, political institutions, of everything. If evangelizers do
not seek such an understanding of themselves and
conversion for themselves and their own way of
life, they are simply blind guides leading the blind.
But what is entailed in coming to understand a person’s views and his or her way of life, even if that
person is oneself ? What, in fact, is understanding
in such a case? Understanding here is a knowledge of the causes of those views and the causes
of the life related to and derived from those views,
as well as a knowledge of the truth of the various
matters. One needs a knowledge, then, of where
those views and this life came from. Such knowledge of the causes of views and ways of life is not
primarily a matter of knowledge only within the
contemporary academic discipline of philosophy
or theology; it is a knowledge of how the human
past and present have been shaped by the pursuit
of goodness and truth in every aspect of human
life and how those pursuits manifest in one’s own
life and the shared way of life of one’s community; hence, the necessity of a study of man informed
by the right account of human nature and its place.
Men and women live out their lives seeking good
things, but ordinary people generally do not realize that these practical goods and their way of life
are both derived from implied accounts of goodness and truth. Philosophy and theology as pursuit
of good and the highest end of human beings are
not abstract disciplines, but are found at the heart
of every decision a person makes and at the heart
of every human institution, indeed, of everything
that can be called human at all. It is this pursuit of
truth and goodness innate in human beings that

unifies all aspects of human life. But most people
do not recognize this. Because of that, apostles
need to pay particular attention to how accounts
of goodness and truth underlie all aspects of human life (cf. St. Paul in Acts 17 at the Areopagus
in Athens). Thus they need a knowledge of human
culture and its history, human goods and how the
pursuit of those goods has influenced human life.
But this knowledge is not of the same kind as
knowledge that a secular educated person would
have of the same subjects. First, it is built upon
the Catholic understanding of man and nature and
is thus an understanding that integrates the best
accounts of the various subjects into the Catholic framework. (It also helps us to refine that very
understanding; there are still questions that need
better answers, still problems that need to be
solved.) Second, such an education is equally both
a matter of specific content and a matter of inculcating a real love of learning and a knowledge
of how to learn. Third, every aspect of such an
education focuses both on the relevant subject
matter and on how that subject matter is connected
in a real way to the larger world; this is the genuine
knowledge of causes. On this point, students must
take the active role because only by understanding
for themselves the various causes will they come to a
true understanding that will remain with them and
to a real love of learning that will sustain them.

Carved panel from the cloisters showing Doubting Thomas,
Abbey of Santo Domingo de Silos

the shared way of life of one’s community through friendships based on and leading toward truth and goodness because those friendships foster human excellence of all kinds.
And that reveals the true place of beauty in evangelization. The first beauty is the beauty of a wise
and loving human life. Beauty in the material or social aspects of human culture is and must be built
upon truth revealed and lived out in the wise life
oriented toward God. It is those living the life of
wisdom who will help others and themselves to
realize their potential for excellence, their potential to recognize beautiful things, to make beautiful things, to do beautiful things, to live together
in beautiful ways. This is how we walk the way of
beauty, the via pulchritudinis, in bringing the world
back to God (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 167).

This is the best kind of integral formation of the intellect.
IV
But, of course, this education into human culture
is only what enables one to engage a human being
where he or she is. A true apostle is not solely concerned with narrowly intellectual problems. He or
she is primarily a friend to those he or she seeks
to evangelize, and this is a friendship that must be
based on truth. One crucial thing that friends do
for each other is help one another realize their
respective potentials for excellence. So, too must
the evangelizer. And now we can see the full weight
of what evangelization of culture means: not just
knowing philosophy and theology, not just knowing
culture, not even just knowing culture in the right
way, but chiefly evangelizing culture means transforming

Saint Paul delivering the Areopagus sermon in Athens, Raphael

IN- FORMARSE / 09

La gloria de San Ignacio,Andrea Pozzo,
Iglesia de San Ignacio (Roma).

ACERCA DE LOS PRINCIPIOS
Traducción de

Sé muy bien con cuál balsa atravesamos tan largo tramo,
o con cuán pequeñas alas hacia el cielo estrellado
nos apresuramos, nosotros a quienes el corazón mueve a alabar a la Divinidad,
a la que ni las potestades celestiales tienen la fuerza de dar culto, como se debería,
a los confines de la gran Divinidad y a su gobierno universal.

Louis Desclèves, L. C.

Moisés (Detalle),
Miguel Ángel Buonarroti

Sin embargo, ni a Dios agrada el frecuente don de llenísima mano
cuanto lo que le viene de la amiga incluso pobre.
Por ello, hablaré con atrevimiento. Pero fuera de aquí, huid, vosotros los impuros:
este discurso mío no sale sino para los puros o los purificados.
Los profanos, como fieras, mientras Cristo escribe la ley grabada en piedras para Moisés,
Sean en seguida aplastados por quebradas rocas.
Así sea de ellos. Y así como el Verbo expulsó a los malvados,
de nuestra región, al tener un corazón rebelde contra Dios.
Pero, yo pondré este grito como proemio en mis hojas,
grito que exclamaron los piadosos hombres, trayendo espanto al pueblo cruel,
Moisés e Isaías, testigos de los mandatos (hablo a los entendidos),
ciertamente, éste dando la ley recién plasmada, el otro, de la quebrantada:
que el Cielo escuche; que la tierra acoja mis palabras.
Espíritu de Dios, tú, despiértame la mente así como la lengua,
trompeta de verdad resonante,
que todos gocen en su ánimo en la Trinidad entera injertados.
Un solo Dios hay sin principio, no causado, no circunscrito
sea por algo que fuera de antemano,
o que llegaría a ser a continuación,
poseyendo todo la eternidad y sin confines, del Hijo valeroso,
Unigénito grande, el Padre grande, sin nada padecer
por el Hijo, de lo carnal, pues es mente.

El Moisés de Miguel Ángel

Un solo Dios otro,
No otro en divinidad, de Dios el Verbo, éste, de Aquel,
Paterno sello impreso, hijo del Sin Principio,
Único, y del Único uniquísimo, igual de Todopoderoso.

Escultura en mármol realizada en el
año 1509 por petición del Papa Julio II.

Como éste quedaría progénitor todo entero, tanto aquel Hijo
Regidor del universo y Pastor, del Padre Fuerza y Pensamiento.
Un Espíritu del Excelente Dios, Dios. Atrás todos,
los que el Espíritu no marcó para proclamar su divinidad,
sino que son abismo de maldad o lengua impura
seudoluminosos, envidiosos, pensadores
autoproclamados, fuente oculta,
candelabro en recodos oscuros.
Acerca de los principios,
Poemas dogmáticos I, 1,1
san Gregorio Nacienceno

IN- FORMARSE / 10

Originariamente concebida para la tumba
del Pontífice en la Basílica de San Pedro;
aunque, más tarde, la tumba y el Moisés fueron
colocados en la Iglesia menor de San Pietro
in Vincoli, donde actualmente se encuentra.

Apollo and Daphne, Louvre Museum, Paris

Masculinity and Beauty

W

By

Jhonatan Flemings, L. C.

hen I was a kid, we did not have a
television. Weekly entertainment
consisted in walking the twenty
minutes down to the local public library with my older sister. A book
worm by the age of nine, she quickly infected
me with the disease. Our ersatz TV and video
games consisted in a backpack full of books every week or so, most of them selected by her.
The only down side from my perspective was
that the crowd of protagonists I encountered
in my childhood was mostly made up of precocious girls who regularly outsmarted their somewhat pathetic male counterparts in whatever the
child fiction selection of the week happened to
be. Every once in a while I found a book on my
own about a boy and his dog, but she generally
found more interesting stories, so I grew accustomed to heroines. There is nothing wrong with
heroines—in fact, I look up to quite a few of
them—but we also need masculine role models.

Contemporary western society’s crisis of masculinity, if not universally recognized, is at least a
wide-spread topic of debate. Mass media offers a
sample of our cultural types. Our models—when
they are manly—are the muscular dude with all the
babes, the violent in-your-face hero who smashes you to pulp if you stand in his way, and the
brilliant, billionaire, Bruce Wayne types who have
the money and power to get whatever they want.
When they are not reductionist, they are enerva
ted, especially fathers—the traditional and principal role model. Time and again media studies
conclude that men and fathers are usually shown
to be immature, unhelpful and inept in comparison with other family members1. The problem is
pandemic—sit down to any sitcom and you will
regularly see men depicted as objects of derision.
In our post-modern, post-sexual revolution world
some find it difficult to discern what it means to

1.- For example see R. WILLIAMS, “Our male identity crisis: What will happen to men?” in Psychology Today, in http://www.psy-

chologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201007/our-male-identity-crisis-what-will-happen-men [19-4-2015].
See also R. WILLIAMS, “The Male Identity Crisis and the Decline of Fatherhood,” in Psychology Today, in http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201406/the-male-identity-crisis-and-the-decline-fatherhood [19-4-2015].

IN- FORMARSE / 11

homes are the brothel and the tavern. Virtue you meet in the temple,
the market-place, the senate house, manning the walls, covered with
dust, sunburnt, with calloused hands. (De Vita Beata, VII.3)2

Virtue, manliness, has a lot to do with keeping
pleasure at a distance, but not necessarily beauty.

Apollo of the Belvedere, Vatican Museums

be a man and even more difficult to feel comfortable being one. Given this dilemma, what good can
come from forcing young men to dedicate time and
attention to the fine arts? Telling them they need
to experience beauty and focus on feelings will
only emphasize the effeminate. Besides, aesthetics
have very little to do with manliness anyway, right?
The humanities seem mushy. But the fundamental
philosophical error of our age is to take division as
a start point instead of unity: a sort of simplistic
reasoning incapable of embracing complex wholes
with contrasting poles. So masculinity is reduced
to machismo, money, and power. Forming masculine role models for our time requires saving the
whole—harmony of the poles. And the humanities are key for doing just that. Let me explain.
Seneca, in his treatise on happiness, made a memorable comparison between virtue and something
that has an awful lot to do with beauty—pleasure:

Virtue is a lofty quality, sublime, regal, unconquerable,
untiring. Pleasure is base, slavish, weakly, perishable; its haunts and

Wikipedia (not exactly the font of wisdom, but a
good thermometer of the opinion of the age) says
that one of masculinity’s principle traits is courage—willingness to defend the good in the face
of opposition. Aquinas and Aristotle held courage to be a certain firmness of character necessary for all the virtues. In fact, the word virtue, virtus, comes from vir—man. Virtue, moral courage
in particular, is the key to manliness. But in order to defend the good, you must see it, and not
just part of it. Here is where beauty comes in.
Men experience beauty in a particular way. In his
book about the journey to manhood, Fathered by
God, John Eldredge claims that to reach manhood
one must go through an aesthetic conversion, become a lover. At one point or another, a man’s soul
is awakened by beauty. The problem is that any man
knows it is something dangerous, so powerful that
it can overwhelm, but so vital to his existence that
it cannot be ignored. In his ancient epics, Homer
has no shortage of heroes, but all of them have
an Achilles’ heel. The Achilles’ heel of every man
is the existential need—a gaping hole in himself—
for what is beautiful. And it is incarnate in woman.
Here’s the hazard. Navigating today’s aggressively
promiscuous environment as a man is like sailing
past the Sirens. You either keep beauty and all of its
attraction at a distance by making yourself insensible
to it, or you get sucked in so far that you become
a slave and destroy yourself and what you love.
Virtus in medio. The problem here is the narrowness
of the extremes. If you only experience beauty as
body, you are missing most of it. Beauty is more.
And there is nothing contrary to manliness in be-

2.- “Altum quiddam est virtus, excelsum et regale, invictum infatigabile: voluptas humile servile, inbecillum caducum, cuius statio
ac domicilium fornices et popinae sunt. Virtutem in templo convenies, in foro in curia, pro muris stantem, pulverulentam coloratam,
callosas habentem manus.”

IN- FORMARSE / 12

ing moved by it. On one of his campaigns, the
Persian warrior-king Xerxes was stopped in his
tracks by the beauty of a sycamore tree. So much
so that he had a replica cast in gold to remember the moment for the rest of his life. King David, a man battle-hardened in hand-to-hand combat, didn’t hesitate to sing and compose poetry.
Appreciation for beauty in all of its forms—from
a mountaintop view to Shelley’s “The Cloud” to
Bach’s cello suites to the spiritual beauty of a human soul—makes it easier to plot a course between
extremes resembling Scylla and Charybdis. On
the one hand, it helps to put the beauty of bodies
into a broader context. Harmony and order temper the energy in man that could become immanitas, making it humanitas. On the other hand, since
beauty unlocks the power of a man’s potential by
drawing him toward what is good, studying the
humanities can direct that energy by showing that
beauty has a hierarchy. At the summit of that hierarchy is the greatest created good: persons. And
each of them is a messenger of Beauty Himself.

ness, and have an important role to play in forming
a truly masculine heart. Experiencing beauty in all
of its complex and varied forms opens the heart to
the whole, offering an opportunity to turn the hazard of an Achilles’ heel into a source of strength.
To be a man you have to be a lover. To be a lover you must know the beauty and intrinsic value of
what you are loving and defending—paramount
is the dignity of women and children. Giving and
defending life—persons, their innocence, their ideals, their hopes and dreams—is what being a man
is all about. Real men responding to the whole.

The humanities promote manliness, not mushi-

The Triumph of Achilles, Franz von Matsch,
from a panoramic fresco on the upper level of the
Achilleion Palace, Corfu, Greece

IN- FORMARSE / 13

Amarillo-Rojo-Azul, Kandinsky, Museo Nacional de Arte Moderno, París

Sector Cultural

La belleza

E

al tiempo de las redes sociales
Por
Jorge Enrique Mújica, L. C.

l contexto en el que hoy se plantea la
cuestión de la belleza supone un nuevo reto para todo aquel que desea
ofrecer una respuesta. Ya la misma
interrogante implica saber a quién la dirigimos: ¿a
un nativo digital o a un inmigrante digital? El segundo es aún capaz de recordar que hubo un tiempo en
que internet no era lo que permeaba todo mientras
que el primero nació con lo digital bajo el brazo.
La revolución digital ha supuesto, además, una
reforma mental y así una manera distinta de
aproximarse a los problemas. Es el caso que nos
ocupa. Mientras el inmigrante digital ha entrado
en relación con el mundo a través del ambiente de
la interrelación física, el nativo digital lo ha hecho
por medio del ambiente de la interacción virtual.
De esta manera se puede esperar que la respuesta del primero apunte a una concepción de la
belleza distinta de la que puede tener el segundo.

IN- FORMARSE / 14

Lo que todo sujeto entiende y percibe por bello y
juzga como tal tiene una dimensión objetiva y una
subjetiva. La dimensión objetiva puede estar basada
en cánones procedentes de convenciones sociales
y/o culturales (muchas veces apoyados en disquisiciones especulativas de no poco valor), mientras
que lo segundo re-direcciona más bien a una percepción que queda bien recogida en la famosa expresión del «de gustos no hay nada escrito». Ambas,
en todo caso, apuntan a lo experiencial pero bajo
modalidades diferentes: para el inmigrante digital o
para el que ni siquiera lo es supone momentos de
contemplación, reflexión y discernimiento mientras que para el nativo digital supone interacción.
Demos un paso más y vayamos del sujeto que per
cibe lo bello al lugar donde la belleza es plasmada y
contemplada: ¿es internet como se conoce hoy un
espacio para la expresión de la belleza? La respues-

Varios círculos, Kandinsky, Guggenheim Museum, Nueva York

ta inicial parece ser un rotundo «sí»: el arte, canal
privilegiado de lo bello, existe también en la web no
como un mero migrar del arte tradicional a internet
(art on line) sino como una auténtica nueva manera
de expresar el ingenio humano (on line art). Internet
se presenta, entonces, como una nueva gran galería
para apreciar lo hermoso pero también para plasmarlo. Esto va de la mano de apelar a considerar
programas y otros recursos como verdaderas herramientas de creación artística: si en otros tiempos el
pincel o el cincel eran los instrumentos para materializar lo que el artista llevaba dentro, hoy parece serlo
el mouse, los softwares, hardware y demás artilugios
tecnológicos que facilitan la creación del on line art.
Naturalmente estas consideraciones no suponen pensar que cualquier cosa deba considerarse arte y menos
una ejecución lograda y por tanto bella. ¿Qué es entonces lo propiamente específico de lo bello en la web?
La facilidad con que en las redes sociales se comparten materiales y éstos son valorados ofrece un
indicio que nos deja ver qué es lo que en muchos
casos se entiende por verdad en la web: en la percepción de muchos es verdad lo más popular, lo
que más se comenta o reenvía. Siendo que la ver-

Mancha roja #2, Kandinsky, Galería Lebachhause, Munich

dad está íntimamente vinculada a la belleza no es extraño que ésta también pase por ser considerada a la
luz de la popularidad. ¿Y es entonces esto a lo que
se reduce la belleza al tiempo de las redes sociales?
Antes de aventurar una respuesta consideremos también al artista. La interacción ofrece al artista un contacto directo e inmediato con aquellas personas interesadas en sus creaciones pero también puede llegar a
condicionar su propia creación en caso de no poseer
la suficiente madurez que le haga capaz de pasar indemne ante la tentación de la popularidad que no
sería otra cosa que el menoscabo del propio ingenio.
La consideración acerca de la belleza en el siglo XXI
pasa por hacerlo también a la luz de lo digital y todo
lo que lo digital implica, especialmente en relación
con el modo de pensar. El binomio belleza-internet,
por tanto, conlleva un nuevo reto pedagógico: enseñar a apreciar lo bello, tanto del ámbito físico-material como del on line art, se pone como reto. Se trata
de un reto que no sólo se limita a los nativos digitales
sino incluso hacia el que crea on line art, menester que
intenta abrirse campo en un nuevo contexto. Consecuentemente, ese reto también apunta a no reducir
el tema de la belleza a meras interacciones de masas.

IN- FORMARSE / 15

La belleza del mundo
y la trascendencia*
El creyente delante del universo
Por

IN- FORMARSE / 16

Luis Fernando Hernández, L. C.

L

Indio al atardecer, Thomas Cole, Colección privada

a nadadora Diana Nyad dejó desconcertado a un periodista que no entendía cómo ella podía
maravillarse ante la naturaleza y la humanidad sin creer en Dios. Michael Shermer, el fundador
de The Skeptics Society, comentaba el hecho: «Esta es la sutil intolerancia –dice Shermer refiriéndose al periodista– de los que no son capaces de concebir cómo uno pueda maravillarse sin creer en causas
sobrenaturales del asombro. ¿Por qué habría que pensar así?» 1.
En este breve artículo vamos a abordar la cuestión que Shermer no trató en el suyo («¿Puede un ateo
maravillarse del universo?»), es decir, ¿cómo es posible que las maravillas del mundo lleven a pensar en algo
o alguien más allá?
Los textos de algunos escritores antiguos nos ayudarán a comprender esta gran cuestión que va más allá de
todos los avances tecnológicos de hoy. La tecnología no lo es todo: si lo fuera todo, ya no habría turismo
para ver lugares exóticos o simplemente inspiradores.
En el diálogo Sobre la naturaleza de los dioses Cicerón pone en boca de Balbo, uno de los personajes, una serie
de argumentos sobre cómo conocemos la existencia de los dioses. Para saciar la curiosidad, los resumimos
así: el primero es porque podemos conocer algunas cosas futuras; el segundo, por los continuos cambios
climáticos; el tercero, por la abundancia y calidad de los bienes de la tierra; y el cuarto, por el orden y constancia que vemos en el universo (cf. Cicero, De natura deorum II, 13-15; III, 16).
Pero Balbo decide dejar a un lado sus argumentos más lógicos y empieza a hablar de la siguiente manera
(recomendamos mentalizarse según aquella época):
1.- Michael Shermer, «Can an Atheist Be in Awe of the Universe?» en Scientific American, vol. 310, 3.

* Las traducciones al latín son del mismo autor del artículo. Vienen acompañadas del texto original latino para facilitar la lectura
didáctica de los textos. La traducción, por tanto, conserva un cierto aire de literalidad.

IN- FORMARSE / 17

Licet enim iam remota subtilitate disputandi
oculis quodam modo contemplari pulchritudinem
rerum earum, quas divina providentia dicimus
constitutas.
Ac principio terra universa cernatur locata in media sede mundi, solida et globosa et undique ipsa
in sese nutibus suis conglobata, vestita floribus,
herbis, arboribus, frugibus, quorum omnium incredibilis multitudo insatiabili varietate distinguitur. Adde huc fontum gelidas perennitates, liquores
perlucidos amnium, riparum vestitus viridissimos,
speluncarum concavas altitudines, saxorum
asperitates, inpendentium montium altitudines inmensitatesque camporum; [...].
At vero quanta maris est pulchritudo, quae species universi, quae multitudo et varietas insularum,
quae amoenitates orarum ac litorum, quot genera
quamque disparia partim submersarum, partim
fluitantium et innantium beluarum, partim ad saxa
nativis testis inhaerentium. [...].
Restat ultimus et a domiciliis nostris altissimus
omnia cingens et coercens caeli conplexus, [...]
in quo cum admirabilitate maxima igneae formae
cursus ordinatos definiunt. E quibus sol, cuius
magnitudine multis partibus terra superatur, circum eam ipsam volvitur, isque oriens et occidens
diem noctemque conficit [...]. Isdemque spatiis eae
stellae, quas vagas dicimus, circum terram feruntur eodemque modo oriuntur et occidunt, quarum
motus tum incitantur, tum retardantur, saepe etiam
insistunt, quo spectaculo nihil potest admirabilius
esse, nihil pulchrius (De natura deorum, II, 98104 excerpta).

Dejando a un lado la complejidad de la discusión,
podemos en cierta manera contemplar con los ojos
la belleza de las cosas que hemos dicho que fueron
formadas por la divina providencia.
Para empezar contémplese toda la tierra colocada
en medio del universo, firme, redonda y compacta por todas partes en sí misma por la gravedad;
revestida con flores, hierbas, árboles, frutos, cuyo
increíble número se distingue por una interminable
variedad. Añade a todo esto el permanente estado
frío de las fuentes, el flujo centelleante de los ríos,
los atavíos tan verdes de las riberas, la profundidad y concavidad de las cuevas, la escabrosidad
de las piedras, las alturas de las grandes montañas
y la vastedad de los campos; [...].
Y ¡cuánta es la belleza del mar! ¡Qué belleza la
del mundo, qué cantidad y variedad de islas, qué
gracia de playas y costas! ¡Cuántos géneros y qué
dispares de animales que nadan o que viven sumergidos o flotando o adheridos a los cascos de las
embarcaciones! [...].
Queda el complejo del cielo lejano y distante de
nuestras moradas, que todo lo cubre y abarca, [...]
en el que con gigante fascinación las formas de
fuego trazan las carreras ordenadas. De entre las
cuales está el sol, cuyo tamaño supera por mucho
al de la tierra, viaja alrededor de la misma; y saliendo y poniéndose da lugar al día y a la noche
[...].
En el mismo espacio las estrellas, que llamamos
errantes [las constelaciones], giran en torno a la
tierra y del mismo modo salen y se ponen, y su
movimiento traslaticio a veces se acelera, a veces se
lentifica; muchas veces también se detienen, ¡nada
puede ser más admirable, más hermoso que este espectáculo! (De natura deorum, II, 98-104 excerpta).

En la descripción que hace Balbo de las maravillas del universo
hay que notar la exuberancia y variedad de vocabulario, que no
son casuales. Lo que Cicerón quiere lograr es reflejar con el texto mismo la realidad de lo que afirma: el universo contiene una
vastísima variedad de seres. Por eso, la descripción va de lo
más cercano a lo más lejano a nosotros, para hacernos notar
esta maravillosa diversidad.

Regresemos al núcleo de nuestro artículo. Balbo ha estado argumentando antes de distintas maneras. Es
más, estas son sus últimas palabras antes de hacer la descripción ya mencionada (De natura deorum II, 96-97):

Sed adsiduitate cotidiana et consuetudine oculorum adsuescunt animi neque admirantur neque
requirunt rationes earum rerum, quas semper
vident, proinde quasi novitas nos magis quam
magnitudo rerum debeat ad exquirendas causas excitare. Quis enim hunc hominem dixerit,
qui, cum tam certos caeli motus, tam ratos astrorum ordines tamque inter se omnia conexa et
apta viderit, neget in his ullam inesse rationem
eaque casu fieri dicat, quae, quanto consilio gerantur, nullo consilio adsequi possumus. An, cum
machinatione quadam moveri aliquid videmus ut
sphaeram, ut horas, ut alia permulta, non dubitamus, quin illa opera sint rationis, cum autem
impetum caeli cum admirabili celeritate moveri
vertique videamus constantissime conficientem
vicissitudines anniversarias cum summa salute et
conservatione rerum omnium, dubitamus, quin
ea non solum ratione fiant, sed etiam excellenti
divinaque ratione?

Pero nuestros espíritus se arrutinan por el trajín
cotidiano y la costumbre de los ojos y ya no se
admiran ni se preguntan por las causas de las cosas
que siempre ven, de donde resulta que es casi la
novedad la que nos debe despertar para buscar las
causas más que la grandeza de la realidad. ¿Quién
llamaría ‘humano’ al que, viendo los mo vimientos del cielo tan exactos, tan firme el orden de los
astros y tan coordinados entre sí y compa ginados,
negara que existe en ellos alguna causa y afirme
que todo esto sucede por casualidad? O ¿acaso
cuando vemos que algo se mueve con un cierto
mecanismo, como una esfera o un reloj u otras
muchas cosas, vacilamos en que sean obras de la
razón? ¿Y, cuando vemos que el impulso del cielo
se mueve con increíble velocidad y gira cumpliendo persistentemente sus desplazamientos anuales
con gran equilibrio y preservación de todas las
cosas, acaso dudamos que no solo se obren estas
cosas por la razón, sino también por la excelente
razón divina?

En este último párrafo sobresalen los motivos lógicos de Balbo: si hay orden en universo, debe
haber alguien que lo haya establecido. En el primer texto Balbo nos hace ver las maravillas y la
belleza de nuestro mundo, pero sin concluir nada en concreto. Balbo echaría en cara a Shermer que no
crea posible la capacidad de maravilla auténtica y la referencia a Dios al mismo tiempo. Para Shermer
las personas que se maravillan se dividen en dos: las que son proclives al asombro y no lo asocian a
ningún ser; y las que no lo son, porque refieren inmediatamente la maravilla a una causa externa a ellos.
¿Qué poder tiene la contemplación de un paisaje para que nos deje boquiabiertos? ¿Por qué el
brillo de Venus, Júpiter o Sirius nos sorprende más que el brillo de la pantalla de un IPhone?
Hoy en día es más difícil hacer estas preguntas. Es fácil constatar que preferimos capturar una fotografía del
momento que contemplar directamente con nuestros ojos la naturaleza, el arte o cualquier otra maravilla.
Monte Washington, John F. Kensett, Museo de
Wellesley College, Wellesley Massachussets

IN- FORMARSE / 19

Templo de Zeus, Olimpia

Las preguntas que hemos hecho merecen una respuesta, porque no pasan de moda. Los aparatos con que
tomamos fotos o hacemos vídeos pasarán de moda. La naturaleza, sin embargo, allí estará y nuestras preguntas también.
La descripción que Cicerón elaboró a través de Balbo perduró en la tradición cristiana posterior. Y este tipo
de descripción la encontramos, por ejemplo, en Minucio Félix (Octavius, cap. 17), san Agustín (De civitate Dei,
XXII, 24; Enarrationes in ps., 41, 7) y durante la Edad Media en el franciscano Tomás de York (Sapientiale,
lib. VII, c. 10, 8-16).
Ponemos el ejemplo del texto de san Agustín en La ciudad de Dios:
Iam cetera pulchritudo et utilitas creaturae, quae
homini, licet in istos labores miseriasque proiecto atque damnato, spectanda atque sumenda
divina largitate concessa est, quo sermone terminari potest? in caeli et terrae et maris multimoda et varia pulchritudine, in ipsius lucis tanta copia tamque mirabili specie, in sole ac luna
et sideribus, in opacitatibus nemorum, in colo
ribus et odoribus florum, in diversitate ac multitudine volucrum garrularum atque pictarum, in
multiformi specie tot tantarumque animantium,
quarum illae plus habent admirationis, quae
molis minimum (plus enim formicularum et
apicularum opera stupemus quam immensa corpora ballaenarum), in ipsius quoque maris tam
grandi spectaculo, cum sese diversis coloribus
velut vestibus induit [...]. Quam porro delectabiliter spectatur etiam quandocumque turbatur,
et fit inde maior suavitas, quia sic demulcet
intuentem, ut non iactet et quatiat navigantem!

¿Con qué tipo de discurso se puede concebir la belleza y valor de la creación que la divina generosidad
concedió al hombre para que la contemplara y se hiciera cargo de ella, a pesar de verse arrojado a estos trabajos y miserias, y de haber sido condenado?
En la hermosura tan variada y cambiante del cielo,
de la tierra y del mar; en el sol, la luna y los astros;
en las penumbras de los bosques, en los colores y
fragancias de las flores, en la diversidad y número
de aves que cantan y están llenas de colores; en las
varias especies de tantos y tan admirables animales,
de entre los que son más dignos de admiración los
que poseen menor dimensión (en efecto, nos ma
ravillamos de las construcciones de las hormigas
y abejas más que de la inmensa masa de las ballenas); también en el gran espectáculo del mar, cuando se viste con tan diversos vestidos y colores [...].
¡Con cuánto agrado se contempla el mar cuando se
agita y luego se hace más grande la calma, porque
de esta manera da gusto al que lo contempla,
con tal de que no arroje y golpee al que navega!

Los textos que hemos citado nos dan algunas pistas para entender cómo la belleza natural y la trascendencia
pueden tener un punto en común. En ambos textos, de un pagano y de un cristiano, aparecen la maravilla
como actitud del espectador, la diversidad de la naturaleza, los matices mínimos que hallamos en ella; y la
capacidad del hombre de ver tanto lo maravillosamente grande como lo sorprendentemente pequeño: las
hormigas y las estrellas del universo. Ya decía Ovidio: «y mientras los demás animales miran inclinados la
tierra, [dios] dio al hombre una visión sublime y le ordenó que mirara el cielo y que erguido levantara el
rostro hacia las estrellas» . Sí, podemos contemplar y creer al mismo tiempo, porque «nacimos para cosas
más grandes» .
2.- Ovidio, Metamorphoses, I, 84-86: «pronaque cum spectent animalia cetera terram, / os homini sublime dedit caelumque videre /iussit et erectos ad sidera
tollere vultus»
3.- Cicerón, De finibus bonorum et malorum, V, 21: «ad maiora quaedam [...] nati sumus».

IN- FORMARSE / 20