Shadows and Lies (and beautiful equations)

“By doing things badly, we make ourselves less real.” Thomas Merton

Less real? Wow. Shoddy half-baked careless work makes you less real? Is that true?

I think we know it is.

In fact, I think it has something to do with beauty.

I once heard Sir John Polkinghorne (yes, that really is his name) say something that I haven’t forgotten (well when someone with such a name says something, you tend to pull up your socks, sit up straight and listen). This is what he said. He said that if an equation is true it is also beautiful.


Truth and Beauty. They go hand in hand. They are ultimate reality.

Ugliness and lies are not ultimate reality. They are shadowy. Not real.

So if we do something excellent, we imitate the creator. We step into the real. Into truth. Into beauty.

God does all things well. If He is ultimate reality, then the more we imitate him the less like shadow-like we become. The more real we become. The more truly ourselves.

I love that.



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4 Responses to “Shadows and Lies (and beautiful equations)”

  1. Paul Ellis

    Great insight, Sally. What is true for equations is true for stories and people. The gospel is beautiful. If our stories aren’t beautiful, something is missing. If our message isn’t beautiful – if we’re pointing fingers and fault-finding – we’ve missed it. Jesus is beautiful. This means he is attractive because we are drawn to beauty. Evangelism is not about trying to convince people to do something they don’t want to do. It’s revealing the beauty of Jesus and his love and forgiveness. Who doesn’t want that?

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