What do Beauty, Morality, and Fear have in common?

I wonder because these seem to be three important elements of spirituality. It is true that we tend to think that beauty is good – in nature, in people – not only ordinary goodness, but often moral goodness too. Religious art and people who speak of spiritual experiences testify to the bonds between beauty and religion. Fear is clear also – fearing God and fearing death are two powerful motivations present in all religions, and this fear is often explicitly linked to morality. But why are these three things all bundled up together? Is it a historical accident? Couldn’t there be two or three separate drives or institutions? If beauty is connected to morality, and morality to fear, is there a third connection between fear and beauty? Perhaps I have just picked out three arbitrary qualities of spirituality with no correlation beyond coincidence and the flow of the words off my tongue. Beauty, Morality, and Fear.

2004-04-20

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