Beauty, Mission, and Apologetics (and Narnia)

by Holly Ordway

My last two pieces have focused on architectural beauty. Now I want to follow the idea of ‘beauty in architecture’ into some non-architectural spaces – including Narnia.

I would argue that beauty is a form of mission and witness to the community.

Consider this encouraging example of how an abandoned Wal-Mart was turned into a public library. The town could have saved money by just using the space almost as-is… but it was objectively ugly. (Objectively, not subjectively: no one ever said “Wow, what a lovely Wal-Mart.”) The architects and designers transformed this space, making it more humanly proportioned, with colorful furniture and visually attractive signs. Interestingly: “Within the first month following the opening, new user registration increased by 23%.”

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Beautiful sacred spaces might help us share the Gospel in our communities. For the people who say “I don’t believe any of that Christian nonsense, but I like to visit the church, for the art, you know, and because it’s a peaceful place to sit for a few minutes,” beauty can be a form of apologetics – sometimes the only form that will get past the ‘watchful dragons’ of jaded skepticism.

Following that thread a little further – what about story?

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been collaborating with William O’Flaherty of on an extended interview series with Michael Ward about the Chronicles of Narnia, in which Ward discusses his argument that CS Lewis used medieval planetary imagery to create a structure of meaning for the Chronicles…

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