Monday, May 29, 2006

Ping Homily - Beauty

Every month, Shawn over at LoFi Tribe hosts a ping homily* to discuss different religious themes such as humility or love. This month he has chosen “beauty” as the word to write about. To see how this works, check out the 9rules Religion Community blog and then feel free to join in!

When most people think of beauty, their minds go to that perfect flower or that drop-dead-gorgeous person walking down the street. But what is beauty? Most people know when something is beautiful, but yet they still have difficulty defining the concept.

Beauty, as defined by a dictionary, is “qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit.” (Merriam Webster dictionary) So, beauty can be taken to mean something that stimulates, or arouses, the mind. Coming from a psychological point of view, it would be slightly different. Let me explain.

From a young age, we understand the concept of beauty even if we can’t define it. We can point out the “pretty flower” or show a preference for colorful toys (i.e. – Color = beauty similar to how a colorful bird in nature is beautiful). Even as infants, we have a preference for faces that are considered beautiful, according to psychological research. You could almost make the argument that we are hard-wired to prefer things that are beautiful.

One thing that I find fascinating is that beauty isn’t the exceptional or extraordinary – it is the average. Psychological research has shown, by using computer technology to morph faces together, that people prefer the morphed or average faces. You might be wondering about this, but think about it this way – people who are exceptional in their physical appearance have features that very few people have. So, psychologically, people prefer others that are similar to themselves, which tend to be more average features. For more information on this concept, check out this website called Beautycheck.

So, in this way beauty is about more than just looking good. It is about how something plays on our emotions and about our reactions to those emotions. It is about the realization that there is beauty in everyone and everything and that it presents itself in different ways. And in a way, it is about our connection with the world around us through those emotions and reactions. In other words, our psychological make up has a huge roll in what we consider beautiful.

* I was confused at what a “homily” was so I looked it up. A homily is “a lecture or discourse on or of a moral theme.”


Shawn Anthony said...

Sojourner, your wrote: "One thing that I find fascinating is that beauty isn't the exceptional or extraordinary – it is the average."

That is an incredibly profound and beautiful statement. Well said! What a wonderful post! I hope you continue to participate so as to add your spiritual voice and presence to a mix that needs it.

Sojourner said...

Thanks Shawn!

I hope you continue this feature. I think that it is a wonderful way for people of all faiths to connect. When people talk about their viewpoint of a certain concept, we realize what role language and words have in communication.

peppylady said...

As person opinion on beauty...I think beauty can change at different rates. I've meet great looking people who I have to admit that I judge them on their looks. Well as they open their mouth and to me the started to loose their peel.
I found you threw turtle heart cove. Anyhow I don't know why but if you click on peppylady it won't go back to my blogger. If you go to google and do a search for peppylady blogspot. it should be the first

Shawn Anthony said...

Sojourner - Yes, it will be a continuing feature. There are more coming too! You keep on writing! Your voice is a cherished one.

Autumn said...

Just stopping in to let you know that you should change your bookmark for me. I am only going to be using blogger to comment, but will have my post at

Sojourner said...

Autumn - I will change my link. Thanks for the update.

Thanks for the compliment, Shawn.

Rubicon said...

they make a good arguement based on the basic human response to external factors such as symmetry and sameness. However, we all know that beyond a basic attraction, what is attractive is more subjective. Beautiful people can either attract your attention or being ignored completely.

I see beautiful people everyday and most I will forget exist moments after they have passed by. To catch my attention personality plays a huge part as does cleanliness, smile and intelligence. In a nutshell; it's all about soul ;)

Sojourner said...

bluemilk - It sounds like you have a rare gift to see past physical beauty to who the person really is. :)