What Is Your Soul Worth??
Maria Harp and Andrea Warbling walk through their school halls together every day. Both of them have been attending the Mel brook school system since pre-school.
Yet they have never met one another and have no intention too. It’s too bad, because both of them share not only classes, but the same problem. Maria Harp is a six foot tall Amazon with blond hair, and sapphire eyes. Her skin has always been fair and clear of blemishes, and she has more than once been complimented on her figure.
Yet Maria thinks differently. Now that Maria is a freshman, she has found herself shoved into the unforgiving, never ending war of appearances. As life at home becomes more complicated, and stress at school increases, Maria has noticed herself becoming more and more self-aware when it comes to her own physical flaws. When approached on the subject this is what Maria said “no one seems to understand, being “pretty” has got nothing to do with it. What people wanted to see is perfection, because perfection on the outside, means that your perfect the inside too.” Harp’s classmate Andrea Warbling has also been having an interesting time of self- discovery also.
Andrea, like Maria is fairly tall, but when it comes to overall build it’s quite a different story. Though Andrea is by no means overweight, she does have what most would call a “sturdier build”. Even though Andrea’s so called “friends” have approached her several times about going on a diet, Andrea has shut them down each time. “When I was younger”, says Andrea, “My older sister was always was always obsessed with how she looked and what she weighed, and so we watched as she slow and quietly destroyed herself from the inside out. Finally, when I was about nine years old she died in a hospital bed of Anorexia, ashen, bone thin, and being fed through a tube.
That’s when I promised myself that no matter what I look like during my life I will never alter myself to fit a standard”. This being said Andrea has already committed hypocrisy by smothering her face with loads of makeup every day. Both of these girls are representatives of two groups of teenage women. Ones who are more prone to radical steps and others who take small steps that are perceived as harmless by society, yet may still bruise ones self- esteem. Though many girls have grown up through puberty un-scared, there are plenty who don’t.
Could one learn from such a tender age to defy our human desires, and rise to embrace our inner God given spiritual beauty? Long ago in the highest courts of ancient Greece there was a Neoplatonian saying: “the presence of physical beauty is the affirmation of a noble spirit.” Throughout the centuries this phrase has often been used by sculptures who have wanted to capture in essence the prospects of good and evil within the mind. Therefore, if the sculpture was of something wholesome and pure, like a hero or a god of true and justice, they would be portrayed as beautiful. If they were the adversary, a liar, or a half-wit they could be portrayed as someone with multiple physical flaws, or fear inducing abnormalities. The truth of the statement being: trust the beautiful and hate the ugly. The question is where did all these beliefs come from, and how do the influences of good and evil have anything to do with the physical world? Neo-Platonism has its roots in ancient Greece, and was taught by many of the early philosophers.
Philosophers such as Plato, Hepatic of Alexandria, Proclus, and Simplicius of Cilicia spent most of their lives studying this section of philosophy. (Source 2) “Within philosophy there are five areas of study and discourse” (source 1) the first being Logic which is the study of the ideal method of thought and research, observation and introspection, deduction and induction, hypothesis and experimentation, and analysis and synthesis. Second, Esthetics the study of ideal form, or beauty, in other words it is the philosophy of art. Third, Ethics the study of ideal conduct, how one should act and behave. Fourth, Politics which is the study of ideal social organization, (which in reality has nothing to do with the science of capturing and keeping office).
And finally Metaphysics- the study of the “ultimate reality” of all things of the real and final nature of “matter” (ontology) of “mind” (philosophical phycology), and of the interpretation of “mind and matter” in the processes of perception and knowledge (epistemology). For the sake of time and argument we will say that Neo-Platonism would fall under the study of metaphysics because it deals with where all notion of reality comes from, and how the spiritual and physical are so in sync with one another they are nearly one in the same. (Source 1) So what within the Neo-plutonian faith has to do with good and evil? Summed up, it could be said as such. We are all born with an innately good spirit. Evil only exists because of the imperfection caused by the world (Source 2, Paraphrase) Therefore, what is beautiful must be righteous, and what is ugly must be wicked. Because of the corruption of the world human vision has been stunted so that we may not see elements and individuals as they truly are.
If one was to follow this train of thought, it would seem quite sensible as to why one would come to the belief that ugly features harbor a curse, and flattering features harbor nobility. The differences between the physical and spiritual are blurred throughout the belief structure of the neo-plutonian. The two are so inter-woven, they almost seem to coincide with one another. The physical attributes reflect the spiritual being that resides within that shell of flesh known simply as the body. The spiritual being radiates everything it is to the outside, where it may be worn by the physical, like drapes of cloth colored and embroidered with the patterns of its heart.
Nothing can be hidden. The slightest flaw is a mark worthy of scorn, for it may reflect an evil desire. We are left exposed and hopeless, and there is not chance for redemption. The only world that exists is now, for after death you return to the main source of all life, and become nothing. (Source 3) As we can see Neo-Platonism is a “faith” that has been around for centuries.
To surmise the basic belief structure is difficult, but may be done as such. We are all one in the beginning and after life. In the time we spend on this earth, one may see glimpses of what people and places are like within reality. In other words humanity and the physical is just a vale, which one may remove with proper discipline of the mind, and dedicated study of philosophy. Wouldn’t it be interesting to meet both a student of Neo-Platonism and a disciple of Christianity, and have a theological debate? Speaking of Christianity, what are their thoughts on all this? Surely this is all just talk! The Christians will set us straight. “Of course we will!!” says the young Christian generation, but even Christians make mistakes.
The biggest one in accordance with this topic is the phrase uttered everywhere “it doesn’t matter”. This phrase has been construe, and twisted so many times it is often misinterpreted. Is it really so out of line to say “yes, it does matter”? God has commanded us throughout scripture to take care of ourselves for “the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God. You are not your own you were bought at a price therefore honor God with your body”. Each body is created unique and special for every individual with love from God. Just think your first birthday present ever was a body to house your precious soul.
Just like that sweater that your sweet elderly grandmother gave you, whether it is “easy on your eyes” or not, you are going to take care of it out of respect and reverence for the person who gave it to you. Now let’s dissect these verses from the book of 1 Peter: Your beauty should not come from outer adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle, quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. (1 Peter 3: 3-4) We have all heard or have some idea of the meaning of “outer adornment”. In the book of 1 Peter, Peter is referencing the exquisiteness of clothing. Anything worn on the outside of the body has added to what people see.
In the same way, lack of proper covering adorns someone also, though in that case it is in the metaphorical sense. Because we are human, it is common for people around us to judge one another by how someone speaks, and dresses, even if they do not know that person and have no idea who they are within. Many of us for that reason make the principle mistake of trying to compensate for our own feelings of insecurity by making blanket statements of who we are by dressing differently, or worse the same as everyone, instead of forcing people to get to know us by intriguing people with our actions, and motives. As was said in Corinthians chapter 13, “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts, they form one body so it is with Christ.” The human eye a complex structure of many parts, the iris which is the colored part of the eye, the pupil which is the muscle controlling the amount of light that enters the eye, the retina containing the rods and cones, and so on and so forth. Everything works together to produce the miracle of vision.
This being said, human vision like anything else on earth is flawed and subjective. A group of people can all look at a certain painting (or person), and see something completely different than the original artist was thinking of as they created their awe inspiring master piece. Human vision lacks definition, and will never truly see until heaven. When it comes to 20/20 vision no on compares to God. Another thought that coincides with this is the significance of the words who and what within the Bible. Throughout scripture, God is insistently saying that he loves who we are, that He created us in his own image, that He, the God of the entire universe, created us to be his children.
What we are is on the outside, the physical. Who we are is on the inside, the spiritual. They are as different as apples and oranges. The soul God has given you should never be underestimated. It is as delicate and soft as a white lily in spring. It is as beautiful as a new born baby seeing the word for the first time.
Its innocence is precious. Every emotion however big or small is within its capability. God has created something with a magnificence that can never be put into words, and should never be taken lightly. Now that we have clarified what most already know, let’s simplify. As Christians we believe that beauty comes from within not outside.
The human eye can never do God’s creation justice. Every individual soul is precious, and irreplaceable. So here is a food for thought question, why then do then do we treat people differently according to their race, size, physical aptitude, or social skill, if God in fact made us all in his own image, the way He saw fit. So what then is one to say when presented with such different yet similar arguments? For if one was paying attention they will have seen similarities reoccurring throughout. Both of them agree that beauty is spiritual yet differ on the idea of how beauty may manifest itself. Neo-Platonism believes that if something is beautiful within, it will be beautiful to the human eye from the outside.
Whereas, Christianity believes that everything is beautiful in some way because it was created by God. Take the leap next time within your “holy circle” and say “Yes it does matter because God would not have created such a notion as beauty if it did not”. Just remember this though, God is the only one within your life worth impressing, and if your work to please Him, by doing so you will achieve a beauty worth far more than any other.