This afternoon I screened the first episode of Ken Burns’ award winning documentary The Civil War, for a class I’m teaching. From the first notes of the soundtrack, I was pulled back in time to September 1990 (and 1994) when I was first enraptured by the sights and sounds of the Civil War.
I’m fairly certain that the love affair with history that marks my life today began that week in the 5th grade, when I spent hours with my dad watching a glorious work of art. Say what you will about Burns’ historical interpretation of the War, the documentary itself is a masterpiece, and I argue that watching it set part of the course of my life (watching his documentary on Baseball in 1994 set another course, but that’s a different post. Go Sox.).
The nostalgia was so thick today that I sent my dad a text, thanking him for exposing me to history in such a beautiful manner. My mom has told me that she still struggles with enjoying history after spending high school in history classes with teacher/coaches who read the sports page while the class read the textbook and completed handouts. That’s not the history of Ken Burns, my friends.
This led me to thinking about the fact that the manner in which we present anything has an impact on how we perceive and receive said thing. The most fantastic parts of life can seem mundane or even terrible if presented a certain way, and the worst parts can appear glorious if sold well. Humanity is drawn to beauty, and I’d argue, we were created that way.
Our God is glorious Creator, and we are Imago Dei. He makes beauty, we are drawn to it. In Exodus 28, God gives the instructions for Aaron’s priestly garments:
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in his temple.