Thursday, May 31, 2007

Beauty & the Healing of the Soul: Charleston, WV

If you look at advertisements, watch TV and movies, or read magazines, you can tell that our culture is full of messages about physical beauty, how to become more attractive, and what a beautiful lifestyle looks like. Many of these messages that shape how we think about ourselves and see others are actually harmful to us and our relationships. While trying to be beautiful according to American standards, in reality we are confused and hurting inside. Self-centeredness, loneliness, lust, loss of direction, anger, relationship problems, eating disorders, violence, addiction, depression and other issues are plaguing many of us.

Beauty and the Healing of the Soul explores the problems we face and the hope found in the Orthodox way of life, the ancient way of spiritual healing.

If you live near Charleston, WV, join us on Friday, June 8th at 7:00 PM.

(Photo in ad by Jocelyn Mathewes. Used by permission. This photograph is part of her Women with Icons series.)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Orthodox Study Bible Cover Design

I look forward to the publication of the complete Orthodox Study Bible, including both the Old Testament and New Testament.

Visit the Thomas Nelson, Inc. website to vote for the cover design of the new Orthodox Study Bible

(I endorse cover design option #1.)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Beauty and Self-Esteem

I recently discovered an article by San Juanchos on the Blogcritics Magazine site entitled, "Ladies, Ten Ways to Boost Your Self Esteem." The last suggestion on the list (#10) is worthy of note:

"Understand that the most important part of beauty comes from within. Outer beauty fades through time, but inner beauty lasts throughout your whole life. Cultivate your spirit, read, soar, and don't spend so much time in front of that TV!"

This suggestion points the reader in the right direction. It encourages the nurturing and healing of the soul. Here's the problem: While many people within secular culture who read the article would probably agree that cultivating the spirit or nurturing the soul is something good, what these things really mean probably escapes most people. They may have a vague notion of cultivating the spirit, but their understanding would likely not reach very deep.

By living the Orthodox way of life we can diagnosis the root causes of our unhealthy self-image and receive the medicine that both heals our self-image and restores our inner beauty. Cultivating the spirit and nurturing the soul involve synergy, the cooperation between God and us. We don't need 10 ways to improve self-esteem, but we need the One who can allow us to see ourselves as we really are and heal us.

Copyright © 2007 by Dana S. Kees. (The painting by William Bouguereau is from the Art Renewal Center.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Beauty of Personal Change

Cosmetic plastic surgery is apparently becoming increasingly popular. I've seen a few video clips recently on CNN and FOX NEWS related to the subject. Most of us may not be surprised that "the Stars" are trying to look younger or just change how they look, but Fox News reported that cosmetic surgery among teenagers, even high school students, is on the rise. People are seeking to change even the smallest details of their appearances. Self-obsession with regard to outward appearance isn't just a problem among women. A report on Fox News indicates that more men are seeking Botox treatments to improve their looks. (Where is authentic manhood?)

Our society nurtures unhealthy attitudes about the human body. So many people have a corrupted view of what they really look like. The problem is not the outward appearance, but the sickness of the soul. We don't see the world, including ourselves, with clear vision. Instead of seeking clear vision to see themselves as they really are, people are changing their outward appearance so that the outer appearance conforms to their warped, blurry vision of themselves. Why alter a healthy body instead of seeking to cure the soul?

Orthodox Christians recently commemorated Christ's healing of the blind man. We chanted the prayer, "Lighten, O Lord, my supersensuous eyes, made blind by the gloom of sin. Anoint them, O compassionate One, with humility; wash them with the tears of repentance." True beauty in all its richness and depth isn't seen only with the physical eyes of the senses (sight is one of the five senses), but with our "super-sensual eyes," also called the "spiritual eyes" or the "eyes of the soul." When we turn away from our own self-conscious and prideful self-centeredness toward the One who is the source of Beauty, Love, and Life , we can see ourselves and the world around us with new eyes, enlightened by divine light.

Some people might say, "Don't think you need to change yourself. Just be proud of who you are." I'm not saying that. We all should seek to change who we are, striving to become more beautiful, loving, and full of life. This requires looking deep into our own souls. The transformation of the whole person can't be achieved by a medical procedure that affect only the body (and maybe the self-esteem). Personal transformation is acheived through the spiritual therapy that transfigures the soul and opens the eyes of the heart to see everything as it really is. If we are willing to embrace humility instead of feeding our egos then we can begin to walk down the path that leads toward real beauty and the achievement of our full human potential.

Copyright © 2007 by Dana S. Kees. (A Classical Beauty (1909) by John William Godward is from the Art Renewal Center Museum. Used by permission.)

Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Search for Beauty's Holy Grail

Check out a CNN video report on the "Miracle Cream" that has inspired the British. The Daily Mail has published a piece on what the paper says has become "the Holy Grail of beauty treatments." The Guardian Unlimited and The Scotsman have also published articles on the subject. What if the British, the Europeans, and the Americans enthusiastically invested so much energy and hope in the beauty and healing of their souls?

The beauty of the body isn't bad, but the beauty of the soul is far more important and long lasting, affecting also the beauty of the body. This is an icon of St. Anastasia, who holds in her pure hands the medicine that heals both the body and the soul. May our generation find inspiration in St. Anastasia and all the Saints who show us the inner way of true beauty.

Copyright © 2007 by Dana S. Kees. (The icon of St. Anastasia is from the IconoGraphics ColorWorks Library, Theologic Systems, Used by permission.)

Friday, May 04, 2007

A Summer of Beauty & Healing

A semester of formal study is coming to a close and summer vacation approaches. God willing, this summer I'll have a generous number of opportunities to speak on "Beauty and the Healing of the Soul" within the Orthodox way of life. I like writing on beauty and healing, and I've enjoyed conducting my research on the topic this year, but all of my effort is rooted in a simple desire to practically help people with the real problems that face them in American culture. May some good result from my effort.