As the title suggests, this new book by Fr. Dubay is a wonderfully written and compelling argument for the power of Beauty as a primary evidence of the existence of Truth made evident in the handiwork of the Lord at every level of the created order. One of the most exhilarating books I have read in the past five years, Evidential Power makes the assertion that "every experience of beauty points to infinity".
Fr. Dubay structures this volume in three sections. The first, "Laying The Groundwork", deals primarily with a theology of Beauty, establishing the place that Beauty holds in declaring the glory of God in every created thing. The important cornerstone that is laid in this section is that all beauty in the created order, both in the heavens and on the earth, derives its beauty from the "radiant form" of the Person of Jesus Christ, Who is the express image of the Beautiful God. As human beings created in that image, we are made to resonate with the form of that which is beautiful, and we find ourselves captivated by beauty wherever we see it. All things have beauty in proportion to their conformity to the radiant form of Jesus, and ugliness, or deformity, emerges when the radiant form of Christ is denied or lost.
Fr. Dubay suggests three levels of common understanding of beauty: the comeliness of the appearance of something lovely on the sense level, the spiritual beauty of a person who has begun to transcend the natural realm through the consideration of higher things, and the beauty of Divine glory, which is the pinnacle of Beauty. All these levels find their meaning in relationship with (conformity to) the classical principle of Beauty, that which has unity, harmony, proportion, wholeness, and radiance. These qualities are found in perfection in the Trinitarian Godhead, in the beautiful and radiant relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As the first section proceeds, Fr. Dubay gives expression to the questions of how and why we are impacted by that which is beautiful, and the destiny that is in the heart of God as He draws us by the power of Beauty.
The second section of the book, "Savoring The Symphony", is given over to the examination of how Beauty is expressed specifically in the created order. The author begins with the realm of non-human beauty in "macro-marvels" (the cosmos, stars, planets, and galaxies, etc.), "midi-marvels" (the world of plants and animals), and "mini-marvels" (the world of the microscopic). Focusing on the marvelous design of the created order, from the biggest to the smallest, Fr. Dubay leads us on a tour de force of intricacy, intelligence, and purpose rooted in the mind of God as He painstakingly fashioned the cosmos.
This section culminates in an overview of "the anthropic principle", an emerging scientific theory that deals with the inescapable conclusion that the whole universe was designed in a precise way so that human beings could live upon the earth in a very narrow window of time. Moving from this to a discussion of humankind as "the crown of the cosmos", the author shows that the creative power of God finds its highest expression in the creation of human beings as His own special treasure. This truly is a mind-boggling section of the book, as the author gives example after example of the intricacy with which God designed the whole thing so that we might live and have relationship with Him.
The final section, "Divine Glory", deals more specifically with Beauty as it is found in the Divine Personality, expressed in the radiant image of Jesus Christ, and as it emerges in those who give themselves extravagantly to the pursuit of holiness and beauty. This radiant beauty, or reflected glory, shines forth in proportion to the whole-hearted gazing upon the Lord Jesus in worship and contemplative prayer. As one would expect, Fr. Dubay's Catholic orientation is obvious here, but in a compelling way. As he cites the examples of the saints of the Church who have given themselves lavishly to this pursuit, it is difficult to argue with the results: the saints have lives that have reflected the character and beauty of Christ both in the personal realm, and in the realm of ministering to humanity in His Name.
For those who have a painful history in the Catholic Church (and what person who has been in any organized denomination for very long has emerged totally unscathed?), Fr. Dubay's enthusiasm may seem a bit much. However, the argument is solid: when we examine the lives of those who have given themselves in unrestrained ways to loving God, the fruit of their existence is self-evident. This reality is perhaps the final and most substantial proof that the thesis of the book is valid: there is an evidential power in Beauty, and we are blessed that Fr. Dubay has seen fit to instruct us.