Building On Negatives

In Food Porn, Susan Wise Bauer writes about the tendency of modern authors to critique culture without offering a viable alternative: The cover‐model ideal is warped and twisted, but they can’t manage to unwarp it. I’m reminded of J. R. R. Tolkien’s orcs, who (according to the Silmarillion) were modeled on elves by the dark powers; they were fashioned “by slow arts of cruelty in envy and mockery,” because dark powers can only warp and twist, not create afresh. If you’ve never seen an elf, and you try to work backwards from an orc to its model, you’re darn well not going to end up with Orlando Bloom.

You can’t build on negation alone.

How often is our plan for being good to stop being bad? In the Biblical perspective, holiness is an addition equation, not a subtraction equation. We don’t merely seek to eradicate vices such as gossip and lying; on the contrary, we actively cultivate virtues such as love, joy, patience, and self‐control.

Just some quick thoughts inspired by an absolutely brilliant Tolkien reference in an otherwise unrelated article.