Source: Brian Holdsworth via YouTube
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If you’ve ever seen videos of street corners in the late 19th or early 20th century, if you have a soul, you may notice how beauty is exemplified in so much of what is captured there; from the architecture, to the carriages, to the dress of the people. And, if you have a brain, it may have left you wondering, what changed? What happened to our culture that caused us to go from sensibilities that would inspire men to aim at a vision of masculinity like this to something more like this?
The first reason for the shift in our cultural sensibilities that I’d want to highlight is that as the influence of the Church and Christianity has waned over the years, we’ve been more easily persuaded to believe that external appearances do not convey anything necessary about internal realities.
We say things like, don’t judge a book by its cover. By that, we mean, there is some internal value that you can’t see when judging an object or a person by their external appearance.
Whereas Christianity has, predominantly, insisted that human beings are body-soul composites and that the material world expresses the spiritual reality of God’s creation.
All of which is to say, the external does tell us something about the internal or incorporeal. Just as a person’s words tell us something about the content of their thoughts, so too, does our appearance, tell others something about our mind and our soul.
For example, St. Francis de Sales said, “External cleanliness is a sort of indication of inward good order.”
But as we’ve slowly embraced this dualistic idea that external and internal are distinct and irrelevant to each other, we’ve, in theory, become more accepting of unconventional appearances.