Herman Melville once said “The reason the mass of men fear God, and at bottom dislike him, is because they rather distrust His heart and fancy him all brain, like a watch.” Alas – how true this is that so many folks have really only heard about God’s seemingly insensitive expectations, his rules, and they have no experience with his heart.
I have a deeply held belief that our universe is far more beautiful than it is functional. I also think that God made it that way as a reflection of his own nature; that Beauty is a fundamental aspect of all reality because it is one the most essential parts of God’s heart.
The creation story unfolds like a symphony that builds over six days. The movements start broad and wide as He divides light from dark, the sky from the sea but turns ever more detailed and intricate, ever more personal and intimate. I enjoy the form and smell of a rose but we are pierced by the soulful, deep eyes of an elephant. It’s like watching a painting being made which starts with the wide, rough brush strokes that patiently resolve into Mona Lisa’s enigmatic grin. If we’re willing to linger just a bit before continuing to the garden scene, it’s a wonderful glimpse into God’s profound joy and His commitment to beauty for beauty’s sake. After all, I dare say we don’t NEED the stunning variety of flowers we enjoy. We don’t NEED Maui. The ecology doesn’t REQUIRE the fantastic array of horns and antlers, clouds and seascapes, diamonds and pearls. If we are willing to believe that these things were in fact made we have to admit that it’s all a bit flamboyant.
And that’s [part of] how I’ve come to understand this God I love.
In fact, I can say in hindsight that my earliest years in the faith were headed down Melville’s lonesome road and while I was learning a lot about God – I had never met Him. But all along He was wooing me through the beauty of the world. It was only later that I recognized where all those gifts came from and it started that critical move for me when God began the migration from my head to my heart.
With Soma Games, I decided from the very beginning that a central commitment to artistic excellence was non-negotiable. In an industry that generally swaddles its visuals in grunge and rust and debris a commitment to beauty in our games may seem polyanish. But if we don’t make our virtual world at least subjectively reflect what I see as a deep insight into this real world, then how could it possibly reflect the heart of God? In the Arc series, this has meant hand painted background mattes, attention to every visual detail, and wonderfully crafted music. We’ve been so glad to get the comments we’ve seen in G that people certainly notice the effort we put in here, and while they may not know it, I feel like the human heart is always drawn to God when it is pierced by beauty.
Good ol’ Ludwig Van said, “Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.” The same can be said for all of the things that sek to embody beauty. For Soma, that means taking the artistic aspects of our games with great seriousness and sobriety. It means visual and musical excellence and it means depicting worlds that appropriately reflect God’s heart.