Beauty: Revisited


As most people know, last year I gave a seminar/lecture/sermon thingy at my old church, Epiphany Fellowship.  The topic I spoke on was Beauty.  I spent about nine months doing research, reading, talking, and thinking before ultimately delivering it last August.  Recently, I updated some parts of the manuscript for a friend and thought I’d post the updated manuscript.  There aren’t too many changes.  The main updates happened in the last half of the manuscript.  I also updated the language of the manuscript overall to make it more appropriate as a written piece rather than a manuscript for speaking from.  I’m hoping to use this as the core of one of the first books I’m working on that I’ll actually finish.  After the break is the full “Table of Contents” for each part of the blog series I did going through each individual part of the manuscript.  Those blog parts have not yet been updated.  Here are the the updated full written Manuscript, the audio of my “lecture”, and an appendix with the Greek/Hebrew breakdown of the words for “Beauty” in the Bible.

Click for Appendix Pdf

Language Appendix

Click for Manuscript Pdf

Full Manucscript

Click here for sermon audio

Full Audio

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A New Church Home . . .


liberti south philly coverepiphany fellowshipAs of a couple of weeks ago, I am an in-covenant member at Liberti Church: South Philly. One of the reasons I am writing this is to inform those at Epiphany that don’t know this yet. I thought a good number of people knew, but I’m getting more and more texts and messages from people that obviously don’t know this. Sorry for not communicating this to more people.

As many people know, ever since I first got to Philadelphia, I was an avid member of Epiphany Fellowship. In fact, it was a message by Eric Mason delivered at the Village Church in Dallas, Texas that sealed my decision to come to Philly in the first place. When every other seminarian was spending their first few months at school in that awkward period of looking for a church home, I already had mine. The apartment-hunting visits I had made prior to moving let me visit Epiphany months before I actually moved here and I was made to feel the warmth and hospitality of a community that lived in line with the amazing teaching they receive in and out of Sunday mornings.

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Eternity in Our Hearts: The God of Beauty, the Beauty of God


Sargent - Madame Errazuriz-smallThis message was seven months in the making, and this past Friday I finally delivered it.  So, as promised, I’m posting both the audio and the manuscript here.  You can also find a general outline on my Sermon site, and you can also find it at my Podcast.

Click here for sermon audio

Click for Audio

Click for Manuscript Pdf

Click for FULL Manuscript

This is the message I gave at Epiphany Fellowship. The topic was Beauty. The attached manuscript is the full manuscript. It is 43 pages long and contains far more information than I was able to give in a 40 minute message. It includes an appendix where every form of every word in the Greek and Hebrew translated as “Beauty” or “Beautiful” in the English Standard Version of the Bible is ordered by frequency and includes the literal meanings and lexical range of each word.

I really cannot stress how much more is in the manuscript than was preached.  Every section has huge amounts of thought and prayer in it that was not able to be included in the final message.  That’s why throughout the next week or more, I’ll be blogging about every section of this manuscript.  Each post will focus and discuss the fuller version of each section.  If it gets to be too much I’ll spread it out as need be, but we’ll see.  This is where your thoughts and insights will be so helpful and needed, but if you have a question now, don’t feel like you have to wait for that blog post to come to ask.  Engage with any and everything now.

I hope this blesses all of you as much as it did me.  The feedback that evening was more than I knew how to handle and perhaps I’m still processing it.  Thank you all for your grace and affirmation.  For those that came out, I thank you. I very much enjoyed both preparing and delivering this message, and I look forward to further chances to do so.  If you’re interested in giving me such a chance, feel free to use the contact email on the sidebar to the right (or just click here).

Enjoy, and feel free to let me know what you think, and please at least look through some of the manuscript.  Until next time . . .

One small final note: on most every site and post I’ve used to discuss this message I’ve used the attached piece of art.  It is a piece called “Madame Erraruriz” and it is by my favorite American painter John Singer Sargent.  I got to see this painting in an exhibit of his at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and ever since seeing the brushstrokes in this simple painting and seeing the nuances and the subtleties that don’t quite come across from this digital shot, I have long found it to be one of the most beautiful paintings I’ve ever seen.  It is for that reason I have chosen it as the picture that has constantly been up for all these posts.  A few years back I even wrote a poem based on the piece called “Extended Engagement”.  I ended up writing two versions, one less structured than the other to better mirror the feel of the piece, but on this blog you can read both Version 1 and Version 2.  Let me know which you prefer.

Speak your mind: What is Beauty? (A Survey)


Sargent - Madame Errazuriz-small

For those that might run across this post in the future, the message mentioned in this post was written, given, and walked through part-by-part on this blog.  You can see all these posts by clicking here.

So . . . I’m giving a talk in a few weeks on the topic of Beauty.  The first section of the talk will be a discussion attempting to answer the question “What is Beauty?”  To aid me in this I’d like to extend this question to the world at large.  So, I’m asking all of you out there: what do you think beauty is?

Feel free to take your time or just give me the first thing that pops into your head, or even give me more than one idea if you want. This is totally open.  Leave a comment.  Email me.  Facebook me.  Whatever you want.

Or, leave a joke if you want – but only if it’s a good one.  Here’s the dictionary definition for “Beauty” to get you started thinking:

the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations (as shape, color, sound, etc.), a meaningful design or pattern, or something else (as a personality in which high spiritual qualities are manifest).

So, that’s what Dictionary.com thinks.  What do you think Beauty is?

(art: “Madame Errazuriz” by John Singer Sargent)

The Big News II (I’m not leaving Philly, it seems)


I, Paul Burkhart, now have a real job.

Like, a real real one.

Yesterday, I was accepted for a position at a program called Project Transition as a “Psychiatric Rehabilitation Counselor” (assuming that my background checks clear, of course. Until then, I can’t actually say I’m “hired” per se, I’m still a “candidate”). In short, this is my dream job. I will have a case load of about 5 individuals recovering from various mental disorders who I will pour into their lives trying to help them reintegrate into society. I will teach classes to everyone in the program on various parts of living life healthily. I will be doing assessments and creating treatment plans for my case load. The people I will work with seem amazing. Benefits kick in after only a month. It’s really good pay (at least for an entry level job). I will even have my own office space (and desk!).

The philosophy of the organization is right in line with mine: that people are not defined by their disease. They are fundamentally healthy individuals struggling with a disorder, rather than the view that would treat them as primarily disordered individuals struggling for health. It was so exciting sitting there as they told me everything about the organization. That reminds me, the interview itself was strange too. It was one of those weird circumstances that seems to surreal and – for lack of a better word – supernatural. In the entire interview I didn’t say more than a couple of sentences. They didn’t really ask me many questions. It was more like “hey, this is who we are. Wanna join us?”. It was so strange. I have the weakest resume one could imagine. I have waiting tables at Applebee’s and tutoring elementary school students on there and that’s it. Hardly the resume to get someone a professional counseling job. But nevertheless, I walked in, and the founder of the organization had made one of his monthly visits to this particular site just to interview me. When I got there, everyone already knew my name and who I was. When the founder had to leave the interview early and leave me with the site coordinators, he had the secretary send down paperwork to hire me, even before the interview was actually over! (Running the risk of sounding overly charismatic or Osteen-ish) I felt like I was walking in “supernatural favor”. Or something like that.

So what does all this mean? Well firstly, even though I loved and adored my time in Richmond the past few weeks and really wanted to move back there, it seems that God has intended for me to have longer-term plans for Philly. This job really is something I’m going to want to stay at for awhile. The people I will be around, the experiences I’ll get, and the real-word education I’ll receive (all while still taking WTS counseling classes) will be invaluable to me. So I’m here to stay, it seems. This would probably have been a problem a couple months ago, but recently Philadelphia has opened up to me (specifically South Philly) and I have met so many people I really want to live life deeply with for a while longer before moving on (not to mention my biggest bromances are here and here. Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten you, you, and you).

So here’s to God for blessing me far more than I could ever imagine. I pray this drives me further to Him and doesn’t make me feel like I don’t need him now. Because I do. I’ve definitely been seeing that greatly the past few weeks, and this has been the first little ray of light to burst out from the haze I’ve been in.

Philly, here I stay.