As I write this my mind leaps back to freshman year and I feel a bit like I am parroting Socrates in the Republic, asking about "the good". Okay, not quite. I know that God alone is truly good (Luke 18:19); he is The Good.
I'm not talking here about good on a scale from poor, average, good to excellent. I'm asking the question: "What makes up a good book, a good movie, a good piece of art, a good ____?" This good is referring to what is best, pleasing, wholesome, perfect. In the beginning, all of creation was good.
Surely we all long for what is good; we only settle for the mediocre when we have other motives, such as avoiding disappointment.
So what does make something good? In the case of a movie or a book, I usually look for several things (and I realize that even these criteria may be subjective!). The story must be well told, with some degree of creativity and artistry or excellence. In addition, it should be thought provoking. This does not necessarily mean that the movie or book has a specific intended message. Above all, it must have a good story. Many have probably written books on what makes a good story, but I remember something Donald Miller said when I heard him speak. He said that there has to be something at stake. The hero's choice to do the right thing can't be easy; the hero must risk something in order to be a hero. It's something that has stuck with me, because I think we all want our lives to be a good story. I do.
Can something be called good because it has stood the test of time? It does appear that many good stories and things like that have lasted a long time. An awful lot of bad things have done that, too, haven't they? On the other hand, some things seem to be made more perfect in their very transience. A butterfly only lives a short while.
Do those things which we call good strike a chord in us of recognition, or is that feeling one of longing for something that is outside of us?
As you can see, I have left you with more questions than answers. In this topic, however, I think that is how it should be. Shouldn't we always be asking what is good, and seeking to find that which is truly good? I am confident our search is not in vain.