By Elizabeth Prata
I’m a fan of The Great Pottery Throwdown. It’s a reality competition show in Britain, featuring contestants who make various ceramics out of various types of clay, and then are judged on the results according to various criteria. They are successively eliminated until one is left standing as the winning Potter.
Keith Brymer Jones is a Master Potter, and has been judge on the show since its debut in 2015. Jones is fantastically talented designer and potter, and has an entire line of ceramics and homeware. His knowledge comes across on the show either when he demonstrates a technique to the contestants, or when he judges their items.
Jones is a huge hulk of a man. He looks to be well over 6 feet, and has a huge chest and long arms. Either he was born that way or his decades of hunching over a potter’s wheel and lugging tons of clay has made him so. One would expect so large of a man to be a “strong silent type” where “still waters run deep” or at least more reserved and manly, as all the stereotypes go. But no. Keith Brymer Jones is well known for easily and often shedding tears on the show.
He cries at the beauty of the pieces. He cries at the failure of the pieces. He cries at the dedication and perseverance of the contestants. He cries and cries!
The odd juxtaposition of such a large man so easily crying in public, who sobs over sensitive things such as beauty, has been well noted online,
This dungaree-wearing gentle giant is reduced to blubbing several times an episode, and tears fall down his cheeks simply in the name of beautiful ceramics. (source)
But Keith has been the star of the show since series one, sobbing away, reminding us all that sometimes your emotions overtake you just because you have such a strong appreciation of fine craft. (source)
After some brief initial teasing about it, Jones decided to embrace his tears, saying to the UK Guardian, “I get emotional,” says the master potter, “because it’s a craft I love. It is my life. When I see a potter communicating their creativity via something they’ve made, I can’t help but cry. You’re watching imagination come to life. It’s so special.“
I appreciate fine craft, too. I had teared up at viewing an artistic masterpiece. I did when I saw Michaelangelo’s David, and Botticelli’s Primavera, before I was saved. I also appreciate the skill and hard work involved in producing such beauty. RC Sproul used to teach and preach about beauty quite often. Sproul said,
It is interesting to me that people of all ages and from all civilizations and cultures are fascinated with jewels and precious metals for no reason other than their beauty. These things are precious to us not because we can eat them or use them as tools, but because they serve as adornments. By their inherent beauty, they enhance human beauty and the work of man’s hands. (Sproul, source)
I know another man, this one personally, not a TV man. He is a good man. He loves the Lord Jesus Christ, and teaches about him as well as preaches often. He is a student of the word. Mainly, he is a child of God, and intensely sensitive to the fact that we humans are depraved wretches and graciously saved from God’s wrath by grace. The life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ stirs Him. He teaches of the Good News of the Gospel and can hardly do so when mentioning these things without crying.
He loves the Lord so much and His Good News so awes him, that he tears up at the mere thought of how He saved wretches like us.
I got to thinking about the contrast between these two men. I have no issue about men shedding tears, no, that’s not it. The contrast is in their perspective. It’s in the object that moves them to tears. One man cries upon seeing the clay. The other cries upon seeing the Potter.
The Potter and the Clay
The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will announce My words to you.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make. Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Am I not able, house of Israel, to deal with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord.
May I never lose my awe and gratitude upon seeing the Potter, who makes us His clay pots. Some are for common use and some are for honorable use. (Romans 9:21). He does as he wills with His clay. God Himself appreciates beauty.
And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. (Exodus 28:2)
His beauty is beauty from which ALL other beauty stems. There is nothing beautiful that doesn’t come from the beauty that is God and His Son Jesus Christ and His Spirit who remakes the dishonorable clay into beautiful vessels for His use and for His glory.
As we read and study the Scriptures, we have to come to the conclusion that there is an ultimate source of beauty — the character of God. Just as the normative standard for goodness and truth is God, so the ultimate standard of beauty is God, and He is very interested in beauty in His creation. (Sproul, source).
I can admire a man who appreciates beauty and is even moved to tears because of it. But I admire a man even more who appreciates the source of all beauty, the very beautiful Jesus Christ and His Good News of the Gospel.