Utilitarian and Beauty
Often time life seems to be at a cross purpose. When I was younger I wanted nice things, things I could not afford and could not take proper care of. Now that I am older I still appreciate nice things but am more Utilitarian.
I have learned the value of things and to appreciate frugality. There is also a certain amount of guilt in going for nice things when I see a world around me with so many needs.
The item I framed for my wife for Christmas looks very nice in our home, but the money I used to do that could have fed a child in the 3rd world for months. This is true of many of our extravagances in our lives.
As a Christian I feel a deep need to reach out to those in need with practical help and the Gospel.
On the flip side I think our God is a God of Creation and being with him for eternity will also be an active of Creativity and Worship. God has made us Creative People, we express this creativity in so many ways; music, art, architecture, landscaping, the creation of beauty in the things we use around us, and in many ways I have not even thought of.
Admittedly sometimes this creativity is abused and results in things that are actually an affront to God, but most the time not. I believe even things that do not appear to represent something spiritual or directly glorifying to God are and can be glorifying just in the beauty and the character of the item itself.
Take a sports car that may cost 6 figures. This is certainly beyond my means and has very little practical application in terms of meeting human needs. But the engineering, the design detail, and the precision of it all can be a thing of beauty and to some degree represent a reflection of God - being that our God is a God of precision, detail and beauty, but the car itself should never be viewed as a substitute for God. The work of our hands in creating this beauty is a testament to the power of God in his creation of us.
I will probably never have a car like this and do not spend my days dreaming about it, but I am glad I live in a world with cars like that. (Well sometimes I dream about it a little).
Now let's look at a culture that tried to be very Utilitarian. Everything was reduced to the most practical (for the supposed good of all the people). The former Soviet Union was about Utilitarian in almost all aspects of it. It had boring houses, boring cars, and inefficiency in all parts of the culture. It crushed the human Spirit.
I go to a very modern church. Our buildings and grounds are very Utilitarian, we have a lot to accomplish and are working within a budget. What we have built has all been with practicality in mind and with the goal of meeting the needs of people without glorifying the buildings.
I have seen some of the great Cathederals in Europe with all the amazing art work. Some laugh at the extravagance, but for many of the people who spent their lives working on them it was an act of worship and should be appreciated as such.
I do not know what the balance should be between Utilitarianism and Beauty should be. But these are some of the things I think about. I do know that all of our works should be to the glory of God.