I have inadvertently begun a small series on faith and the arts. I think that this will be the last essay in the series. Of course, I didn’t think that there was going to be any series at all. So, we’ll see. If you missed the first two, I would love for you to read about how ethics helps us live like a great jazz pianist and about some of the things that music teaches us about God. Today I’m moving away from music and toward the visual arts. Specifically, architecture.
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Are facts and logic the only things that point toward truth, or can beauty and good artistry move you toward the same truth?
Does what you surround yourself with eventually affect your character, moving you closer to or farther from godliness?
Brent Hull, author of Building a Timeless House in an Instant Age, believes so. Hull is a master house builder, trained in the art of historic design and museum quality preservation. He believes that the home you build communicates something about who you are.
The reason we study the pyramids in Egypt is that they tell us about Egyptians, leading us to an understanding of what they believed, what they valued, how they lived…The process of homebuilding has been so commoditized that we don’t recognize the fact that our choices reflect our values…The decisions we make for our homes weave a tale of our character, value, history, and heart. What happens when we examine our homes and lives with the same lens of discovery we place on the Egyptian pyramids? What do our homes say about us?
Regardless of the kind of task that is currently in your focus, is your aim to create beauty or is it on the bottom line? Are you more concerned with creating something timeless or with getting the most for your dollar? Are you dishonest about what impression you present to the world while being content on the inside with cheap imitations?
These are weighty questions, questions that contain ideas that relate to more than just house building.
I don’t plan to build a house any time soon, but even as I furnish and change the inside of my home, what am I teaching my children? Am I teaching them that craftsmanship and quality furnishings that take time to create or to save up for are worthwhile or am I teaching them that it is better to buy cheap things that will soon break just so that I can gather more stuff?
As I create our home, whether I’m building something or just purchasing a sofa, how can I communicate the values of honesty, integrity, strength, and wisdom to my children?
This is something I’ve pondered before in a broader sense, wondering what has happened in the Christian art world to the quality of our art. If God is creator and if beauty points back to Him, then Christians should be leading the world in the quality of our music, our literature, our visual arts, and yes, our homes as well.
Why would you build an ugly home?
Hull writes that many authors from the Renaissance through the early 1900s wrote about character in buildings. The character of buildings and the character of community were thought to be closely tied together. Build honest homes and you will get honest citizens.
Don’t I want my children to chase quality rather than chasing price?
And if the home is the place where we spend the most time, the place we want our children to return to, the place that is meant to be a safe haven from the world, then home is the place where we should put beauty and quality above all else.
To build a timeless house today, we need to desire beauty over cost. We need to wonder if building cheap houses doesn’t cause us to become a cheap culture. Now is the time to examine ourselves, our motives, and our hearts. When we do, the rewards are immense; high quality and meaningful design in our homes are but two of the many benefits. They endure even after we are gone. They enrich our lives for generations. ~ Brent Hull, Building A Timeless House in an Instant Age