It doesn’t have to have a purpose.
That is something Catholicism had to reteach me.
In my protestant days life was full of useful things. If something wasn’t useful, then it shouldn’t be.
It took the Catholic church to rid me of the disease of utilitarianism. Have you heard of it? It says that you shouldn’t paint because the dishes need to be done and that’s more important. It tells you not to write because everything has already been said. There is nothing new under the sun, so why bother? What are you going to do with that picture of the sunset? Throw it in a photo album to be looked at only occasionally throughout the years? Why play the piano if you aren’t good enough to play for someone else and bring them enjoyment? It says don’t put beautiful things in your sanctuary because the money can be used for something more useful. It says not to buy the painting for your wall, any old thing will do. No need to run, the Bible says exercise profiteth little. Unless you are of the persuasion that everything else is vanity. Then you should go ahead and exercise, a little benefit is better than complete vanity, no? Only read spiritual things: they point to holiness. If you must read something else, only read non-fiction: that is the way to learn something. No candy: it isn’t nutritious. Plain meals are good enough: you only need food for nutrition.
Utilitarianism tells many things.
None of which are useful.
At its core, Utilitarianism ignores beauty. It ignores the itsy bitsy little fact that beauty – true beauty – always points to truth. And both just are.
Beauty just is.
I’m not being melodramatic. I am fighting utilitarianism the only way I know. To indulge in the pitter patter of my fingers on the keyboard. Listening to the staccato of the letters and the punch of the space bar as I pour out my soul to the screen. And I am fighting for my soul as it was my soul that was most injured while I was subjected – however subtly, however naively – to this teaching. It was in a Protestant Church on the West coast in the early nineties. And while my conversion to Catholicism was over 10 years ago now, I am just realizing that depth to which that teaching affects me. Effects me.
Every time I don’t pick up my camera to capture the beauty light scatters across my dusty wood floors. Every time I push in the keyboard without typing a sentence. Every time. I kill beauty and I die just a little bit.
And I’ve nearly killed myself to death.
Welcome, Beauty. Welcome back.