Archives For Creativity

A Theology of Pinterest

Mark Beuving —  February 20, 2013 — 3 Comments

PinterestPinterest can be dangerous. I recently came across an article explaining that Pinterest makes people feel inadequate. If that’s true, then why is it so popular? Why do more than 25 million people spend a chunk of their day pinning bits of the web onto their digital bulletin boards?

Like everything, Pinterest has great potential for good along with the potential to be misused. Let’s start with the good.

From everything I can tell, Pinterest is a hotbed for creativity. Each user “pins” crafts, recipes, parenting tips, or bits of information about anything at all that he or she finds interesting. If you want to know what your friends find clever or inspiring, check their Pinterest boards.

My wife has found a host of fascinating and wonderfully creative craft ideas through Pinterest—and roped me into more than a few woodworking and painting projects at the same time. Pinterest can help you save money (or spend more), teach you how to tackle a difficult project, and inspire you to do otherwise mundane activities with a creative flair.

From a theological perspective, this impulse toward creativity is God-given. The Creator made human beings in His image, and amongst other things, this means that we have been given the ability, desire, and skill to create. God made an incredibly complex world, filled it with unbelievably diverse creatures and endowed it with imaginative properties, and then shaped a garden—not a jungle or a wilderness but a cultivated garden—in the midst of it. Then God creatively formed little culture makers out of the dust of his creation and put them in the midst of that garden “to work it and to keep it” (Gen. 2:15).

So if Pinterest makes us more creative, if it pushes us to use our God-given ability to create in more imaginative ways, then Pinterest is a wonderful tool. Add to that the fact that Pinterest can help you get to know the people in your life in ways that you might not otherwise see, and we can affirm that Pinterest is good.

Pinterest Conspiracy

But what about the concerns? Some mothers, for example, have expressed that when they see the educational crafts and gourmet lunchboxes that other moms are creating with and for their kids, it makes them feel like bad mothers. Others see the style and décor that their friends dream up and feel intimidated. Parenting, not to mention life in general, is difficult enough without pressured to impress your friends while you’re at it.

I see two things we can learn from this concern. The first is that in a sin-stained world, people will always find ways of trying to make themselves look good and feel superior to other people. In this sense, the concern about Pinterest is valid and needs to be heeded. If you find an impulse to make yourself look better than you really are when you use Pinterest, then cut it out—either by logging off or challenging your motives. The value of a mother cannot be determined by the aesthetic merits of her child’s crafts. Don’t let a website make you feel otherwise. But be careful about judging the motives of others—your friends may be pinning with pure hearts.

Which brings me to my second point. There’s no reason that seeing the creativity of others should make us feel inadequate. Most likely, the complaints mentioned above stem from an insecurity deeper than anything Pinterest can cause or solve. If you are not confident in yourself as a human being made in God’s image, then you will find reasons to feel inadequate everywhere. If your identity rests in Christ first and foremost, then the projects your friends are taking on can only inspire and never threaten you.

So how do you use Pinterest? Is it a helpful tool to help you in your goal of glorifying God? Because if you have any other goal for anything in your life, you’re bound to end up with problems.

Acoustic GuitarOur worship leaders often remind us that worship is more than music. And rightly so. Our worship ought to extend far beyond the five songs we sing on Sunday mornings, and what we do during that time often falls far short of the worship mark.

But we should be careful not to underestimate what happens during a Sunday morning worship service. When God’s people gather and combine their voices to express the praise that fills their hearts, that’s a beautiful expression of worship.

But the congregation does not praise alone. In most of our churches, our corporate singing is set to guitars, pianos, drums, and a variety of other instruments. Have you ever considered that those instruments as instruments are praising God?

Here’s what I mean. A guitar is not an instrument of praise only in those moments when its reverberations are accompanied by praise lyrics. Every time a guitar is strummed, its metal strings and wooden body reverberate in exactly the way that God designed them to. God decided what a piece of bronze wire .012 inches thick, stretched across the length of a guitar neck and body, tightened to vibrate at 329.6 hertz, would sound like when struck. God decided that certain woods would resonate in certain ways when hollowed into certain shapes.

In other words, when I strum my guitar, the materials do what God made them to do, and this brings glory to the God who created these materials. This is true for every instrument ever played.

DrumAnd then the human creativity involved in these instruments praises God as well. First, take the formation of the instruments. The Creator put man, the mini-creator, into this world so that he would “work it and keep it” (Gen. 2:15). And that’s exactly what human beings have done throughout history. We use our God-given creativity for great and awful purposes. Instruments are often put to deplorable use, but in themselves they are wonderful creations that exhibit the best in human creativity (with the possible exception of the kazoo). So the existence of a Fender Telecaster praises the God who made Leo Fender and endowed him with the creativity and ingenuity to craft that unique and wonderful instrument.

Finally, there’s the human creativity involved in the crafting of each musical moment in each song. I have been involved in leading worship for 15 years now, and I have gone through a few phases in which I intentionally avoided prolonged song intros, interludes, and endings. When these moments seemed inevitable, I would hide them with a verse on the screen. I didn’t want any attention on the music itself or on the band. This isn’t all bad, and it’s true that we can go crazy with the music we create for corporate worship in order to draw the attention to ourselves. I don’t advocate this.

But I have come to realize that the music is not irrelevant to our worship as we sing together. It’s more than a convenient way to keep our singing in time and on pitch. It’s more than a manipulative tactic to boost our emotions so that our words mean a bit more. The music glorifies God. It resonates according to his design. The dynamics and interplay of the instruments reveal the creativity of God’s mini-creators, and thereby praise the True Creator.

Next week, as you stand amongst God’s people and voice your praise to God, think about all the other elements at work to bring God glory. Your own worship should be all the richer with these things in mind.