Consider how the lilies grow in the fields;
they do not work, they do not spin;
and yet, I tell you,
even Solomon in all his splendour was not attired like one of these.
Matthew 6:28-29 (NEB)
"In reading hundreds of years of Christian literature, it is not until the seventeenth century that anyone ever climbs a mountain in order to bask in its greatness and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Christians were so unworldly, so ascetic, that they had no proper appreciation for the joy of nature."
The above quote is from a 1991 seminar transcript by Bob Brinsmead (Jesus and a Post-Modern Worldview). Certainly there are passages in the Bible - such as the one from Matthew and others in Psalms - that can be read as demonstrating some sense of aesthetic appreciation of the natural world. But the contention here is that this kind of awe disappeared as the church rose, that by implication the original Christian view of creation was entirely utilitarian.
Can anyone cite a church father or other Christian source prior to the seventeenth century to the contrary?