The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Tuesday, September 02, 2008
More on Culture Making
the book by Andy Crouch.

Review by Gideon Strauss in Books & Culture

A thorough and fairly critical review by John Seel

Seel's lambasts Crouch for his failure to emphasize the role of institutions in culture-making. Instead, following the approach I largely espouse, he focuses on how individuals can and should get culturally involved. I think that this small-scale, local approach at the present cultural circumstances, makes the most sense.

I suspect that the way one views culture has a lot to do with the macro vs micro approach. If you see culture in terms paintings, novels, poems and ravioli, the micro/local approach makes sense - it doesn't take much to get started in making faithful Christian culture on this scale. But if you see culture in terms of movies and ipods, individuals - even rich individuals - can't cut it. These kinds of cultural artifacts need institutions to make them.

Of course this is not an eithor/or situation but a both/and. Though in the near term the local option seems to be the smarter play.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008
More Cultural Convergence
I first heard about this book in a review from Comment:

Additional info and excerpts can be found here:

Covers much of the same terrain as Plowing.

Here's a quote I like:

Cultural goods too will be transformed and redeemed, yet they will be recognizably what they were in the old creation—or perhaps more accurately, they will be what they always could have been. The new Jerusalem will be truly a city: a place suffused with culture, a place where culture has reached its full flourishing. It will be the place where God's instruction to the first human being is fulfilled, where all the latent potentialities of the world will be discovered and released by creative, cultivating people

Tuesday, August 05, 2008
"a clumsy tumble like airport luggage"
So reads Larry Woiwode's self-description of his writing. Wrestling. Work. And Survival.

Here are a couple of reviews of Woiwode's most recent memoir, A Step from Death, one recently published in Books & Culture, the other from the Christian Science Monitor.

Larry is an excellent example of cultural providence. A hard life has - in the hands of the Potter - resulted in a rich body of literature.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008
The Loss of Reading
The quotes are taken from an article from the New York Times looking at the effect of technology on the way people read:

"What we are losing in this country and presumably around the world is the sustained, focused, linear attention developed by reading. I would believe people who tell me that the Internet develops reading if I did not see such a universal decline in reading ability and reading comprehension on virtually all tests."

-- Dana Gioia, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts

"Reading a book, and taking the time to ruminate and make inferences and engage the imaginational processing, is more cognitively enriching, without doubt, than the short little bits that you might get if you're into the 30-second digital mode."

-- Ken Pugh, a cognitive neuroscientist at Yale

This makes me that much more thankful for the Classical Christian education my kids receive.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008
Thinking about Trees

Trees are surely one of the marvelous parts of God's creation. They figure prominantly in scripture both in the original garden and the New Jerusalem as well as the place (figuratively at least) of crucifixion.

Essayist Alan Jacob's has a really fine piece in Books and Culture on trees well worth the read.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Landscape Origins
According to one source, the two most used words in English taken from the Dutch language are aparteid and landscape. Here is the etymology of landscape from American Heritage Dictionary via Answers.com:

[Dutch landschap, from Middle Dutch landscap, region : land, land + -scap, state, condition (collective suff.).]

It would be interesting to probe more the meaning of "scap" in Dutch.

Here is an additonal note on the origin of "landscape" fom Answers.com:

WORD HISTORY Landscape, first recorded in 1598, was borrowed as a painters' term from Dutch during the 16th century, when Dutch artists were pioneering the landscape genre. The Dutch word landschap had earlier meant simply “region, tract of land” but had acquired the artistic sense, which it brought over into English, of “a picture depicting scenery on land.” Interestingly, 34 years pass after the first recorded use of landscape in English before the word is used of a view or vista of natural scenery. This delay suggests that people were first introduced to landscapes in paintings and then saw landscapes in real life.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Postumous Accolades
for Larry Norman's resently released (after his death in February) The Anthology (Rebel Poet, Jukebox Balladeer) which has received a review in Rolling Stone .

Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Friday, June 06, 2008
Work: Back to the Basics
as in forming a biblical view of work. Work Research Foundation has just published a fine article on this from Ray Pennings. Here's a snippet:

Reformed, Calvinist teaching regarding work can be summarized as follows:

1. God works, and we are called to bear His image;
2. God derives satisfaction from His work;
3. God provides for us through our work;
4. God has commanded man to work, and to work within the framework of His commands;
5. God holds us accountable for our work and expects to be acknowledged through it;
6. God provides particular gifts designed to meet particular needs in the advancement of His kingdom;
7. The Fall has radically affected our work. Work became toil; thorns and thistles frustrate our efforts. Fallen man seeks to glorify himself rather than his Creator through work;
8. Work is an individual as well as a social activity;
God takes pleasure in beauty, and the Scriptures do not focus simply on the functional and utilitarian aspects of work; and
9. Christ worked as part of His active obedience, and the believer's work through Christ is part of that obedience.

A nice summary, dontcha think?

The article is also really worth reading for the excerpts from William Perkins "A Treatise of the Vocations or Callings of Men" which I had never heard of before. Perkins - the quintessential Puritan - sound like a Kyperian when he says:

Every particular calling must be practiced in and with the general calling of a Christian. It is not sufficient for a man in the congregation, and in common conversation, to be a Christian, but in his very personal calling, he must show himself to be so. For example, a Magistrate must not only in general be a Christian, as every man is, but he must be a Christian Magistrate, in bearing the sword.

Thursday, June 05, 2008
More Busy Times
This is going to quite a summer! Our oldest daughter is getting married in July (to the son of neo-Calvinist history prof at George Fox University here in Newberg). My oldest son is busy gearing up for college applications next fall to a program in industrial design (we visited U of O Product Design program on Monday). And there is the usual array of house projects: I hope to install a retracting attic stair next week.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Frame on Culture
from Doctrine of the Christian Life By John M. Frame:

Chapter 45: What is Culture?

Chapter 46: Christ and Culture

Chapter 47: Christ and Our Culture

Chapter 48: Christians In Our Culture

Chapter 49: Culture in the Church

All of these are available via pdf, Word, html.

HT: Mark Horne

Friday, May 23, 2008
The Times they Are a Changin'
I suppose this isn't exactly new news. But Cnet has a piece on how the old audiophile approach to music is all but dead. The "high fidelity" approach to music is all but dead (or at the very least has been pushed to a far-off corner niche).

It is striking how difference music listening is today. Ipods and the like have made music into a ubiquitous, mostly solo affair. When I was a college undergraduate audio systems were a pretty big deal (often literally). Listening to records was often a communal activity in a particular space. Now this is all but a ghost from the past.

Music today is a commodity--ripped for free track by track, or bought for 99 cents and eventually added to a vast digital library, either destined to become a favorite, or more likely forgotten for good after a couple of listens. Today's music players are regarded the same way--mostly as disposable. Either the player will work for two or three years before sputtering and dying, or a newer, faster, smaller, better player that has far more cachet will be released in six months.

"I often wonder about the 30-year-old iPod," Guttenberg mused. "Will someone still use an iPod in 30 years," like audiophiles do high-end speakers?

The answer is, of course, not a chance.