The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Thursday, August 28, 2003
Moving Experience
Today we move the bulk of our stuff up to our new home in Newberg and begin living in ernest there (we have already spent several nights there). The addition is still 2-3 weeks away, so things will be cramped. But we won't have the huge commute to school and church, which is a relief.

Who builds the City of God?
Joel Garver pointed out this link to abstracts of papers delivered at the Radical Orthodoxy and the Reformed Tradition conference. Lambert Zuidervaart's entry caught my eye: Good Cities, or Cities of the Good? Radical Augustinians, Societal Structures, and Normative Critique

"This paper examines the nexus of societal structures and normative critique in Radical Orthodoxy and the reformational tradition. To get at this nexus, the paper thematizes the appropriation of Augustine's City of God in the concluding chapters of two books: John Milbank's Theology and Social Theory, and Graham Ward's Cities of God. Both chapters make evident the awkward position that Radical Orthodoxy takes up with respect to both contemporary society and contemporary social sciences. On the one hand, contemporary society can participate in the "city of God," and social sciences offer insights into what hinders such participation. On the other hand, what blocks full participation is precisely the modern/postmodern "world-view" or "ontology" that drives contemporary social sciences."

How should (can?) the members of "contemporary society" (presumably those outside the Covenant Community) "participate" in the City of God? Why would they want to do so? Should we sit back and let them contribute to Christendom project without resistance? Won't their open participation undermine the result?

Don't get me wrong. As I argue in Plowing, the cultural accomplishements of unbelievers can and and are appropriated by Christians and used (with discernment) to build City of God (i.e. Christian Culture). In this Christians serve as priests mediating between the Christian and non-Christian worlds. But that is a far cry from allowing direct participation.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003
While I'm at it
R.C. Sproul is doing a series on Art on this week's Renewing Your Mind radio broadcasts.

It only Takes a Spark

Now here is an intreguing book:

Monday, August 25, 2003
Culture or Ministries of Mercy?
Quote from a recent Breakpoint:

"'The Church, then, is a counterculture that has a different vision of the world than that of people who are not in the Church,' writes [Robert] Webber. He goes on to say that younger evangelicals can change their world through a worldview that works, "not by power politics, but by a presence of humble servanthood." They want to transform culture by rebuilding communities and meeting the needs of the least of us: the poor, homeless, prisoners, and their children—those who have no advocate. "

I've said this before: culture is not politics. Politics is a necessary infrastructure to the making of culture (as is the family). Culture shapes politics (and the familiy) and vice versa. But lets not get the two mixed up. The same is true of ministries of mercy/healing. These are shaped to some extent by culture, but they are not culture.

Had a short, but delightful break at the OPC family camp in the foothills of the Cascades in central Oregon. Met fellow Canon Press author Richard Hannula who has a new book on Northwest history. He's an elder at Faith PCA in Tacoma, which we really must visit some day.

My projects in our new (existing) house are almost completed. We hope to move in Thursday even though the new addition is still about 2-3 weeks away. Thank God for my new next-door neighbor Ralph Allen (who also teaches at Veritas School) who graciously let me use his tools including his chop saw (a great tool).

Tuesday, August 19, 2003
Back on Monday
I will be spending the next couple of days working on our New/berg house and then going to Eastern Oregon for OPC family camp.

Maybe you can read Schilder's Christ and Culture while I'm away and explain to me what it means when I get back.

Monday, August 18, 2003
Essay: "Toward a Christian Culture"

From the Center for Cultural Leadership, by Rod Martin:

"When we speak of a Christian culture, we envision a society suffused with the truth God has shown us in His Word. This cannot be imposed: it is spiritual to begin with, and requires the broad acceptance of ideas which the heart cannot hear without a grace and repentance only God can give. This sort of culture cannot be built in a day, or even a generation; and yet, as more and more see His wisdom, both in principles and results, they will act upon it, and transform everything they touch. As salt they will preserve what remains, and as light they will dispel the darkness, until their light shines so brightly that all can see, and the nations marvel at the wealth and the wisdom of their land."

Technology and Progress
Another link gem from the Highlands Study Center (R.C. Sproul Jr.'s site) on positive nature of technology from Reason magazine.

Technology is inevitable. Technology must me embraced. But technology must NEVER be in the driver's seat. We must rule over technology, not let it rule over us.

This was the warning from Jaques Ellul nearly forty years ago. And it is why we need to pay attention to the Amish (see my old post on this here) and surprisingly wise stance adopting technology.

On the Home Front 6
Spent Thursday, Friday and Saturday on house projects. Thus I was away from the internet and blogging.

Finished installing the pocket door and the closet partitions. Upstairs wall is framed and partially insulated. And downstairs bedroom is no longer pink, but a very cool Miami Vice light teal.

And there are now four walls on the addition.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003
New Movie on Luther
I saw on R.C. Sproul Jr.'s site that there is new movie on the life of Luther coming out this fall.

One thing is certain: if it is true to Luther's vision, it won't be a Christian movie!

Leisure Roots

"Here is what I have seen: It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him; for it is his heritage." (Ecclesiastes 5:18)

First, by God's grace, we make culture. Then, by God's grace, we get to enjoy it. This in large measure is what leisure is about. Just a God "took time" to enjoy His creation (Gen 2:1-3), we do the same, following the divine example.

Jerram Barrs wonders if Christians are afraid of leisure here. It seems to me that if they're not afraid, they are at least embarassed.

On the Home Front 5
I spent all day yesterday (8:30-6) transforming trees into walls with pocket doors and closet partitions. While the contractors work on the addition, we are busy making adjustments to the rest of the (existing) house for us to move in - hopefully by the end of the month.

The foundation is in on the addition, as are the floor joists and the subfloor. Framing should begin tomorrow. My contractor has some pictures. Hopefuller I will be able to post them soon.

Thursday, August 07, 2003
Libertarianism vs. New Urbanism
While I'm on the topic, I came across this debate on New Urbanism featured on the Acton Institute's Markets & Morality. (html version begins here)

Here are some quotes that caught my eye:

(from planner Frank Duany) "The difference between the New Urbanism and Smart Growth is that while both desire the same outcome, the New Urbanism is conceived as private-sector and market-driven while Smart Growth is based on government policy and proscriptions.”

"Are New Urbanists conspiring to change land-use regulations? You bet they are, because the land-use regulations codified during the great era of suburbanization and that currently represent the law of the land effectively outlaw TND [traditional neighborhood design] . . . [TND elements] are outlawed and subjected to arduous variance and review procedures that cost TND developers far more time and money than does conventional development."

"There are already signs in the United States that the property rights alternatives of which Hayek speaks are evolving to internalize land-use externalities in spite of regulatory impediments. The growth of private contractual communities in particular, arguably as a response to the failures of conventional models of urban planning, illustrates the potential of market processes to develop solutions to a variety of land-use problems. Market innovations such as homeowners associations, condominium developments, and private communities have developed rapidly in recent years."

This I think is the key: voluntary involvement; not restrictions placed on free citizens from the civil authorities.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003
What Do Baseball, New Urbanism, and Christianity Have in Common?
Find out the answer here and here. And for a bonus, check out this very intriguing article from First Things.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003
Little Things
The Lord graced me with a glowing rainbow this morning on my way to work. Rainbows are not that unusual here in the Willamette Valley, but an early morning rainbow is very unusual. As is rain in August. My lawn is shocked.

Monday, August 04, 2003
New & Notable Books on Culture
Here what I want to get my hands on soon!

Steve Schlissel was our pastor before we moved to Oregon.

You can read an excerpt from Moore's book here.

Wow! A Christian interaction with New Urbanism. Read more here.

Friday, August 01, 2003
Going Ape over Worship?

"Dr. Godfrey acknowledged himself haunted by the words of Robert Dabney who, speaking to what he saw as dangerous musical trends of the nineteenth century said, "Millions of souls are in hell because they were unable to distinguish the elevation of animal feelings from genuine religious affections." It is easy to manipulate emotions, Dr. Godfrey said, so that people think they have had a profound experience, and if it takes place in the context of religious language, they'll think it's a profound religious experience. But is it, or is it only emotional manipulation? "

--From an article on a speech given by Bob Godfrey on CCM's place in worship services