The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Thursday, January 29, 2004
One Movie I Won't Be Seeing
is Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ." I am convinced that any direct portrayal of Son of God (incarnate or otherwise) is a violation of the Second Commandment. This used to be one of the bedrock reformed/presbyterian distinctives (along with the Sabbath) that is now being discarded by many.

It therefore grieves me see, for example, Brian Godawa's the positive review on Christianculture.com (also posted on PCAnews.com). There have also been some interesting discussions of this issue on Barb Harvey's blog and at Matt Colvin's. I would also recommend John Murray's brief article on the topic.

The Westminster catachisms are quite clear on the topic. Godawa is aware of this, and attempts to briefly answer those who would find depicting Christ dramatically to be objectionable. Thus he argues:

"For my purposes it is sufficient to note that any understanding of the second commandment must do justice to the fact of the incarnation of God in the Person of Jesus of Nazareth. Moses? statement in Deuteronomy 4:15, offered as the ground of the second commandment, ?you saw no form of any kind the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully," can no longer be said of the incarnate God. "

I am afraid that Brian overlooks a key biblical fact: that many of the Isaelites did in fact see God (Ex. 24:9-11!). So the reason why they (and we) were not allowed to make images of God was not because they had no visual experience of God. The incarnation therefore does not trump the Second Commandment.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004
Book News
I just saw that Plowing is officially out-of-print. It still can be obtained at number of other outlets including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and (gasp) Walmart I think the best price it at DiscerningReader.com.

I also came across this nice short review of Plowing over the Hearts & Minds bookstore, who also sells the book.

Monday, January 26, 2004
Christian Culture?

(Find out what's going on here.)

Le Moyne Update
The auction results are in on the Huguenot artist I featured on Jan 12. The painting pictured on that post of carnations went for $120,000! The top price for his works in this auction was this delightful study of apples and nuts for $142K. This one went for $112K.

To put this in perspective: we bought our house for $112K!

Thursday, January 22, 2004
Who said:

"All of us -- parents and schools and government -- must work together to counter the negative influence of the culture, and to send the right messages to our children."

Wednesday, January 21, 2004
Good Book/Movie (What Christian Culture Looks Like)
I had always heard bad things about Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. That it was just sentimental propaganda written to help free slaves. Then I saw this excellent video version of the book, which, if true to the spirit of the original, turned out to be a profound story of Christian faith and endurance of suffering for the sake of Christ.

I still haven't read the book. But Phillip E. Johnson has and discusses its merits in Touchstone magazine.

Thursday, January 15, 2004
Looking for a Good "Cultural Refuge"
From an article on the Christian and Mainstream markets, by John Fischer on the Breakpoint site:

"The Christian bookstore, for instance, which used to exist to provide Bibles and other tools to help Christians along in their life of faith, is now an alternative form of Barnes and Noble, promising entertainment and education with the Christian stamp of approval. Much more than a place for finding resources to help live the Christian life, the Christian bookstore is now a refuge providing a cultural context for that life."

I wish that we had Christian bookstrores that were a true alternative to Barnes & Noble or Borders. But how many bookstores of any sort can I find books by Canon Press, P&R or Banner of Truth and the like? Where will I hear poetry readings, author talks, chamber music, etc.? Sure there are a handfull of the Coffee house/bookstore/art gallery places that attempt this, but they barely graze the surface. And (saddest of all) where is the community to support this?

Wednesday, January 14, 2004
Heard/Read Recently

"A metaphor can be more precise then a direct statement" -- Steve Martin, interview in Publisher's Weekly

"History isn't circular; history rhymes." -- an interviewee on NPR All Things Considered

Monday, January 12, 2004
Another Cool Huguenot Artist
A good while back (Oct. 2002) I blogged on Bernard Palissy, a fine Huguenot sculptor who created wonderful studies of nature.

You can add Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues to the list of French Reformed artists plying their craft to the glory of God!. (Be sure to click on the illustration on the left -- there are four works illustrated by him.)

Lights, Camera ... Stillness
I hate these kind of articles. I suppose you didn't know that Vermeer was a film director.

Next thing you know, they'll be trying to pass Vermeer off as a photographer.


Friday, January 09, 2004
More on Piper's Pessimism
A While back (back in November) I commented on John Piper's article on culture which had been reprinted in the New Horizons (my denomination's mag) and was subsequently reprinted in World.

I had toyed with the idea a writing a letter to the editor (of New Horizons) but never got around to it. But Greg Baus did send in a letter with which I agree (as did several others). Greg has recently commented further on the topic and I have written a comment in response.

There are many in the OPC with a Kuperian vision of building a distinctively Christian culture (including some of my fellow church members!). But there are far too many who are "spiritual" ammillenialists, who see Christianity's (and the Kingdom's) essence as being spiritual and not physical. As such they are strange bed fellows with dispensationalists (and other premillenialists such a Piper) who have little real regard for culture.

Its time to admit that there is a lot more to being reformed than the five solas. As such Piper (as wonderful an author as he surely is!) doesn't cut it. We shouldn't go chasing after his opinion on cultural matters.

Thursday, January 08, 2004
Digging Out
The Native Tourist has been waylayed by snow and ice here in the Great Northwest. I haven't had this much fun since we came out west in 1993. In fact the past two weeks have given us more snow than we have had in the previous nine winters combined.

You can watch it thaw here (George Fox campus, three blocks north of where we live).

Monday, January 05, 2004
True Confession
On Christmas day, I was talking to my niece, and it came up that I had never, ever seen an episode of Seinfeld. She was flabbergasted.

It is obvious that I am utterly incapable of relating to the members of contemporary society.

Excuse me, I have to back to my hole.

Friday, January 02, 2004
Another Look at Relevancy
Jamie Bennett takes another look at the "problem" of relevancy over at Razormouth.com. He attempts to find a middle way between the relevancy crowd (kewl!) and the irrelevancy crowd (the new gnostics). But I think he pretty much sides with the former position in the end. (At least he is less hard on the relevancy crowd than on the nerds for Christ.)

What seems to fuel Jamie's critique is the necessity for us to get out there and meet with "publicans, prostitutes and sinners" of our day. To this I say a hearty, Amen! But do we really need to watch all the latest movies and tv shows, wear nose rings and tatoos, etc. to really communicate with these people? I don't think so.

Lets put it this way: who has less in common: the most "irrevant" gnostic 21st century Reformed nerd and average non-Crhstian gen X kid down the block, or, the utterly sinless Christ and tax collectors and prostitutes he ministered to? Culturally speaking, Christ and all unregenerrate people are light-years apart. Yet Jesus was totally relevant because he was King and Creator. And it takes a powerful miracle of grace to allow any fallen person the ability to see that He is the Relevant One.

The real danger of relevancy is the possibility of loosing our distinctiveness. John Stott points out that the only way salt looses its saltyness is if it is diluted - if impurities are added. I fear that many in the relevancy crowd not only look and dress the same, and have the same cultural interests, but they also end up thinking the same (Rom. 12:1-2?). When this happens, what do they really have to offer to a sick and dying world?