The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Friday, February 27, 2004
A Time to Weep

"I find it interesting (after it was pointed out to me) that there is NO ONE in the evangelical world raising the question of whether the making of this movie is a violation of the 2nd commandment. It seems that the overall Christian community is so overjoyed that Hollywood is producing something that is not the normal diet of smut that we immediately dismiss the question of whether this movie truly is glorifying to God. "

--quote taken from a discussion thread at the World Magazine site (here's another one)

My wife actually met Hans Rookmaaker before he died. She told me that one of his repeated remarks was that we should "weep". We look the foolishness of the culture at large as they create art works and music rife with ugliness and death, and rather than laugh or smirk, we should weep. We look at the shallowness of the church and look at the trinkets evangelicals buy in "bookstores", and we should weep.

I am personally grieved at how droves evangelicals are throwing themselves at The Passion movie. They are hungry for something aesthetically rich and wholesome and they dive into the first plate that comes along that might fill the bill. The evangelical church is driven by experience. The word is not enought. So a movie like The Passion of the Christ comes along and fills this desire. They are really no different from Medieval supersticious mystics in this regard. The Reformation marked the ascendancy of the word as a liberator from the endless longing for experience.

Evangelicals flocking to The Passion shouldn't be that surprising. These are, after all, the same people who bought millions of copies of Jabez and the Armageddon series, and who made Thomas Kinkade a multi-millionaire. Ignorance and foolishness reigns in the evangelical church today (the rest of the church (mainline) is even worse off). It is time to weep.

But it gets worse. It seems that many who call themselves reformed are also tearing loose from their confessional moorings and taking the plunge. We who in many respects led the way in encouraging the church to be cultural, have gone overboard and have (seemingly) forgotten that there are scriptural limits to cultural involvement. Being "involved" or "engaged" or "relevant" trumps all other factors. The end justifies the means. We are loosing our distinctiveness -- our biblical flavor. We will never create a Christian culture at this rate.

Read the threads on the World sites. The lines of "reasoning" and lack of biblical understanding are tragic.

And so I weep.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004
Getting the Big Picture
By now you probably know that the picture I posted on Monday is a detail from Vermeer's Milkmaid . The Rijksmuseum has an excellent writeup on it here (go the collections link, then select major exhibits, then artist). Click on the zoom button on the first page and check out how he painted the wall. It seems so simple, but large open areas like the background wall are the most challenging parts to paint. Yet in Vermeer's hands it is utterly convincing. Its really what makes the whole painting work, in my opinion. While you're at it, check out their exploration of De Hooch's Mother's Duty.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004
Bring on the Trinkets

"Outside the theater, movie-goers could buy memorabilia tied to the film at a table set up by Family Christian Stores. Items for sale included $10 T-shirts, $15 soundtrack CDs, and $10 solid pewter nails."

from the Deleware News-Journal.

Monday, February 23, 2004
Wednesday, February 18, 2004
Seeing Transformation
Culture is the gradual transformation of the original garden (now in many cases a wasteland because of sin) into a garden city. Here is an amazing site which allows you to see the transformation of Vancouver, BC, which has grown by leaps and bounds in the last 25 years. Watch a series of panoramic photos change before your very eyes!

Tuesday, February 17, 2004
Cool Icon in Cool Book
Gideon's recent entry on Tufte's website brought me to this page from his classic book The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, which features the famous Big Duck (which is nearby where my Dad lives on eastern LI)!

Friday, February 13, 2004
Good Advice for Christian Cultural Activists
Twenty Commandments for Culture-Changers by Andrew Sandlin flat out nails it.

More on The Passion
Now D. James Kennedy is promoting the film as an evangelism tool.

Isn't ironic that Dr. Kennedy has been one of the loudest critics of the removal of the Ten Commandmants from the Alabama Courthouse?

"Do you know anyone who worships idols? What about you, do you worship idols? In today's broadcast, Dr. D. James Kennedy looks at the Bible's prohibition on worshipping graven images and applies it to modern life. Find out how just about anything can become an idol -- listen in. "

[By the way, I was sick the past two days with a cold, but I am back...]

Tuesday, February 10, 2004
The Exception That Prooves the Rule?
I can remember a number of years ago walking with a friend in Manhattan. He said something, which at the time, seemed to be a reasonable truism:

"You know, Dave, you can't be a abstract expressionist one minute, and a photo-realist the next."

Then along came Gerhard Richter. Go figure.

Monday, February 09, 2004
Good Vibrations
Our whole family enjoyed listening to singer-songwriter Robert Rife play at the Coffee Cottage Saturday night. He calls his stuff "Celtic-Christian". Besides beautiful folk songs, he plays the shuddle pipes and penny whistle. Plus, he can positively rip on Bruce Cockburn songs.

Later on this month, we'll be treated to more Celtic delights when Roughly Hewn comes to the Cottage.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004
Now Isn't That Spatial

Yet another intreguing book offered by Brazos Press.

A Cool Cat Named Morris
An article I wrote on William Morris recently appeared over the Comment magazine site (edited by Gideon Strauss). Morris interfaces with the philosophy of craft, which is a major interest of mine right now. More articles on the topic (DV) to follow...

Monday, February 02, 2004
A Quiet Life
We spent part of our Sabbath afternoon yesterday with some Christian friends. Our host read a challenging article from the most recent issue Banner of Truth by Walter Chantry on the idea of leading a quiet life (1 Thess 4:11 ; 1 Tim 2:2 -- not online yet).

Chantry pointed out the irony of how many Christians will move out into the country for the "quiet", only to end up busying themselves with the extra 20-30 minutes it takes to drive into town every time they need to run an errand, visit a fellow church member, etc.; not to mention the hours of extra yard maintenance, chores, etc. Reminds me again of that wonderful article in Wired on the Amish. We need to stop and look and listen -- figure out what this crazy culture is doing to us.

And RESIST it where it takes us away from communion with God.

I started my resistance in a small way by turning off the radio on my way to work.