The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Friday, May 28, 2004
"a design that Darth Vader would approve of"

The new Central Library in Seattle. Quote comes from a guest review at City Comforts blog.

I will suspend judgement until I visit it. One thing that is cool (from my perspective as a librarian) is that it has an automated conveyor system which deposits returned books to appropriate range in the stacks.

Maybe I will see when we hopefully visit Seattle Art Museum for the "Van Gogh to Mondrian: Modern Art from the Kröller-Müller Museum" show.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004
Just Say No
The new PCA online rag has an article on reality tv. It ultimately pans it. But did it really take that much text to arrive at this conclusion?

The attitude of this article is symptomatic of what I see in many corners of the evangelical (and reformed) church. Far too often we are like a moth circling round and round a candle, seemingly obsessed with it. From time to time we get too close and we get our wings singed -- or worse.

Or as another commentator put it, we are willing to swim to the bottom of a cesspool to get at the silver dollar at the bottom.

It isn't worth it.

Lets use our time for better pursuits.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004
I was at the Coffee Cottage the other night listening to Newberg's own Celtic band Roughly Hewn. And had the following epiphany:

Blacks have the Blues


The Irish have ballads

Friday, May 21, 2004
Old Best Dreams

"In the late spring of 1927, something bright and alien flashed across the sky. A young Minnesotan who seemed to have nothing to do with his generation did a heroic thing, and for a moment people set down their glasses in country clubs and speakeasies and thought of their old best dreams."

--F. Scott Fitzgerald on Charles Lindberg's solo-crossing which happened on this day

Thursday, May 20, 2004
Amillenial Dispensationalism
Mark Horne recently posted a portion of an article by Michael Horton which included this juicy tidbit:

"The Old Covenant contains both the covenant of works (the typological land with its conditional promises) and the covenant of grace (heavenly land with its unconditional foundation in Jesus Christ who has fulfilled the covenant of works)."

This dualism focused on the land ("typological land" vs. "heavenly land") is remarkably similar to the dualism between Israel and the Church that one finds in classic dispensationalism.

Just as there is a radical continuity between the Abrahamic, Mosaic, and "New" covenants (and this is surely the heart of covenant theology - the bedrock of the Reformed faith!), so we must recognize that there is a radical continuity between this present earth and the New Earth to come. But we must not stop here. There is also a radical continuity between Christian culture today and culture we will enjoy on the New Earth.

Fail to see the cultural continuity and culture necessarily suffers. Fail to see the radical continuity of the present/New earth, and all we're left with is a gnostic ghost of a faith. Horton may talk all he want about a wholistic Christianity, and complain about how cultrally irrelavent or uninformed Reformed believers are, but his theological system at this point is part of the problem.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004
Madeleine L'Engle's Wrinkle in Time was rejected by twenty-six publishers.

Monday, May 17, 2004
Wanted: Prayer Warriors

"In order to really pray "thy kingdom come," we need to expand the definition of "kingdom" with the concept of "culture." Then we begin to see that Jesus is not a representative of a quaint forgotten kingdom, nor a fairy tale figure, nor a dress-up character wandering the world like Mickey; he is the King of the universe who has established a contra-culture that is growing to overthrow the dominion/culture of sin and death. The Sermon on the Mount is the primary text for us to understand the "culture" Jesus is establishing and the Lord's Prayer is the distilled essence of this Christian Magna Charta."

-- from article by Sam Wheatley the ByFaith online PCA mag.

Friday, May 14, 2004
Design as Religion Externalized

"In most people’s vocabularies, design means veneer. It’s interior decorating. It's the fabric of the curtains of the sofa. But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a human-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service."

--Steve Jobs (for more quotes on design see this page)

The Difference Between Urban and Suburban
illustrated here.

(From the City Comforts Blog.)

Thursday, May 13, 2004
Some Thoughts on Culture-Making and Stewardship
I am inspired to write this entry by the article "For the beauty of the earth" by Sarah Walsh Landini that appeared on Catapult magazine. She argues in part that,

"there are many who mistakenly believe that the world was created for us and belongs to us. For that reason, we read Colossians 1:16: “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.” It is also helpful to look at passages where God’s ownership of the earth is duly noted, such as Psalm 24:1: “The earth is the LORD’S and everything in it.”"

I guess I am one of those who is "mistaken". The earth was clearly made "for" our transformation and development. God's original good creation was fundamentally incomplete since "there was no man to work the ground" (Gen 2:5). All the potentialities hidden within the earth (for instance the gold and gems described in Gen 2:11-12) were put there by our Creator for us to discover and employ toward gradually and carefully turning the Eden into a glorious garden-city (Rev. 21-22).

Moreover, under God (as Sarah points out) we are placed on the earth as rulers. Psalm 8 even says that God has put everything "under our feet" -- pretty strong sounding language. Rule implies ownership -- or at least the right to lovingly control and wisely determine the shape of that over which we were placed to rule (take dominion over).

Creation is very much like a tube of paint or a stretched canvas is for an artist. Paint and canvas make no sense by themselves. No one grinds pigments for the mere thrill of it. Paint is made to be used skillfully to make an object of beauty. In the same way God made creation as the blank "canvas" for the human race to turn into a glorious "secondary environment" of beauty and fruitfulness.

As I say in Plowing, Adam was not called to be a museum curator. He was not called to "keep" things they way they originally were. As all good stewards, he was called both to maintain and improve his master's property (Matt 25:14-30). We are never warranted to overdevelop the earth in ways where its fruitfulness is deminished (this is our calling to "keep" the garden). But to not take dominion over the earth through real transformative development is a sin. It is burying talents in the sand.

I like the balance I find in Sherri B. Lantinga's article in the same issue. We have tried to instill the same ethical value in our own maturing culture-makers:

"What I hope to instill in my kids is a respect for the world around us, a sense that the good life is about being part of this larger world instead of just using it as we please. I don’t want my kids to reflexively stomp on crickets, throw rocks at squirrels, or toss out unbroken toys they didn’t need in the first place; these are God’s things to care for, and ignorance and thoughtless hostility have no place in care. On the other hand, I don’t want them to develop a sappy, romantic attitude either--there is a proper place for hunting, bug-smashing, or tree-cutting. I know that I, like my Dad, don’t care for creation as well as I could. We grow and can or freeze some of our food, but certainly not everything, and when homemade bug remedies don’t work we’re willing to use chemicals on our veggies; we walk and bike lots of places, but we use the car a good deal, too. I hope that my kids will learn the more fundamental attitude of care, the proper orientation of their hearts, and will discover many ways to carry out this attitude even if their choices are not always exactly my own."

Wednesday, May 12, 2004
Comments on Comment Article?

See Gideon Strauss' blog for details. Original article with the quote here.

Monday, May 10, 2004
And You Thought it Was the Chocolate

"Switzerland, broadly speaking, is the best place in the world to drop dead by a very long distance," says Mr Barker. And for the eagle-eyed seeking old masters, the bank vaults in that country's Zug region, where inheritance tax is zero, would be a very good place to start looking.

-- from an article on the likely destination of the $100m Picasso sold last week

Friday, May 07, 2004
Nilla Wafers
Here is an intreguing book title: John Drane's The McDonaldization of the Church: Consumer Culture and the Church's Future. Applies the thesis of a sociological classic, George Ritner's McDonaldization of Society to the church.

According to the book's description, Drane calls the church to let go of its cookie cutter uniformity in order to become more "relevant" to the culture at large. What do we end up with? The "emergent" form of church. Missional. Postmodern. Powerpoint. Multisensory. Urban. Hip.

Visit the supermarket lately?

There are an awful lot of different cookies there. Some brands newer than others.

Thursday, May 06, 2004
A Missing Ingredient

Here is an thorough article in New Pantegruel on the Christian research university they are trying to get build at Baylor. (Here is another article from Christianity Today).

Christendom is badly in need of a biblical, esp. Reformed graduate institution that really gives out degrees in the humanities. (It looks as though Baylor will end up being too broadly Christian to be really distinctive in its offerings.) The sciences would be nice too, but this is really expensive. Toronto's Institute of Christian Studies threatened to become such a graduate school, but it never really branched out beyond being a department of applied philosophy. One can also cobble together something resembling a masters degree in the humanities from Regent College.

What other possibilities are out there? Where can one go to get a masters in art history or a PhD in English literature or American history that is distinctly Christian?

Wednesday, May 05, 2004
Tuesday, May 04, 2004
Quotes from Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life on the Importance of Culture-Making: