The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Friday, February 25, 2005
Some Thoughts on the Antithesis
If the Christian community is ever to about making Christian culture, it has to take the antithesis seriously. Distinction is necessary. Unwary cultural engagement is foolish at best and disastrous at worst.

Even though Paul says in 1 Tim 4:3-5:

3They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

we need to balance this with

33Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits."

(note that in this we are prone to being deceived!). Then there is this interesting passage in Haggai:

. . . 11 "This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Ask the priests what the law says: 12 If a person carries consecrated meat in the fold of his garment, and that fold touches some bread or stew, some wine, oil or other food, does it become consecrated?' "

The priests answered, "No."

13 Then Haggai said, "If a person defiled by contact with a dead body touches one of these things, does it become defiled?"

"Yes," the priests replied, "it becomes defiled."

14 Then Haggai said, " 'So it is with this people and this nation in my sight,' declares the LORD . 'Whatever they do and whatever they offer there is defiled.

It would seem that the idea of church funtioning as a "preservative" to culture (i.e. "salt") may not work in principle. Influence is not a two-way street: holy things cannot make unholy things holy by mere proximity. But unholy things can corrupt holy things.

Still thinking this through.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005
Why Do People Flock to Kinkade?
Never underestimate the capacity for people to love insipid art.

Case in point? Whoever paid $590,000 for this puppy:

(related article)

Friday, February 18, 2005
More on Christo
I bloged in the Christo "Gates" project a couple of days ago (a sly metaphor on the ubiquity of Microsoft?).

Here's a cool review of the project by Canadian architect and author Witold Rybczynski (who is one of favorite authors) on Slate.

Also see the Slate article,

"McMansion meets Soho" - a utopian nightmare?

Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Slam Dunk
Another golden nugget from Doug Wilson, responding to post-mo afficianado Brian McLaren's New Kind of Christian:

Here is the problem. Facile identification of whatever it is we are doing with the growth of the kingdom of God is a perennial temptation, right, left and center. The principle stands -- we are engaged in building the kingdom. But if we try to do it by catching at each passing fad, we are going to look as ridiculous as a pair of seventies bell-bottoms, and we will look this silly (in a very short time) because we cared so much about contemporary "relevance." McLaren thinks we are on the cusp of a postmodern revolution, and we just have to adapt. But maybe we are on the cusp of a red state Republican ascendancy, a century or more of American empire. Why don't we "just have to adapt" to that? The answer is that the Christian faith once delivered to the saints is neither medieval, modern or postmodern. To apply C.S. Lewis at this crucial point, whatever is not eternal is eternally out of date.

New Mag?
I just discovered (via Touchstone.com blog) Crux Magazine which looks like it has a some potential. Its still in the planning stages. But the essay featured praising the benefits of Burning Man has me a bit puzzled.

(Not to be confused with Crux published by Regent College in Vancouver, BC which has been one of my favorites for some time.)

Tuesday, February 15, 2005
The Good News and Bad News about Libraries
Someone once said a college is group of buildings surrounding a library. Libraries are cool. They were once rare - the domain of monesteries, universities and the super-rich. Now they exist seemingling in every town (at least in the US). Not to mention our often extensive personal libraries!

Nathan Bierma ruminates on the existence and continuance of libraries in Books & Culture. He observes that:

And despite the dominance of diet fads and other fatuities on the bestseller lists—and despite a much-ballyhooed National Endowment for the Arts study this summer called "Reading At Risk," which found that Americans are reading less fiction than they were 20 years ago—the fact remains: we are a culture that still loves our books.


The Wheaton Public Library expanded its book holdings from 40,000 to 55,000 books from 1978 to 2002; during the same period, it increased its audio-visual holdings from 5,000 to 45,000.

Once the place of intellectual growth, libraries are quickly becoming entertainment centers, cowtowing to the shallow whims of our narcotized society.

Monday, February 14, 2005
Friday, February 11, 2005
The Big Picture
R.C. Sproul Jr. has it exactly right when he says:

Can’t we believe enough in the sovereignty of God to stop seeing face time on TV as the measure of how we are doing? The Kingdom of God has survived Billy Sunday, Billy Graham, Billy Carter, Billy Hybels and Billy Clinton. It has survived Promise Keepers, WWJD, Jabez’ prayer and every other Big Idea to come down the pike. It will do more than survive this latest drivel.

The latest silliness is but mere chaff in the wind. The substantial stuff will - by God's providence - be with us always!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005
Mark Horne has an excellent point when he says, following the lead of NT Wright, that Christianity is about liberation:

My advice is to never say "saved" or "salvation" if you can help it. Say "rescued" or "delivered." "Redemption" should be "liberation." The Gospel came into a world of many gods and many lords and proclaimed an overlord and a god of gods. Kurios, Xristos, and even soter were entrenched in the geo-political language of both paganism and Judaism (in the case of Xristos). This was the languages of the powers, powers which Paul assures us that Jesus defeated and the Gospel challenges.

Our "Liberation" is our Exodus. Why are we made free? This follows the OT schema: Israel's exodus was so that they could return to the promised land where they would no longer be fettered by slavery to the tyranny of Pharaoh. Israel was at last free to serve the LORD in its culture and worship.

We too are freed from our sin and the tyranny of Satan (as were our OT brethren), so that we may serve our new Master/King by building a biblical culture and returning to true worship in spirit and truth.

We are saved unto culture-making.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005
Holy Roller

I'm not really sure what this little truck is for. Found it at an Orthodox Mission in Portland site (via Google map search on bookstores!). I guess Baptists use buses to bring people to church, whereas the Orthodox bring church to the people...

Friday, February 04, 2005

What movie is being described in this quote:

“ . . . a stunning allegory of moral, intellectual, and even religious excellence in the face of postmodern decay, a sort of Christian-Aristotelian Pilgrim’s Progress for those lost in the contemporary cosmos.”


Thursday, February 03, 2005
Bring Me that Old Time Religion
(excerpt from "A Growing Hunger for Honesty and Authenticity" at the ByFaith.com site)"

Your PCA born-and-bred son has gone away to the "big university." Will it be a negative influence? Will he reject his covenant heritage? He returns home for his first break, and you begin to notice some strange and disturbing patterns. As you ask him about his faith, he's elusive. At church on Sunday he seems uncomfortable and irritable. You begin wondering if this is it— the moment every Christian parent dreads. Has your son abandoned the faith? At Sunday dinner, you muster the courage to ask. And his response floors you. "Dad and Mom, I've got something to share with you. I'm frustrated with church. It doesn't tackle the deep issues I wrestle with."

Here it comes. This is it. You grab each other's hand. And then he says it.

Dad and Mom, what ever happened to the old hymns? My campus director plays guitar, and he's got all these old hymns that I never hear in church anymore, and they are so relevant to my struggles. And what ever happened to the Lord's Supper? Man, that's the good stuff…that's where I can lay it on the line with Jesus and bring Him my fears and dreams. And what ever happened to the Bible? When I was young, I loved hearing the stories and struggles of faith. They reached me. I wish our pastor told fewer jokes and focused on some of the real-life stories in the Bible and the church.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005
More on the Rembrandt Show now at the National Gallery
(soon to come to the Getty Museum). From the Washington Post:

Just when other successful artists had abandoned brushy, expressive painting in favor of a slick high realism, Rembrandt insisted more than ever on his status as a virtuoso paint slinger. He already throws some moments of aggressive brushiness into his self-portrait as Saint Paul. But a picture such as that Epinal "Virgin of Sorrows" is almost entirely frantic brushwork, nearly at the expense of legibility. It is Rembrandtism taken almost to the point of parody -- a Hummer's deluxe branding used for an absurd stretch limo.

This article has a nice "slide show" as well.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005
California Dreaming
Looking at possibilities for a family trip to LA area in early July. We have many relatives to visit (mostly on my wife's side), Disneyland, etc.

And I hope to do some Museum hopping. The Getty, LA County Museum of Art and the Norton Simon all have solid Dutch collections. And there will be special exhibitions on Rembrandt (at the Getty) and Ruisdael (LACMA) to check out as well.