The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Clowney's Cultural Legacy
As most of you already know, Edmund Clowney died last week. Not only was he a champion of Reformed theology, but he was a champion of Christian culture as well. This is reflected in Clowney's sons.

My wife Marjorie lived with Clowney's son Paul -- a successful graphic designer -- in London in late 70's. I had the pleasure on interviewing Paul for my article on Hans Rookmaaker. Paul also wrote (with his wife) a terrific book of Church architecture that is now out of print.

Edmund's oldest son David authored a terrific hymn which is in the Trinity Hymnal which a wonderful ode to creation and culture:

God, All Nature Sings Thy Glory
David Clowney (age 16)
(To the tune Ode for Joy, L. Beethoven)

God, all nature sings Thy glory,
and Thy works proclaim Thy might;
Ordered vastness in the heavens,
ordered course of day and night;
Beauty in the changing seasons,
beauty in the storming sea;
All the changing moods of nature
praise the changeless Trinity.

Clearer still we see Thy hand
in man whom Thou hast made for Thee;
Ruler of creation’s glory, image of Thy Trinity.
Music, art, the fruitful garden,
all the labor of his days;
Are the calling of His Maker,
to the harvest feast of praise.

But our sins have spoiled Thine image;
nature, conscience only serve,
As unceasing, grim reminders
of the wrath which we deserve.
Yet Thy grace and saving mercy
in Thy Word of truth revealed.
Claim the praise of all who know Thee,
in the blood of Jesus sealed.

God of glory, power, and mercy,
all creation praises Thee;
We, Thy creatures, would adore Thee,
now and through eternity.
Saved to magnify Thy goodness,
grant us strength to do Thy will;
With our acts as with our voices
Thy commandments to fulfill. Amen.

Monday, March 28, 2005
Heeeee's Back
in one piece from my cross country jaunt. Comments, observations, etc. to follow...

Thursday, March 17, 2005
Off on my cross-country trip for the next week and a half. Maybe I'll post if I have time and internet access.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005
"Calvinist Manifesto"
is the title of this essay by Francis Fukuyama that recently appeared in the New York Times Book Review, celebrating the 100th anniversary of Max Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. (Came across this via Greg Baus, who rightly criticizes Fukuyama's apparently truncated understanding of culture.) Man, I have to read Weber. Pretty important stuff.

Laid to Rest
Yesterday I signed the papers to have my old red 1990 Dodge Colt Hatchback committed to a wrecking yard. Fourteen plus years and 220K miles of faithful service with only one really major repair ($500 for a new computer). Lately a bunch of problems started cropping up including the transmission. Lat week she finally blew an oil gasket. At this stage it not worth putting the money into it.

An excellent, dependable car.

She will be missed.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Christian Culture - The Morally Beautiful Community
From a post at the Dialogical Coffee House - This is a great vision!

This term Morally Beautiful Community came to me while reading Edwards' "On Religious Affections" many years ago. Edwards speaks of the Spirit, through the Gospel, revealing to the heart the Moral Excellencies of Christ. To Edwards, the work of Grace produces in the heart of the believer affections for these moral excellencies. Therefore, our chief end in life is to display these moral attributes of God in our life through grace. Edwards represents the height of the pietist and revivalist history in the Reformed tradition. I see the chief end of man not to so much to display the excellencies of God in the world as individuals but as a body. We as people, by the way we LIVE TOGETHER are to be this "city on a hill" that displays His manifold beauty. We are to become the Morally Beautiful Community.

Edwards in his life and the life of his congregation experienced seasons of Grace that transformed the community around them. The fruit of the people, the winsomeness of their worship, and their artistic expressions all came forth from the community and led to great cultural renewal. Such a view of the role of the church and the potential for the church, I believe, constitutes a distinct worldview. The question is why do some Christians have a worldview which maintains this high and prophetic view of the church while others do not. I for one cannot read the bible without seeing the call to become this radically distinct and morally beautiful people. I believe that this is the Hebrew worldview and Greek dualism and Western individualism has undermined this core aspect of the biblical worldview.

The church is the bride of Christ. Our Covenant Lord is making us glorious and empowering us to make glorious things...

Tuesday, March 08, 2005
Road Trip
In a couple of weeks (DV) I will be driving across the country with a new (for me) car that my Dad has kindly given us. We start on Long Island. My oldest daughter and I will make our way down to Covenant College to check it out. Then after putting her on a plane in Nashville, I will drive the rest of the way across our great land.

If all works well, I hope to visit a few art museums along the way including the Brooks Art Museum in Memphis, the St Louis Art Museum, the Nelson Atkins in Kansas City and the Joslyn in Omaha. (I.m mostly stopping at collections that have Dutch art in their collections.)

Along the way I hope to see some old friends too.

Friday, March 04, 2005
Doctrine Has Consequences
Andrew Sandlin exposes the folly of dispensational thinking on cultural activity in this response to something Bill Moyers said. (Its titled "The Apocalyptic Assault on Christian Culture".)

A sound Christian alternative to pop dispensationalism is historic Christendom, which recognizes continuity in history and understands that history ends only at Jesus’ Second Advent (1 Cor. 15:20-28). If a massive discontinuity will occur only at history’s end, Christians are encouraged to work to evangelize and disciple the nations with the confidence that the Lord accompanies them in their task, even to the end of the age (Mt. 28:18-20). They care for the environment as faithful stewards of God’s creation (Gen. 1:28). They press the claims of Jesus’ Lordship in all areas of life and thought (Ac. 2:29-36). They know that the meek will inherit the earth (Mt. 5:5).

Anybody remember James Watt and his crazy theology viz. the environment?

Thursday, March 03, 2005
City as Culture and Goal of Gospel
I came across another promising book reviewd in the most recent issue of the OPC rag New Horizons: Lester DeKoster's Light for the City: Calvin's Preaching, Source of Life and Liberty.

According to Lester De Koster, the doctrine of predestination as taught by Calvin makes building the kingdom of God, rather than evangelism, the sole and highest calling of Christians. Calvin's preaching, his Institutes of the Christian Religion, and his leadership of the church and government in Geneva were each directed toward establishing God's kingdom on earth. De Koster cogently argues this provocative case in the hope that, by properly understanding Scripture as a "dynamic creative Agent of the City," faithful preaching today, just as in Calvin's day, will strive to evoke the City of God on earth.

The reviewer - a gnostic amillenialist - dissed the book for being to concrete (the kingdom of God is spiritual after all).

I really like his thesis. Lines up with a lot of what I say in Plowing. Similar to Leithart's ideas as well...

Tuesday, March 01, 2005
The King Has Spoken

There is a tale, possibly apocryphal, of a bemused Elvis Presley sitting in front of his televisions reading the Bible. On completing 1 Corinthians 13, it is reported that Elvis had a moment of clarity, reached for a gun and began shooting the bright, electrical images making their way into his home. There's something very compelling about this scene. It's as if the man whom many would call King stepped past all that had been and would be made of his personality and all the dark stratagems of Colonel Tom Parker to render a decision. Though it has a sadness and frailty to it, the seemingly powerless gesture nevertheless delivers a bold, authoritative judgement, not without a certain dignity. With Bible in hand, Elvis compares the love that has overcome death to the brain ray that is television and all the mass hypnosis of the entertainment industry it represents (inseparable as it is from the phenomenon called Elvis) and finds it wanting, deserving of, in fact, immediate execution. The King has spoken.

--from an article by David Dark on Booksandculture.com