The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Thursday, June 30, 2005
The Heart of Christian Culture - The Next Generation
Some sobering thoughts from R.C. Sproul, Jr. on reaching the hearts of our kids. More reason to call out to God for his grace...

There is danger on both sides. A pathological fear that if you send your child to get a pop out of the machine in the lobby, that such might mean they might ride an elevator with a peer is just a little over the top. On the other hand, the notion that everything is just ducky because our teens are hanging out with teens of parents just like us is just a little head-in-the-sand. A seething child that is always at your side has already left you. And a child that cheerfully tips his or her hat at your values on the way out the door has already left you, even if they have a nice, respectable haircut.

What you want is both proximity without apron strings, and a loyalty that runs through you to the King. This is how you grow men and women who will become brothers in arms. Otherwise you’re just whistling in the dark.

Monday, June 27, 2005
New Urbanism in LA
A conference on new urbanism that is - from a Christian perspective. As reported in the LA Times:

Jacobsen recently left a pastorate in Missoula, Mont., to complete his doctorate in theology and built environment at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena. He says churches have contributed to the deterioration of cities by building warehouse-like edifices in the suburbs with huge parking lots. Those mega-churches are too isolated to connect with people's "ordinary lives," he said.

"I'll be the first to admit that Christians in this country have failed to live up to the standard set by their own Scriptures," said Jacobsen, an adjunct professor of theology and culture at Fuller. "Rather than taking the Bible seriously, we have allowed the American idols of individualism, conspicuous consumption and privatism to influence our approach to church building as well as our impulses toward the urban landscape."

In contrast, a church that is "embedded in the neighborhood with doors that come right up to the sidewalk" reflects Christ's approach to ministry. He cited All Saints Episcopal Church and Pasadena Presbyterian Church in downtown Pasadena and Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles as positive examples.

Eric Jacobsen is the author of Sidewalks in the Kingdom , which I have commented on numberous times in this blog.

Thursday, June 23, 2005
Artistic Monkey Business

Chimp art sells for more than $25k. Story.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Maybe this Is why I Enjoy Golf so Much

You hit a near-perfect iron to the green, so accurate it strikes the flag stick—and then ricochets off and ends up in a sand trap. So much for your perfect iron. On the next hole, you wickedly slice a drive into a thick cluster of trees, hear a frightening thud—and see your ball magically bounce out into the middle of the fairway. This sort of thing happens in every round. There is no sense shaking one's fist heavenward or cursing the ways of this inscrutable god. If one wants to get on in the life of golf, the best posture is to humbly accept this god's complete sovereignty and prepare for the next shot.

In this regard, golf is Protestantism on steroids. It is a purely individual sport. In team sports, the weight of salvation is shifted constantly, from pitcher to shortstop to batter, or from quarterback to lineman to linebacker. No one player has the burden for more than part of the game, and every teammate is there to bring encouragement one to another. In golf, the burden rests squarely on the shoulders of the golfer for every shot, from start to finish.

(quote form Books & Culture )

Reformed Churches in My Neck of the Woods
via MSN Search

Monday, June 20, 2005
Resolution Follow-Up
Some friends asked about the actual wording of the resolution (not an overture) voted down by the PCA on educaction. Here is the conclusion.

Therefore, be it resolved that the 33rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America encourages all her officers and members to remove their children from the public schools and see to it that they receive a thoroughly Christian education, for the glory of God and the good of Christ's church.

You can read the entire resolution here.

"Encourage" seems pretty weak to me. Why couldn't the PCA muster a fifty percent majority to pass this?

Friday, June 17, 2005
The sound of the Overture to the PCA GA encouraging parents to educate their children in a Christian manner crashing and burning on the assembly floor.

So much for a distinctive Christian culture.

But that wouldn't be relevant...

Gnostic Shortcomings
as illustrated by the Star Wars Epic.

Or, the problem with disengagement...

Monday, June 13, 2005
A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words
especially in the case of the "cartoon" version of The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich Heyak.

What it even more amazing is that this appeared in Look magazine. Radical libertarianism in a mainstream magazine? Wow.

Friday, June 10, 2005
Sounds Like a Hoot

A nice companion to Nathan Wilson's Right Behind series!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Who Said:

Faith becoming music is part of the process of the word becoming flesh …When the word becomes music, there is involved on the one hand perceptible illustration, incarnation or taking on flesh, attraction of pre-rational powers, a drawing upon the hidden resonance of creation, a discovery of the song which lies at the basis of all things. And so this becoming music is itself the very turning point in the movement: it involves not only the word becoming flesh, but simultaneously the flesh becoming spirit.

Clue: He also said:

... Rock music seeks release through liberation from the personality and its responsibility ... [it is] among the anarchic ideas of freedom which today [1985] predominate more openly in the West than in the East. But that is precisely why rock music is so completely antithetical to the Christian concept of redemption and freedom, indeed its exact opposite. Hence music of this type must be excluded from the Church on principle, and not merely for aesthetic reasons, or because of restorative crankiness or historical inflexibility.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Monday, June 06, 2005
The Next Generation
One of the key ways that the contemporary Christian church is resisting the cultural status quo is through the education of their covenant children. Deliberately eschewing the government schools for private or home schooling were true education can take place founded and permeated by biblical truths, a new generation is being raised up who have been trained to think like Christians - not like prevailing unbelief we see propagated all around us (sadly, even among far too many Christians).

Two weeks ago we attended the graduation at Veritas School where our oldest daugher is due to graduate next year. I was especially taken by the following speech by Nolan Lynch, one of three graduates who spoke eloquently at the ceremony. It is a remarkable piece of literature, indicating what the "lost tools of learning" can produce at a relatively early age:

The phrase “classical education” calls up an image of a dark, crusty-manuscript-and-cobwebby-halberd-bearing-suit-of-armor-filled stone chamber. Its sole inhabitant is a lonely pupil who reads by candlelight, under the watchful, commanding eye of a bust of Caesar. In short, classical education is usually thought of as dark, dusty and dead. The student thinks he has been locked in by his gray-bearded tutor, who carries a large bundle of keys and, in all likeliness, wears a tie. That student’s mistake, however, was that he refused to light more than the necessary single candle. Lighting the numerous wall-torches would reveal that the room is much bigger than it first appears. The cobwebs do not seem so plentiful. The chamber is actually a great hall, ancient and beautiful, built ages ago by men who are far older and wiser than we will ever be. Along the walls are strong, intricately carved, oak doors. Behind those doors lie greater halls, some containing magnificent feasts, others hiding vast treasures guarded by goblins and giant spiders (dragons being remarkably rare in our sheltered society). A few of the highest chambers hold captive damsels in distress, which are, sadly, even rarer than dragons. A grand adventure, full of learning, songs, and peril, lies behind any of the doors, which, by the foolish student’s own wish are obscured in darkness. Besides the fact that he wants no part in any adventure that does not involve an electronic screen, he has also bought into the modern version of classical education, complete with a bust of a dead, white, upper-class, European male. The only thing making that pitiable student’s education dull is his own lack of imagination. Adventure and glory can be found in the most insignificant corners of the classroom for those willing to look about and put in some effort of his own. For those willing to step into an available suit of chain mail and set off to explore the remote regions of the tower, torch and sword in hand, there are thrilling and exciting deeds to be done. The students who look for excitement will find it.

Veritas is rather like the preliminary adventure in the long journey of life, where travelers learn to use their weapons and their wits. The skills learned in that first journey to the top of the tower will prove vital in the more dangerous, more exciting quest that begins with graduation. We have pushed open that last, particularly heavy trapdoor, while fighting off the various nasty goblins of laziness, stupidity, sickness, and anxiety. It is difficult, but exhilarating. We have all seven of us come out on the topmost course of the great tower victorious, and the stronger for the battle. Before us lies great fields, mountains, forests, and rivers waiting to be explored and conquered as well. The time has come for us to continue on our journey. My classmates and I have reached that highest level of the tower, and as we have no higher to go, it is only natural that we would move on to bigger and better things. However, I will not say do not weep, for not all tears are an evil. But remember that we cannot stay; it is our quest to go out and wage war on the world. This is what we have been trained to do. The training is done; the real adventure begins now. In the words of J. R. R. Tolkien:

The road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began
Now far ahead the road has gone
And I must follow if I can

Pursuing it with weary feet
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet
And whither then I cannot say

(copywrite Nolan Lynch, 2005)

Friday, June 03, 2005
Say Chezz
Lookin' forward to hearing blues historian and musician Steve Cheseboorough at the Coffee Cottage tonight. Caught some of him last month and he was amazing. Finger style and bare bones. He just moved up to Portland from Mississippi a couple of month ago.

Thursday, June 02, 2005
Outside Looking In
John Stackhouse reviews The Church on the World's Turf: An Evangelical Christian Group at a Secular University by Paul A. Bradmadat. Bradmadat is a Unitarian who observed an IVCF group for a year at McMaster University. Sounds a lot like my IV experiences 25 years ago:

At least one more thing keeps Bramadat from embracing this group's religion: its lack of serious intellectual interest and ability. Here, at one of Canada's most selective and productive research universities, the students at IVCF seem much more interested in the affective, relational, and moral dimensions of their faith than the intellectual. That perhaps is not entirely surprising. But when the intellectual aspect of Christianity is directly on trial, it is disappointing to find that representatives of the group fail badly to meet the challenge.

Stackhouse also observes:
. . . In what might count as the most surprising chapter in the book, he discusses "The Role of Women" who make up the majority of the membership. He concludes that IVCF provides several crucial services to evangelical women: it offers them positions of leadership in a subculture that still generally does not; it gives them a safe place to negotiate the competing truth claims offered in the secular university; and it worships God in a style of piety that is suited especially to single women, with quasi-erotic and feminine imagery in prayers and especially in songs.

This last point might discomfit some readers, but Bramadat details his findings, citing lyrics from what he calls "repetitive, yearning songs" sung at IVCF events. He also notes that IVCF men refer to Jesus in typical masculine roles as "judge, father, teacher, mentor, and, least frequently, friend," while the women envision Jesus as "the kind, sensitive recipient and unconditional requiter of love." What Bramadat sees here in microcosm, of course, other observers have noted throughout contemporary evangelical piety.

(found at the Common Ground blog)

Wednesday, June 01, 2005
after a short break over an extended Memorial Day weekend.

I am getting back into the rhythm of working on our house. The exterior little details are almost complete (including finishing paint). Then there is landscaping...