The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The old saying that we should “not be so heavenly-minded that we are of no earthly good” is true, as far as it goes. But it seems that in the modern world our earthly good depends on our heavenly-mindedness. In our present cultural climate, it becomes necessary for the Church to remember the words of C.S. Lewis who maintained that Christians who “did the most for the present world were precisely those who thought the most of the next”.

--from an article by W. Tullian Tchividjian

Two More Things I Liked in Seattle
were the two gardens we visited - which incidentally were also Japanese. They were also free:

Kubota Garden


Waterfall Park

The latter park was a block away from David Ishii's bookstore. Being in this tiny park was like being transported to another place. The roar and visual spectacle of the waterfall was so soothing.

Monday, September 26, 2005
Its the Little Things
I was in Seattle saturday with my family visiting with my sister who had been out this way to go on a cruise. We spent some time wandering the Pioneer Square area near downtown - a very beautiful, old word feeling part of the city. One block I especially enjoyed on First Street which sported four used bookstores in close proximity!

One store - David Ishii Bookseller (video!) was especially noteworthy. My daughter found two books to her liking and at fair price. She payed for them in cash (cards not accepted) - and then, to our surprise, Mr. Ishii carefully wrapped her purchase in brown paper and tied the bundle with a ribbon with his name emblazoned on it. A neat package which only served to make the books all the more precious.

I couldn't help but think that this was an outgrowth of Mr. Ishii's Japanese heritage. Details and aesthetics matter so much in Japan. Or maybe its just an old fashioned bookseller practice - pre-paper/plastic bag.

At any rate, it made our day.

Friday, September 23, 2005
confession of faith. I wonder if John Robbins would approve.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005
More from Doug
Gnostics beware.

"The rich man’s wealth is his strong city: the destruction of the poor is their poverty . . . The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it" (Prov. 10:15, 22).

Everyone with eyes in his head can see that the wealthy are better off than those who are poor. The rich man has a strong city, and the poor get poorer. And of course, the normal route taken in both directions (toward wealth or poverty) is the route involving work (or lack of it), fraud (or lack of it), blessing (or lack of it), good service (or lack of it), or initiative (or lack of it).

Jesus pronounced a blessing on the poor, but it was a particular kind of poverty that He had in mind. Here Solomon pronounces a blessing on the rich, but it is a particular kind of wealth as well. One man has his business go extremely well, and God says to him, "You fool, tonight your life is required of you." And another man receives the blessing of the Lord, is made rich, and God adds no sorrow to it. This is an extraordinary (and rare) blessing.


Monday, September 19, 2005
Doug Wilson: Grime Doesn't Pay
Wilson once again nails it. Grime does NOT equal truth. Alleged "realism" does not make a work of art valid.

Some excerpts:

The issue is always nobility. Nobility is good and it is very real. Sweety-nice and sentimental cliches set themselves up as good, but they are not real. The difference between Sam Gamgree and Elsie Dinsmore is vast. To complicate the picture further, hypocrisy pays lip service to that which is good, but lives in such a way as to say that the good is unreal in the hypocrite's experience. Those who live with the hypocrite come to agree, and as I wrote earlier, they go off to find authenticity on the seedy side of town. But there is just as much hypocrisy there -- the difference is the world is engaged in a vast conspiracy on this subject, and has agreed to not notice it. Church-going hypcrisy gets pounded, and we should have no problem with that. Go for it. It deserves everything it gets, good and hard. But the hypocrites of lowlife authenticity are just as bad, just as inconsistent. They just never get called on it. Why? Because they are living authentic lives. Why do we say so? Well, the grease for starters.


Grimy characters can certainly be real, as they are in the book God is writing. As Chesterton once put it, a book without a wicked character is a wicked book. But such characters are not good because they are real, and they most certainly are not more real just because they are real. They do not have any advantage over the noble, cute, pretty, or clean in that great footrace for the blue ribbon prize that we call being "realistic." Pious four-year-old girls with big blue eyes are real. Crack cocaine addicts are real. Both of them can share basically the same quadrant in the space/time continuum, the same zip code, and even the same mother. Some of these people who privilege grime over the good need to work through some basic questions of ontology, or, to pinpoint the problem more accurately, ethics.

(Also check out Doug's earlier related post.)

Friday, September 16, 2005
An Artist in Residence
sponsored by a church communitity is an intreguing idea for me. Here is one church which has more or less done this. (From Catapult/CINO)

Maybe we can do this in Newberg some day...

Mother of Invention
Just came across an amazing photo essay of the vast variety of
"anti-sit" design additions to walls, fire hydrants, etc. Some are elegant, some medieval, and some decidely folk. (Found at behond mag blog)

I have notices similar design adjustments here in the northwest to deter skateboarders...

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Imagine then the power of the dirt in Eden . Then there was no curse. Its abundance makes the astounding productivity of our day appear positively miserly. That superabundance, however, is not only behind us; it is yet before us. For Jesus is redeeming all the earth. He is taking us back to the garden. He will birth a new heavens and a new earth, and there will be no more groaning. Our labors in the dirt are a part of that process. For God, again the great poet, beautifully calls the dirt to call the dirt to productivity, in reflection of His glory.

--R.C. Sproul, Jr. from Every Thought Captive

Tuesday, September 13, 2005
There have been a number of stimulating articles come out lately on Agrarianism and related concerns.

From WRF Comment:

The Cultural Mandate and the Spirit of Agrarianism

Life in a Machine: The Crisis of Modern Agriculture

These offer more or less opposing viewpoints on the issue. (See thorough discussion of this here.)

From New Pantegruel:



Both are excellent overviews of their respective topic.

Monday, September 12, 2005
Friday, September 09, 2005
Blinded by Sociology?
I have to admire Andrew Sandlin, even if I don't always agree with him. His latest post at Christianculture.com reports on James Davidson Hunter's lecture in Calgary, Alberta sponsored by the Work Research Foundation.

Hunter's lecture centered on the "Center" of culture and the vital importance (for him) of taking the center in order for Christian's to successfully change culture. Here is some of the summary excerpts cited by Sandlin:

- Culture has a rigid structure of centre and periphery, the centre with the highest prestige. In economics, quantity counts, but in culture, only quality or status. USA Today sells 10 times the copies, but the New York Times has 10 times the prestige.

- Cultures change from top down, not from bottom up — “the hardest thing for Christians to accept,” Hunter says. The root of every culture is a tiny network of intellectuals. In his Sociology of Philosophies, Randall Collins estimates that just 500 thinkers have been at the centre of 3,000 years of world civilization; and their total network comprised just 2,700 people, shaping the public vocabulary. Grass roots movements bring only temporary change, because they don’t build lasting networks, then institutions, to embody and preserve the culture.

What Hunter argues is largely true, but is not entirely true. Culture is changed from grass roots efforts as well as from the "center". If this weren't the case, how would Marxism (to pick one example) ever have succeeded? How would a tiny group of monestaries turned nothern Europe upside down for Christ?

Hunter is a brilliant sociologist and it shows. But his institional focus blinds him to the power of small communities.

If we are lucky, the anti-Chrisian establishment will be blind to it as well. As we quietly educate and equip our children, and patiently make faithful culture in and for local Chrisian communities, we will build a distinct, biblical culture which will overtake the behemoth and leave it smoldering in our wake...

Thursday, September 08, 2005
What You Stumble across on the Net
like this paper on Christianity and the arts by Wheaton art historian John Walford.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Nasty Offender

I suspect that turning Edwards loose like that on modern evangelicals would grate on their modern sensibilities, too. But Americans, fearful and resentful of being thought provincial, have always been hungry for intellectual champions to put on a par with Europe. The same spirit that moved Benjamin Franklin to appropriate Bishop Berkeley's promise that "the Arts delight to travel Westward," and drove Thomas Jefferson to denounce the Comte de Buffon's sniggering mockery of America, drives us today to locate a legitimate 18th-century philosophical virtuoso in America, and Edwards has long seemed the most obvious candidate. But to place Edwards on that pedestal requires that we seal his contentious Calvinistic mouth. We need his genius, but we cannot accept it. And he would not be in the slightest degree surprised.

--from a review of Jonathan Edwards: America's Evangelical by Philip F. Gura

As a librarian and a writer/researcher I find the prospect of mass quantities of books skanned and searchable via the internet to be very exciting. YOu can already do this on Google and Amazon via A9. But of course this makes many people nervous.

This article seems to think that this will be no big deal. I hope so. But don't bet on it.

Friday, September 02, 2005
The devastation and loss of life wrought by Katrina is a great tragedy. But it is also an opportunity for renewal - cultural renewal.

If only there were an army of Christians ready to step in and shape New Orleans and other effected areas by biblical principles (see post below)...