The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Friday, December 30, 2005
A Giant Step Backwards
Jeff Meyers recently posted on reponses to his book: The Lord's Service Questions - All of Life is Worship?. Here is part of his post:

The point is: work is not worship. All of life is worship only in a metaphorical (though real) sense. You can work with a worshipful attitude. That's fine. You can and should by faith work for the glory of God keeping his law! That's great, too. But working with that motivation, goal, and according to God's standard comes about as the result of proper Sunday corporate worship. Fixing a meal for the family is not worship. Eating the Lord's Supper with your local body of Christ is. You learn how to eat gracefully at the Lord's Table. But eating dinner at your family table is different than eating at the Lord's Table with the church.

If what Meyers means is the work is not "formal worship" that is fine. I can agree with him. But if he means that our work is not worship in a very real sense, he is missing the point. He would appear to be returning the Medieval mess of a sacred/secular distinction. As Genesis 2:15 shows, abad, which refers to the cultural development of the earth means to work, to worship and the serve. Work was the same as worship in the garden. Shouldn't it be same today?

I develop this idea in the postscript of my book, "Culture and Sabbath".

I can't disagree enough with Meyer's take on this question. If we fail to see the our cultural endeavors are worship, they will always take a second place to formal worship. The monestery is only a couple of steps away...

Thursday, December 29, 2005
Worth a Look
Artisan Magazine out of the UK. For Christians in the Media, Arts and Entertainment. Features a monthly column by Nigel Goodwin.

While were on the topic of Christians involved in the arts, there is this conference in NYC sponsored by IAM.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Too Generous?
Some quotes from Brian McLaren's A Generous Orthodoxy taken from Doug Wilson's latest entry on on the book:

"I must add, though, that I don't believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish contexts. This will be hard, you say, and I agree. But frankly, it's not at all easy to be a follower of Jesus in many 'Christian' religious contexts, either." (p. 260)

"In this light, although I don't hope all Buddhists will become (cultural) Christians, I do hope all who feel so called will become Buddhist followers of Jesus; I believe they should be given that opportunity and invitation. I don't hope all Jews or Hindus will become members of the Christian religion. But I do hope all who feel so called will become Jewish or Hindu followers of Jesus." (p. 264)

At appears we need the Antithesis more than ever. What we need are Christians who ARE cultural Christians. More than ever.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Sign of the Apocalypse?
Wonder Bread will no longer be available in Oregon.

We may have to buy some so my kids can at least experience it...

Friday, December 23, 2005
Big Apple
Article from Work Comment on ministering to NYC, particularly from Redeemer PCA's perspective.

A thought: the article notes that Redeemer currently has 4500 members. What if they broke the congregation down into 20+ congregations of 200 members each located in the various neighborhoods across the city. Wouldn't that make a bigger impact on the city? Wouldn't that make the church more visible?

Thursday, December 22, 2005
Daniel of the Year
From World Magazine: New York painter Makoto Fujimura.

Note to Makoto: don't eat the food.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
The biography by Laurel Gasque has now been published individually by Good News/Crossway. (Before it was available only in the Complete Works of Rookmaaker.) You can read the first chapter here.

Gasque's biography was invaluable for my essay on HRR published by Comment.

As I say in the article, Rookmaaker is largely responsible for my involvement in art and Christian cultural activism.

Monday, December 19, 2005
I have been really enjoying Doug Wilson's extended critique of McLaren's A Generous Orthodoxy (link to series). If Wilson is even one-tenth correct in his analysis of McLaren, McLaren's book is very dangerous. It is liberalism dressed up in a cloak of purported humility.

Despite those who try to deny it, A Generous Orthodoxy is at the heart of the so-called emergent movement (not everyone in this movement may agree with McLaren, but the majority do). What is really frightening is how many reformed folk out there might be reading this book approvingly...

Friday, December 16, 2005
The Play's the Thing
An article by Ben House on reviving Medieval morality-style plays - in his case using them as a part of a Christman festival at a Christian school.

Here is an idea (more in keeping with how these plays were originally produced): Put on a series of plays at a public square or park in your community. Each play could be sponsored by a local Christian business in much the same way the guilds sponored the plays in the middle ages. It would be a marvelous way to get the biblical message out to our neighbors, bring the Christian community together, and give Christian actors a venue for their craft.

(They did something similar with some of Doug Jones' plays in Moscow at last summer's Trinity Fest.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005
A Bit More on Johnny Cash
I just watched the music video Cash made of Nine Inch Nail's song "Hurt" on Yahoo Music. (This is the video mentioned in the Touchstone article mentioned in my earlier post.)

This video is super powerful, even more poinant when I realized that Cash was at death's door. Seeing the sadness on June Carter's face only added to the video's sober truth. Cash captures the message of Ecclesiates in the most haunting, beautiful way. (I could do without the images of Christ. But I can't have it all...)

Monday, December 12, 2005
Evangelistic Tool?
Granted, this is a tiny sampling. But this excerpt from a Yahoo news story demonstrates the serious limitations of using stories for evangelism, esp. in a post-Christian, postmodern culture. But then this probably was not what Lewis was trying to do anyway.
Mom Cyndee Lord, 47, says the movie got raves from all of her children, ages 8 to 15. "They loved it." And the connections to Jesus "didn't really make any difference to them. I told them and they said 'Oh, really?' "

Chris Benson, 32, of Lithonia, Ga., says that's likely to be the response for many viewers. "It was a bit religious, especially Aslan's sacrifice for the sins of others and his subsequent resurrection, but it was just part of the story. I would guess that much of the younger audience won't even notice unless they're told about it."

Chelsey Panisch, 19, of Miami went to see Narnia because "Like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, there's something wonderful about going to see a story that has touched and influenced so many people. It was absolutely majestic."

She was aware of the faith element from media coverage. "For those who want to see a religious message in it and interpret it as something good, then more power to them. Otherwise, I don't think that will be much of an issue."

Friday, December 09, 2005
More on Johnny Cash
from a nice article at Touchstone:

Cash always seemed to connect. When other Christian celebrities tried to down-play sin and condemnation in favor of upbeat messages about how much better life is with Jesus, Cash sang about the tyranny of guilt and the certainty of coming judgment. An angst-ridden youth culture may not have fully comprehended guilt, but they understood pain. And, somehow, they sensed Cash was for real.

The face of Johnny Cash reminded this generation that he has tasted everything the MTV culture has to offer—and found there a way that leads to death. In a culture that idolizes the hormonal surges of youth, Cash reminds the young of what MTV doesn’t want them to know: “It is appointed to man once to die, and after this the judgment.” His creviced face and blurring eyes remind them that there is not enough Botox in all of Hollywood to revive a corpse.


Perhaps if Christian churches modeled themselves more after Johnny Cash, and less after perky Christian celebrities such as Kathy Lee Gifford, we might find ourselves resonating more with the MTV generation. Maybe if we stopped trying to be “cool,” and stopped hiring youth ministers who are little more than goateed game-show hosts, we might find a way to connect with a generation that understands pain and death more than we think.

Thursday, December 08, 2005
Smoldering Feminism
in the PCA? The most recent debate at ByFaith Online.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Unforgettable Fire
Doug Wilson has such a way of putting things:

"The critic of Thomas Kinkade paintings, where all the puddles on the ground have their eerie radioactive glow, and all the bungalows look like the living room has just caught on fire, is assumed to be a critic who is hostile to home, hearth, and wholesome family values. But the actual object of his hostility is the misrepresentation of home and hearth -- why must a friend of traditional values believe that the windows of homey little cottages must glow like they housed Nebuchadnezzar's furnace"

(from A Serrated Edge, p. 68).

Although I have to wonder: does anyone really think that a critic of Kinkade is an enemy of home and hearth?

"Every man knows he is a sissy compared to Johnny Cash."

Monday, December 05, 2005
"Ships Passing in the Night"
Read about Francis Schaeffer's encounter with Malcolm Muggeridge. Talk about heavyweights!

(Love the illustrations)

Friday, December 02, 2005
New Gadget out for the Holidays?

Congratulations on purchasing your new iPod Zepto.

Capable of holding 12 million songs and only one-tenth the size of the head of a needle, the iPod Zepto is a revolution in sound. Once filled with music, the iPod Zepto will play for over 68 years without playing the same song twice.

Enclosed with your iPod Zepto are a USB 4.0 cable, an iTunes 12.1 starter disk, earphones, and a high-magnification lens. (An optional follicle-mounting strap is available.)

Read more.

What to Make of This?
Andrew Sandlin now calls himself a Christian postmodernist.

Thursday, December 01, 2005
One of the things I bought in Moscow while I was there was a used copy of Bob Dylan's Slow Train Coming, a marvelous album which features Mark Knopfler's fine guitar work. Listening to the album again brought me back to the late 70s when I first heard the album on WNEW while working on an injection molder the size of house. I was so excited! There was no doubt about it: Bob was a Christian. And his songs were so deep and biblical and artful. The prospects for Christian culture seemed really encouraging...

What happened?

Now I read about novelist Ann Rice and her turnaround. Reportedly she is influenced by N.T. Wright, D.A. Carson, Leon Morris and Ken Gentry. I wonder where she will be in ten years...