The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Friday, March 31, 2006
Right Place/Right Time
Nice article by Ben House on Francis Schaeffer's legacy, focusing in particular on his film series/book How then Shall We Live.

An excerpt:

Schaeffer read the trendy philosophers; he watched the avant-garde movies; he delved into the liberal theologies; he examined the radical social critics. He acknowledged the Church’s failure on race issues. He even sided with the youth protest movement against the Establishment. Along with all this, he analyzed historical epochs, raising questions about the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. He ventured into the areas of art and architecture, positing Christian based interpretations. He was at home with classical music, well versed in literary classics, conversational about Plato and Aristotle, and at home with a world of “particulars” (to use a favorite phrase of his). Moreover, he did not look like or talk like a preacher!

Meanwhile, he calmly and rationally defended the notion of a living God who speaks to us in His Word and who saved us by sending Jesus to die on the Cross. Schaeffer’s work is flawed and obsolete at many points. Go back a few centuries and you will find Calvin prefacing every other paragraph with an indictment against Romanists, or Luther railing against the Holy Roman emperor. Go back beyond that and note that the great Augustine defended celibacy and strayed down many a goofy path. Even the Apostle Paul’s writings include a command for his cloak and parchments to be brought to him.

Schaeffer was not the greatest theologian, apologist, writer, speaker, or cultural critic of the age. I don’t think he tried to be. He did not seek to give the final word or definitive answer to any question. Perhaps he wanted his students to achieve that goal. America was failing in the 1970s; it has not completely recovered now in this new millennium. But the direction has changed. Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion and George Bush’s inaugural address both show Schaeffer’s influence, even though neither Gibson nor Bush may have ever read Schaeffer. Schaeffer’s students have written enough books to fill a library. The college students who read him now fill pulpits, occupy classrooms, write books and articles, and have web sites. Like Beowulf, he slew a few monsters in his day, and died still fighting other monsters. He was often a somber prophet, and his agenda reached more toward the past than the future.

I invite you to check out my article "The Importance of Hans Rookmaaker" which discusses Schaeffer's and Rookmaaker's influence on each other and the church.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Finding Another Word
Over at ByFaith Online they have posted a pretty good article that traces many of the contours of my book: "Easter for Enron – The Hope of Full Restoration: In the End, God Redeems Man's Work for the Sake of His Glory" by Dick Doster. They have also inititated an online discussion of this topic here.

This article got me thinking about something that disturbs me: the frequent use of the word redeem in connection with culture, work, art, etc. Repeatedly I see the phrase "redeem the culture", or "redeeming art". I know that Paul talked about "redeeming time" in Ephesians so that word is not necessarily limited to people, but is this the right word?

I think that a better word would be renewal or transformation. Or maybe recovered or reclaimed. Reborn?

What word do you think fits?

Monday, March 27, 2006
The Good and the Bad
Two reports from Cnet which came out today hightlight how technology can be used for good or for ill.

The Good: The Ten year anniversary of Palm handheld - as useful a tool as any.

The Bad: An article on how cell phones are used for cheating on tests.

Its a matter of direction.

Friday, March 24, 2006
Taking Common Grace Too Far?
The following is an excerpt from the essay The Radical Life and Thought of Abraham Kuyper by Matt Swanson.
Kuyper's doctrine of common grace is also very empowering for Christian engagement in the world, because it eliminates the idea that the world is an evil place, and that in order to remain holy, Christians must flee from it. Rather, the world is the sphere of God's common grace, where he allows Christians and non-Christians alike to do good. Therefore, truth can be found in the philosophy of non-Christians, beauty can be found in their art, and very beneficial developments can and have been made by non-Christian science. However, it does not call for naïve assimilation in the world. The doctrine of the antithesis balances the idea of common grace, and is instructive for understanding the radically different conclusions Christians and non-Christians can come to in all these fields. Thus, there is room for Christians to work faithfully in a non-Christian workplace, but also for the development of distinctly Christian schools, businesses, etc.

It raises a couple of questions for me: First, is this an accurate summation of what Kuyper thought? Second, is it reasonable to say that "the world" isn't and "evil place"? How does this interact with the Kuyperian doctrine of the antithesis?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006
photos I discovered by Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison. The one below is titled "Reclamation".

Another site with their works.

Monday, March 20, 2006
Can it be ever be good for you? Author Robert Bruegmann thinks that it can be. His book. An article on his ideas. Another article.

Friday, March 17, 2006
'Bout Time
I just found out that there is at least one evangelical college that offers an MFA in studio art. Cool!

Thursday, March 16, 2006
In a Nutshell
Paul Otto, fellow Newbergian and a fellow member of Trinity OPC, recently wrote this fine little article on a Neocalvinistic worldview for a newsletter for George Fox University, where he teaches history. Those Quakers never saw it comin'...

Friday, March 10, 2006
Better Half
My wife, who in another life was Jesus Freak folk singer Marj Snyder, has had one of her songs rereleased as part of an anthology of "unknown" female folkies from the late 60s: Wayfaring Strangers: Ladies From The Canyon. It is phenomenally well produced including a nicely designed booklet. Most of the artists included are Christians.

Be warned: you might want to wear beads and put flowers in your hair after listening to this CD!

Thursday, March 09, 2006
Interview with a Con
with the writer who coined the term "cruchy conservatism".

Wednesday, March 08, 2006
stuff (samplers mostly) from Square Halo Books.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Right Focus

...we Christians cannot set as our goal the becoming of a counterculture for the common good. Nor can we directly seek the elimination of the vices and illusions that constrain our attempts to love our neighbors as we should. We will strip away our self-deceit and become a true light unto the nations only by seeking and becoming faithful to the call of the Gospel. If we eventually become a true counterculture for the common good, that counterculture (and that good) will simply be the product of our faithfulness.

--Alan Jacobs, in Christianity Today

One might add to this, that we need to be faithful to a Gospel not of mere salvation, but of restoration as well.

A cool idea proposed by Mr. Baus.

(Not entirely tongue-in-cheek I hope.)

Monday, March 06, 2006
What do you suppose is "The Most Influential Artwork of the 20th Century"?


Friday, March 03, 2006
A Friend in Need
I just found out from the folks at Image Magazine about a horrible farming accident that befell Larry Woiwode. Thank God his injuries weren't worse. Woiwode, who has been a good friend over the years, is one of finest Christian novelists and writers around. And he is an elder in the OPC and staunch defender of the Reformed faith.

Andrew Sandlin asks: Does an actor's lifestyle matter in assessing the worth of a movie?

Or is the only thing that is important the story and aesthetics?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006
American Idol Redoux
Byfaith online magazine reports

PCA member David Radford is now an American Idol Top 10 finalist. He is the son of TE Bill Radford, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Lake in the Hills, Illinois. You can help David make it to the next by voting for him in this week's program.

Is this what we mean by engaging the culture?