The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Friday, April 28, 2006
Worship Technology
In C-Net Today:

In recent years, members of the clergy have begun competing with MTV, video games and the Internet by jazzing up sermons with image magnification systems and large-screen video displays, a la Apple Computer's Steve Jobs at a product launch. The trend has evolved, and churches now are Webcasting to distant parishioners with sophisticated multicamera operations and pumping up the volume inside worship areas with state-of-the-art sound systems.

"It's like going to a rock concert," says Patrick Teagarden, one of the growing number of sound-and-video technicians whose main customers are churches. "It's a fact: Media helps make it easier for people to pay attention."

Catholics at Wheaton
Or the lack thereof. Musings by Alan Jacobs in First Things in which he asks:

What elements of Wheaton’s mission are aided by its faculty being confined to Protestants? This, it seems to me, is the question that matters most.

Here is a possible answer: Wheaton College (at least theoretically) has at its foundation and core a commitment to the sole authority of Scripture at the measure of truth and academic pursuits. The Church of Rome wants to share this authority with tradition. There is where the two must part ways.

Thursday, April 27, 2006
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Poetry in the Ugly
A co-worker shared with me a recent issue of the New Yorker, in which I read:

Whatever our differences, we agreed that the Cross-Bronx Expressway, a deep, eternally sluggish river of brakelights and diesel exhaust coursing through a waste of twisted rebar and abandoned scrap, is as gruesome a stretch of highway as exists in these parts.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006
I didn't know that Salman Rushdie was a Christian writer. Well it is the Festival of Faith & Writing...

Monday, April 24, 2006
Private Treasures
Recent articles on two great private art collections:

Her Majesty the Queens Collections (including a Vermeer)

Morgan Library and Museum (with accompanying video)

Friday, April 21, 2006
More Horton Critique
Andrew Sandlin has recently penned an thorough critique of Michael Horton's argument for Christian cultural abdication. It really is a must read.

If I might offer a minor critique of Sandlin's position, he opens his essay:

Christian activism, by which I mean simply any Christian attempt to improve society, has had its ups and downs over the centuries.

As I explore in Plowing in Hope I think the notorion of Christian activism as improving society is far too limited. We do seek to remove the effects of sin from existing culture, but our basic calling is to improve (develop) creation. We must never lose sight of our original Edenic calling.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Who Said:

"When principles that run against your deepest convictions begin to win the day, then battle is your calling, and peace has become your sin; you must, at the price of dearest peace, lay your convictions bare before friend and enemy, with all the fire of your faith."

Monday, April 17, 2006
Blockbuster at the Rijksmuseum

Nearly every conceivable angle of Rembrandt studies having been explored by now, the conversation that took place among the Rijksmuseum officials putting it together must have sounded something like this:

"Well, everybody loved van Gogh and Gauguin, Picasso and Braque, Picasso and Matisse. Why not Rembrandt and Caravaggio?" Silence. "Because they never met? Because Caravaggio was dead when Rembrandt was 4. Because they lived in different countries and Rembrandt never even saw a painting by Caravaggio?"

Strictly speaking, it is actually a ludicrous idea for an exhibition — so unorthodox that it causes you to look differently at pictures you may have seen a million times, either in the flesh or in reproduction.

--from the New York Times

Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Are you Disenthralled?

... Christian higher education is necessary for disenthralling ourselves from the modern mind.

--Henry Zylstra, from Testament of Vision (from an article he wrote in 1955)

I might add that today we need to be disenthralled from the postmodern mind as well.

Monday, April 10, 2006
Men in Black [?]
Here come the Reformed monastics? James K.A. Smith in an article in Comment thinks this may be the way to go (part of his "neocalvinist toolbox"):

Indeed, not even monks deserve this critique! As I have already suggested, "alternative" monastic communities are not a withdrawal from culture as such. They are attempts to resist a dominant and corrosive direction of cultural institutions by embodying alternative configurations which reflect the possibilities for re-directing these institutions in Christ. The monastic community has an economic ordering, too. The Church catholic—the first globalized institution—holds out the possibility for a global alternative of redeemed institutions and practices of commerce, distribution, and exchange, which resist the dominant direction of commerce under the sway of capitalism. Desertion, then, is not a way of abandoning the world, but a way of showing the world what it could be.

Thursday, April 06, 2006
More on Rembrandt
I just discovered this excellent site for the art of Rembrandt. Very thorough. An excellent source of large reproductions of RVR's etchings.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006
A piece just posted on Books & Culture on David Block's book Baseball before we Knew itmentions a variation of the game the author calls "Mill Creek Baseball":

Imagine a ball game that we can easily visualize in contrast to baseball. It has three bases and a home plate. There are three players on a side, with a steady pitcher. He also covers the plate on some plays, since there is no catcher and no bunting. There are no walks or stealing. Batters may strike out, but the pitcher does not try to strike them out, but rather to have the batter put the ball into play. If two players are on base, the batter needs not only to get a hit but also to hit sufficiently well to score the lead runner, who is otherwise out. That is, there are no "ghost runners." If there is another player under the age of seven or so, he becomes a steady batter, with a place in each lineup; he cannot strike out, and the ghost runner issue becomes nugatory.

Takes me back to countless days of stickball in my neighborhood playground - the ideal sport for a hot August afternoon...

There is also a facinating take on the origin of baseball:

More important, for Block, is his challenge to the alternative accounts that have arisen since scholarship debunked the Cooperstown fable. A legion of historians has told us that in the 18th century the English played various ball games. One of these was "rounders," a game so called because the players went "round" some bases. Baseball, these historians have informed us, derives from rounders. The American game has its roots in an earlier English game that colonists transformed after they migrated to the New World.

Block argues that this story too is wrong. What really happened is that in the 1700s the English (and the French and Germans) did play a variety of games that involved upwards of two players and that used bats, balls, and bases in many different ways. One dominant set of games used bases (Block calls this set English base-ball). Both baseball and rounders came from English base-ball, but rounders developed only in England, and indeed developed later than baseball, which had an independent growth in the United States. Although the national pastime had its origins in England, rounders is not its mother but only a younger brother.