The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Wednesday, May 31, 2006
British artist Damien Hirst has plans to create the most expensive contemporary artwork ever made: "a life-size human skull cast in platinum and encased entirely in diamonds - some 8,500 in all. It will be the most expensive work of art ever created, costing between £8m and £10m."

'I just want to celebrate life by saying to hell with death,' said the artist, 'What better way of saying that than by taking the ultimate symbol of death and covering it in the ultimate symbol of luxury, desire and decadence? The only part of the original skull that will remain will be the teeth. You need that grotesque element for it to work as a piece of art. God is in the details and all that.'

Tuesday, May 30, 2006
The Portland Art Museum was free yesterday and really wanted to see the show of Italian painting from the Brescia city/region.

It was all pretty art historical, which I love. There were a number of high quality Rennaissance portraits. Even some Dutch lanscapes (some of these guys got around!) But the delight of the entire show was a group of paintings by Giacomo Ceruti of peasants painted in greys and tans against plain backgrounds. These were simply stunning.

Friday, May 26, 2006
Green Roots?
From Andrew Sandlin:

Enlightenment thinkers externalized the world, but Rousseau re-interiorized it in dramatic ways. While for Enlightenment, nature is to be harnessed by man, for Rousseau, “an emotional attunement to it can transfigure human existence.” To oversimplify, man does not harness nature so much as nature harnesses (or should harness) man. Indeed, for Rousseau, man’s main problem has been his retreat from nature, his creating “culture,” with all its conventions that shield him from a simple, direct unity with nature. To Rousseau the great Edenic “Fall” is the fall not from God, but from nature. This “back to nature” program has been the clarion call of various Western revolutionaries...

Sound a bit like the environmental movement?

(I've some non-environmental Christians talk this way as well, denying the goodness of call to make culture.)

Thursday, May 25, 2006
Taste and See
Calvin Seerveld on how faith-based artwork doesn't have to be overtly "religious" in order to be fully Christian:

The Bible often enters artistry as a leaven in ways one cannot clearly point to as so much taste in the artistic bread distributed.

(from Hearts & Minds Booknotes)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006
turns 65 today.

Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now.

Monday, May 22, 2006
Sfumato and Mirrors
I really like Gideon Strauss' terse entry on Code and its attendant hype.

Gets me thinking: Is Da Vinci overrated? I think he is definitely overrated as a painter. But he was a great, great draftsman and his drapery studies are electrifying.

I can't imagine seeing this movie anytime soon. Maybe when the local library gets it and its free.

Thursday, May 18, 2006
Veith and Duchamp
I would never for a moment accuse Gene Veith of being a promoter of Dada "art" theory. For example, he says this about the contemporary art scene:

"Art is whatever an artist does. In a kind of crazed secular Puritanism, contemporary theorists have been seeking to ‘purify’ art, to strip it of its human content and to reduce it to its barest minimum. The consequence has been the dehumanization of art." [Gene Veith, State of the Arts (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1991), p. 59]

But when he implies a fairly informal (loose?) definition of art, as he does here:

"The art world today tends to scorn art that is ‘merely decorative.’ Choosing a painting because it matches the furniture does tend to minimize the work of art. The meaning of the work and its self-contained identity is neglected, giving the object of art no more status than the coffee table or the wallpaper. Decorative art fades into the background. And yet, decoration is a legitimate function of the arts. When we decorate our homes, we are, in effect, turning where we live into a work of art." [Gene Veith, State of the Arts (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1991), pp. 33-34]

he is moving perilously close to the everthing-is-art mentality of Duchamp & Co. A living room may be artistically (aesthetically) decorated and may contain works of art, but it is not a work of art. And to paraphrase Gordon Clark: sometimes everything means nothing.

(quotes stolen from Doug Wilson's blog)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Mediator with Dirty Fingers
from a review of Vigen Guroian's The Fragrance of God which appeared in Books & Culture:

Rather than interloper or exploiter, Guroian argues, man's essential role on the Earth is that of a gardener, gifted with the responsibility to cultivate creation and offer it as thanksgiving to God. We are "apprentices" to the "Master Gardener." "Paradise is not wilderness," he writes, which will surely provoke discussion among his readers. "Paradise is a garden, cultivated by Adam and blessed by God." Without human presence, he argues, creation is mute and cannot glorify the Creator. He quotes Byzantine churchman Leontis of Neapolis to bolster his argument: "The creation does not venerate the Creator directly and by itself, but it is through me that the heavens declare the glory of God, through me the moon worships God, through me the stars glorify him, through me the waters and showers of rain, the dews and all creation, venerate God and give him glory."

Monday, May 15, 2006
Why Buy a Painting
when you can actually live in one of those cute little cottages?

(Come to think of it, its not too far from Christ Church and NSA in Moscow, ID...)

Friday, May 12, 2006
Who said:

"But frankly, I don't think it [The DaVinci Code] has more harmful ideas in it than the Left Behind novels."

Fathers Be Good to your Daughters
One way we do that is to classically educate them. Touchstone magazine as a delightful article "Not Harvard Bound" which celebrates the classical Christian school movement. This discussion of the young student "Promise" sounds much like vision we have for our daughters. Rigorous intellectual development is not the enemy of femininity. Rather it enhances it.

Thursday, May 11, 2006
Well Said
Doug Wilson:

The problem is that subtle minds want to be subtle all the time, and everything ain't subtle. The problem is that simple minds want to be simple all the time, and everything ain't simple. Scriptural leadership means being simple where God is simple (what part of "thou shalt not" went over your head?) and subtle when God is subtle (some things in Paul's letters are hard to understand, and which ignorant and unstable people twist to their own destruction).

Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Too Good/Bad to Pass Up


Is Google the Perfect Postmodern Company?
From a perceptive article in the Weekly Standard:

Consequently, each unconventional soul becomes, in the words of Alexis de Tocqueville, "enclosed in their own hearts." Originality replaces a common ethical code as the source of individual morality. The result is the countercultural ethic of "doing your own thing" in which everyone is free to pursue their own conscience.

This ethic of authenticity is the key to understanding Google and, as a bonus, gives us a sneak preview of the next big thing in the global economy: authentic capitalism.


So, is Google good or is Google evil?

Perhaps the best answer is the Nietzschean idea of being beyond good and evil. The ethic of authenticity, known to philosophers like Charles Taylor as radical moral relativism, is the new new-thing in Silicon Valley. Google's moral self confidence, its eagerness to do its own thing, whether in Africa, China, or outer space, makes it a pioneer of authentic capitalism. Google's moral code, its sense of right and wrong, its definition of justice, is what it says it is.

Monday, May 08, 2006
This is an Idea Store. People are trying to study in here...

Friday, May 05, 2006
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Like the Maytag Repairman
conservative librarians are a rare breed. So I took note of this fine article on librarianship which recently appeared on Catapult.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Rite Turn
"The Liturgy of the Street" An article on New Urbanism from a Catholic perspective.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Half Full or Half Empty?

More pessemistic (empty?) theology from Dr. Horton.

Sure the hyper optimism of name-it-and-claim-it crowd is tragically wrong. But to embrace the morbid pessism of Luther's "theology of the cross" is equally devastating. Does God use suffering in this life to shape us into the image of his Son? Surely. Does God allow us frequently to have success in doing his will in this life and fill our lives with peace, happiness and feasting in this life? This is surely true as well. In both a spiritual and physical/material sense.

Additional note: I can't wait to see the rush for these mugs in Christian bookstores...

Monday, May 01, 2006
Theological Myopia
Here is a tragic quote from Al Mohler, who should know better:

The goal of Christianity is not cultural renewal, but rather, preaching the Gospel to sinners.

Two responses:
One from Pastor Shaun
One from Pastor Mark (:HT)

Mohler's view reminds me of the man who went to visit a national park, drove in, immediate turned around and left, saying, "really nice entry road."