The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Is There a Christian Plumber in the House?
In case you haven't already discovered it yet, I strongly committed to the idea that there is a distinctive Christian culture: that NOTHING in the cultural arena is in any sense (especially regiously) neutral. Many Christians (including many Reformed Christians who should know better) disavow this idea.

Now I don't know why, but discussion about this issue always seems to come down to plumbing. This seems to be the ultimate candidate for possible neutrality.

Anyway...Over at the De Regno Christi blog, in response to this post, D.G. Hart has this to say in the comments:

For what it's worth, plumbing is a common activity that Christians and non-Christians pursue. Its norms come from the created order, and are conditioned by such things as metric versus US standard measurements. Not to sound biblicistic again, but I don't see plumbing norms revealed in holy writ, which is where we find Christ revealed, not in the created order. So plumbing is a common as opposed to a holy activity. It will for the Christian produce sanctification and allow him or her to love God and neighbor. But I see no reason to call the actual work of plumbing Christian. For that reason, I don't go to the Christian yellow pages to look for someone to fix my toilet.

Sure, there is nothing in the scriptures about fixing a leaky faucet. But this misses the point. As I remarked in this post several years ago:

So is there really a Christian way to do plumbing? I would argue that there is! When a plumber is installing or repairing pipes and fixtures correctly, he is performing his task in a Christian (i.e. faithful) manner, even if he is not a believer. In order to do the job effectively (and this applies to any endeavor, not just plumbing) a plumber must work with Christian presuppositions, such as the uniformity and predictability of God's created order, the actual existence of pipes, solder, faucets, etc., standards of what constitutes a task well-done and a correct view of ethics which governs how the job is to be done. Plumbers who don't operate by these presuppositions won't be effective plumbers. Thus, a consistent Hindu or philosophical skeptic will be a lousy plumber. But God in his common grace makes many non-Christians inconsistent in the way they approach fixing pipes, so that they submit to the norms of creation even though in their hearts they rebel against them and the God who established them. Conversly, many Christians are also sadly inconsistent in this regard; they are unfaithful to the Christian worldview as it governs plumbing even though they might otherwise embrace the Gospel.

Why is this so difficult?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Friday, June 23, 2006
Almost a Lost Art
One of the most interesting posts I have read in some time: "The old way of singing" over at the Dry Creek Chronicles. In the comments there are some mp3s one can down load to further investigate...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Cool Course
while snooping around Joel Garver department's web site at La Salle U (which he noted in his blog) I noticed this course description:

PHL 269 Work and Culture
3 credits/patterns 2 or concentration option
Offered in both Fall and Spring semesters

A philosophical consideration of the relationship between work and other dimensions of human life. Topics include: work and society, work and rationality, work and morality, work and play, work and creativity, and work and alienation.

Monday, June 19, 2006
Salting Cities
A one-evening seminar Stained Glass Urbanism is being put on by Work Research Foundation in nearby Vancouver, B.C. this coming Wednesday. Along with the seminar, it has published a string of articles on urbanism from a Christian perspective worth taking a long look at.

Their approach (see their white paper) might see New Urbanism through slightly rose-colored glasses. Brand new NU projects (such as Seaside, Fla) often come off as urban Disneylands rather than real cities. But it better than the suburban alternative. Purhaps NU holds more promise giving guidance to the restoration of cities neighborhoods - which is how WRF is seeing it.

If only it were a bit closer than a six hour drive! Alas.

Friday, June 16, 2006
FO in CA
The latest Credenda Agenda has some interestin' artikulls on Flannery O'Connor by Doug Jones and Peter Leithart (not online yet). I have to read and comment.

I had my Flannery phase about 20 years ago: but I got over it.

Thursday, June 15, 2006
Rules of Engagement

"My answer to the question about Christian involvement with popular culture is essentially the same. You can enjoy popular culture without compromising Biblical principles as long as you are not dominated by the sensibility of popular culture, as long as you are not captivated by its idols." [Kenneth Myers, All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1989), p. 180].

HT: Doug Wilson

Wednesday, June 14, 2006
One Giant Step Back
I have been looking over De Regno Christi blog that I first discovered at Greg Baus' blog (and see his comment below). There could be an opportunity for an interesting discussion from those of varying Reformed positions regarding Christianity and the Civil magistrate, and, secondarily, of culture in general.

As I read through the various posts by the members of the blog, I was taken aback by the position of David Van Drunen, which seems even more negative on cultural redemption than the White Horse Inn crowd. In fact, Van Drunen's position seems to be virtually anabaptistic on its view of culture:

...But I would suggest that as far as the nature and role of civil government and the Christian’s attitude towards it, the work of Christ’s first coming has meant simply the abrogation of the Israelite theocracy and a return to the days of Noah, Abraham, and the Babylonian exile for God’s people as far as civil affairs go.


The purpose of civil government as discussed in the Old Testament (looking at non-Mosaic theocratic contexts, for numerous reasons) is to avenge great wrong-doing by the power of the sword (e.g., Gen 4:15; 9:6) and, more generally, to provide a measure of peace and prosperity in the world (e.g., Jer 29:7). The New Testament provides nothing remotely resembling a political (or other social/civil/cultural) program, but what it does say echoes the OT teaching very closely. It’s still about avenging wrong-doing by the power of the sword (Rom 13:1-7) and providing a measure of peace and prosperity in the world (e.g., 1 Tim 2:2). Nowhere is there any command for Christians to seek a Christianized state or other social institutions, but they are commanded to look to the state for those same basic functions that the (non-theocratic) state was always supposed to provide.

Monday, June 12, 2006
You Painted over What?!!!
Headline: Popular 'Ed Ruscha' Mural Abruptly Painted Over (story from LA Times)

Friday, June 09, 2006
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Lotsa Good Stuff
from Reformation 21 on culture, including:

The Dynamics of Cultural Change by William Edgar

Johann Sebastian Bach: Model for Cultural Change Through the Arts by Greg Wilbur

A review of Philip Ryken's Art for God's Sake

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Plowing + Hip Hop + Fuller Seminary = ??? (Answer)

Books & Culture does suburbia

We have met the enemy - and it is cul-de-sacs...

Monday, June 05, 2006
Those Pilgrims Knew How to Party!
Maybe the Canadians have it right:

The feast happened; it lasted for days. The participants consisted of about 50 colonists and 100 Pokanoket Indians. It seems to have taken place not in November but in late September or October; we don't know about turkeys, only that the men went "fowling." One reason this feast became fixed in our collective memory is due to an accident of timing: the description of it is found in an account of doings in the colony — written probably by Edward Winslow and William Bradford — that was sent back to England; the ship carrying it sailed in the late fall, so that the narrative ends with the pleasant event, giving readers —then and later— a sense of hope and promise.

--from a review of Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick in the New York Times

Friday, June 02, 2006
Who Are You Working for?
from "God's Calling and our Daily Work " by John Armstrong:

Luther’s view opened the door for real change, but it did not go far enough. Whereas Luther argued that vocation was “a station in life,” Calvin developed this thinking further and concluded that “one can change the world through vocations” (Gritsch, The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation, p 245). For Luther the law showed what we could not do but for Calvin it did more, showing us what we should do and could do, by the power of the Spirit. Calvin further connected vocation to the doctrine of predestination, arguing that one proved their calling and election by the “posterior signs” of a divine call which were linked to one’s specific calling, or vocation, in this life. Simply put, the whole Christian life should be lived for the glory of God thus the believer who lives under God’s grace, in his or her vocation, “confirmed their calling and election” (2 Peter 1:10). This background is the context for the oft-debated “Protestant work ethic.”


[Most modern Christians] simply don’t know who they work for. As a result of this failure to understand our purpose we live our daily lives without meaning. We do not know why we work, struggle with the effects of the fall, or serve our neighbors. Because we have no one to work for, in terms of God’s calling, we find little meaning in what we do.