The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Friday, September 29, 2006
Its Only Work
This C.S. Lewis quote on Doug Wilson's blog caught my eye:

"Artists also talk of Good Work; but decreasingly. They begin to prefer words like ‘significant,’ important,’ contemporary,’ or ‘daring.’ These are not, to my mind, good symptoms" (C.S. Lewis, The World’s Last Night, p. 72).

Not good symptoms indeed.

Rookmaaker and Seerveld emphasize again and again the dire importance of seeing art-making as a craft - as a job. Artists are not some sort of special case. Art-making is a vocation like any other vocation. That artists are like high-wire acrobats "working without a net" as they death defyingly slather paint across a canvas (or better yet, drip the paint on the canvas!) is a BIG FAT LIE of modernism. Christian artists need to avoid drinking that koolaid.

Which is why (see my previous post) Christians need to connected to the local body.

Now more than ever.

Thursday, September 28, 2006
Visit a Museum for Free!
If you haven't already heard about it, The Smithsonian is sponsoring a free pass for two to many museums (art, history and other) this coming Saturday (30th).

I don't know if I will have the time this Saturday to take advantage of this (if I do, I would like to see the Oregon Historal Society in Portland) because I am trying to get my back yard finished before the rainy season starts. But maybe...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006
A Daily Humble Job
I found this at Mark Bertrand's blog.

"Some readers by now are looking for my theory of the way to produce Christian art or write Christian fiction, since theories are what people believe govern the world. They don't, and I have none. I am working out my aesthetics (and perhaps salvation) with each book--with this one--and each book poses unique problems. But I can assure you that you will not begin to form your own aesthetics or way or writing unless you first belong to a church that teaches you fellowship and unity within Christ, and then begin to see writing as your daily humble job within that community. . . .

--Larry Woiwode, Acts (Harper Collins, 1993), pp. 74.

I don't think that this can be stressed enough: Christian artists need to be connected to a church community - and not just a bunch of believing artistic types, but a diverse (in age, background, vocation) body. Artists need to be connected to "regular" people.

When Woiwode wrote this, he was a member of a tiny OPC congragation (where he still is) on the North Dakota prairie. (About as far from a Starbucks as one can get in the US.)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006
A Pretty Good Plow
From Books & Culture - a review of The John Deere Story:

Deere's 1837 creation wasn't the first steel plow, and John never claimed to have invented it. Others had bolted or otherwise used steel to cut the soil, but Deere's design was the best. His plow stayed clean and sharp and was said to sing as it cut through the tough prairie soil. When work as a blacksmith once again became harder to find, Deere began slowly shifting into the plow-making business. He built 10 plows in 1839, 40 plows in 1840, and by 1842 Deere was hammering out 100 plows.

The painting on the cover of my book is Fall Plowing by Grant Wood. When I found it (Doug Jones asked my to find a appropriate image) I thought it was the perfect image for what I was trying to say in Plowing. The iconic image illustrated perfectly how the prairie has been tranformed into the fruitful plains. This was largely due to Mr. Deere's plow.

The additional irony is that Wood's painting is owned by the John Deere Company in Iowa.

Monday, September 25, 2006
Blast from the Past
That is to say, Pete Steen. Article by Bryan Borger on Comment.

Steen had an impact on my life, albeit indirectly. I met or heard him a couple of times circa 1980. In that way he didn't have that much of an impact. (I remember him being an energetic, funny loudmouth.)

His influence on me was more indirect. Steen's effect on others helped shape my Kuyperian approach to culture and art. Like my friend Ian who met Steen at Geneva College and through whom I first heard of Dooyeweerd. Ian scored a copy of Seerveld's A Christian Critique of Art and Literature from a tiny bookstore/office on Chatham College that was the first book I ever read on art from a Christian perspective. And there was Steen's influence on Coalition for Christian Outreach which sponsored the Jubilee Conference where I first heard Calvin Seerveld in 1977.

I never became a full-blown follower of Dooyeweerd. But I did become a Christian cultural activist. And in part this is due to Pete Steen.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Baus on Frame, Kline and Dooyeweerd

A reponse to our discussion in comments to below entries on Sept. 18 and 15.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Monday, September 18, 2006
Our Scintillating Future
Anthony Hoekema:

The possibilities that now rise before us boggle the mind. Will there be "better Beethoven" on the new earth, as one author has suggested? Shall we then see better Rembrandts, better Raphaels, better Constables? Shall we read better poetry, better drama, and better prose?

Will scientists continue to advance in technological achievement, will geologists continue to dig out the treasures of the earth, and will architects continue to build imposing and attractive structures? Will there be exciting new adventures in space travel? Shall we perhaps be able to explore new Perelandras? We do not know. But we do know that human dominion over nature will then be perfect. Our culture will glorify God in ways that surpass our most fantastic dreams.

This all means a lot for us now. If there is continuity as well as discontinuity between this earth and the new earth, we must work hard to develop our gifts and talents, and to come as close as we can to producing, in the strength of the Spirit, a Christian culture today. Through our kingdom service, the building materials for the new earth are now being gathered. Bibles are being translated, peoples are being evangelized, believers are being renewed, and cultures are being transformed. Only eternity will reveal the full significance of what has been done for Christ here on earth.

A scintillating future awaits us—not a future of disembodied existence (though this will be an earlier part of it), but everlasting life in glorified bodies on the new earth. Compared with the immeasurable span of eternity, this present life is but a passing moment, a fleeting sigh.

We look forward eagerly to that new earth, which will far surpass in splendor anything that we have ever seen before.

Friday, September 15, 2006
Ghost Story
The comments/responses in the post below from Baus make me think about nature of the Kingdom of God. Is the Kingdom only spiritual (now or in the future)? Or does the Kingdom involve physical things too (like painting and schools and lovemaking)?

Form many reformed Christians, the Kingdom of God is only a spiritual thing, as this article by DG Hart (see reference to his new book below) makes all too clear.

For me, one of GLORIES of the reformed faith is that it involves all of life including the physical stuff.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Who said:

I believe that there is no work more worthy of pope or emperor than a thorough reform of the universities. And on the other hand, nothing could be more devilish or disastrous than unreformed universities.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Do Not Be Conformed
More cultural wisdom from Doug Wilson:

We are not just entertained by our amusements, we are shaped by them. If those entertainments are worldly, the world behind them is working energetically to press us into its mold, and to make us conform to its wisdom.


But we want to come to worship God according to His Word. This means that we should frequently find our worldly assumptions affronted, sometimes insulted, and always challenged. Receive such challenges – such admonitions are oil upon the head. Remember that the kisses of an enemy are profuse – your entertainments are flattering you with countless lies. But faithful are the wounds of a friend. The worship of God in the beauty of holiness is the true friend of sinners.

Are you wounded by your worship?

Monday, September 11, 2006
More Pseudo-Reformed Silliness

I wonder if Hart makes a biblical argument for seperation. Or maybe its a natural law thing. Hmm.

Friday, September 08, 2006
Thinking about Architecture and Cities
from a Christian Perspective.

That is what this article by David Greusel in Comment investigates.

This article from a Catholic perspective in First Things is also worth a look.

I had a terrific talk last Sunday with a friend and fellow member of the OPC who has been a planner for more than 20 years. Along the way we discussed New Urbanism and Jane Jacobs. We both thought that New Urbanist communities had a really fake quality about them (like Disneyland). His observation about Jacobs somewhat startled me. He saw Jacobs as primarly libertarian in her approach to cities - a response to the heavy-handed planning of modernists who wanted to raze neighborhoods and put in high rises. So the NU theorists (who claim to have Jacobs as their patron saint) are actually making the same mistake as the modernists - just in a quainter, gentler and more (to our eyes) aesthetic way.


Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Worth Reading
A kind of prelimary review of the new multi-volume history of Christianity by Cambridge Univ Press by Philip Jenkins. Jenkins includes a summary of his view of overall historical trends and where he sees the contemporary church going in the coming decades.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006
John Frame bodyslams TKV.


This Kuyperian approach should not be taken to imply that state and church should be merged, or that human cultural effort alone brings in the kingdom of God, or that all the arts should devote themselves entirely to evangelism, or that the church should become worldly. A number of people, such as Michael Horton, have charged that the Kuyperian view leads to such errors. But all the Kuyperians want to say is that Christian involvement in all cultural areas should be governed by the word of God. Of course, if the word of God says that state and church should be merged, then state and church should be merged. But it doesn’t say that. Some Christians in the past have erred in this respect, as when they have tried to achieve power for the church by wielding the sword. But they have erred, not in seeking to bring Scripture to bear on public life, but in misunderstanding what Scripture requires. And, although the errors of our ancestors should motivate more humility on our part when we try to apply Scripture to society, these errors are entirely irrelevant to the question of whether we should today seek to apply Scripture to culture.

Writing in Books
I presently rarely write in books. I occationally put little brackets or dots next to a sentence or paragraph that I want to find later. But actual words and signs I tend to avoid.

I really hate books that others have marked up. It can be unnerving to find a used book that I always wanted to own that has highling or underlining. So I try to keep my own books unmarked in the thought that someone else might end up using them.

With all this in mind, it really interesting to read about John Adams marginalia in the NYT Book Review. There is an exhibit of his books at the Boston Public Library and there is web site as well. To ready his notations is to see inside Adams brilliant mind. To eavesdrop in on a conversation. I guess I'll forgive him for his transgression.

(This review piece by Garrison Keillor on photography and 9/11 is also worth a read. What an overdocumented world we live in...)

Friday, September 01, 2006

Photograph by Luisa Lambri Untitled (Barragán House, #20)