The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Another Take on the Reformation
from Mark Horne on the use of printing press to spread the 95 theses:

The Reformation was viral marketing. Luther was the first blogger.

Celebrating the Reformation's Liberation of Art
From Abraham Kuyper's Stone Lectures:

Religion also rises to that higher plain where it graduates from the symbolical into the clearly-conscious life, and thereby necessitates both the division of worship into many forms, and the emancipation of matured religion from all sacerdotal and political guardianship. In the 16th century Europe was approaching, though slowly, this higher level of Spiritual development, and it was not Lutheranism with its subjection of the whole nation to the religion of the prince, but Calvinism with its profound conception of religious liberty, which initiated the transition. In every country where Calvinism has made its appearance, it has led to a multiformity of life-tendencies, it has broken the power of the State within the domain of religion, and to a great extent has made an end of sacerdotalism. As a result of this, it abandoned the symbolical form of worship, and refused, at the demand of art, to embody its religious spirit in monuments of splendor.

The objection that such a symbolic service had a place in Israel does not weaken my argument, it rather supports it. For does not the New Testament teach us that the ministry of shadows, naturally flourishing under the old dispensation, under the dispensation of fulfilled prophecy is “old and waxeth aged and is nigh unto vanishing away? ”In Israel we find a state-religion, which is one and the same for the entire people. That religion is under sacerdotal leadership. And finally it makes its appearance in symbols, and is consequently embodied in the splendid temple of Solomon. But when this ministry of shadows has served the purposes of the Lord, Christ comes to prophesy the hour when God shall no longer be worshipped in the monumental temple at Jerusalem, but shall rather be worshipped in spirit and in truth. And in keeping with this prophecy you find no trace or shadow of art for worship in all the apostolic literature. Aaron's visible priesthood on earth gives place to the invisible High-priesthood after the order of Melchizedek in Heaven. The purely spiritual breaks through the nebula of the symbolical.


Now of both these arts it is to be stated that, before the days of Calvinism, they soared high above the common life of the Nations, and that only under the Calvinistic influence did they descend to the so much richer life of the people. As regards painting, just recall the productions of Dutch art by brush and etching-needle in the 16th and 17th centuries. Rembrandt's name alone is here sufficient to summon a whole world of art-treasures before your mind's eye. The museums of every country and continent still vie with each other, to the utmost, in their effort to obtain some specimen of his work. Even your brokers have respect for an art-school whose returns represent so vast a capital. And even in our days the masters all over the world are still borrowing their most effectual motives and their best art-tendencies from what, at that time, demanded the world's admiration as an entirely new school of painting. Of course this does not say that all these painters were personally staunch Calvinists. In the earlier art-school, which flourished under the influence of Rome, the “bon Catholiques ”were also very rare. Such influences do not operate personally, but put their impress upon surroundings and society, upon the world of perceptions, of representations and of thought; and as a result of these various impressions an art-school makes its appearance. And, taken in this sense, the antithesis between the past and the present in the school of Dutch art is unmistakable. Before this period, no account was taken of the people; they only were considered worthy of notice who were superior to the common man, viz., the high world of the Church and of the priests, of knights and princes. But, since then, the people had come of age, and under the auspices of Calvinism, the art of painting, prophetic of a democratic life of later times, was the first to proclaim the people's maturity. The family ceased to be an annex to the Church, and asserted its standing in its independent significance. By the light of common grace it was seen that the non-churchly life was also possessed of high importance and of an all-sided art-motive. Having been overshadowed for many centuries by class-distinctions, the common life of man came out of its hiding-place like a new world, in all its sober reality. It was the broad emancipation of our ordinary earthly life, and the instinct for liberty, which thereby captured the heart of the nations and inspired them with delight in the enjoyment of treasures so long blindly neglected.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Who said:

Those who seek in scholarship nothing more than an
honoured occupation with which to beguile the tedium
of idleness I would compare to those who pass their
lives looking at paintings.

Friday, October 27, 2006
What Christian Culture Looks Like - Part IX

My younger daugher is working on a school project on an historical person from the Colonial/Revolutionary period. I suggested Paul Revere who not only was a war hero but a great craftsman/artist.

Revere's father was a Huguenot and silversmith. Even if Paul Revere had never made his "famous ride", he would still be important to American history. He is one of the greatest American silversmiths and was an innovator in the foundry industry.

Thursday, October 26, 2006
I came across an idea in an article the other day which refered to boiling down an idea to its "haiku level". I kind of like that.

So what is Christian culture "boiled down to the haiku level"...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Alan Jacobs whos insightful A Visit to Vanity Fair is a wonderful expose of contemporary culture, turns his insightful eye to examine the iPod. (It is part of a review of The Perfect Thing - the book of the week at Books & Culture.)

An excerpt:

This little electronic gadget, like a pocket-sized Freudian analyst, has somehow revealed—worse, allowed me to reveal—my inauthenticity, as though its famously fingerprint-attracting polished metal back had lifted itself before my appalled face and cried, Behold!

Monday, October 23, 2006
Skillen on Culture
Bill Edgar recently hosted a conference at Westminster Seminary on for his Gospel and Culture Project titled "Biblical Matters: Biblical Reflections on ‘Going Global’" One of the speakers was James Skillen, who made the following observation:

Recent Christian youth movements have issued a call to “redeem the culture.” As well-intentioned as this is, it is not really the call of Christ. It is not us redeeming culture and then offering it up to Christ as our gift to him, but rather our recognition that we are but servants of the Christ who judges and who himself redeems, not just our culture, but every culture of the world. We serve his kingdom, wherever we do so, as humble, repentant sinners, people who live out of deep gratitude. There is no shortcut to the redemption of all things. No political party, no economic plan, can bring it about. Neither is there a shortcut to global Christian unity. We must see ourselves neither as Americans first nor as anti-American, but rather first always as Christ’s disciples, ambassadors to all the world.

I agree with Skillen up to a point. We need to avoid provicialism of all forms as we approach culture-making. Our ultimate allegiance is to Christ. We also need to see that culture is a global mission. The is the upshot of Genesis 1:28ff. We fill the earth and we rule and develop the whole of it.

But do we really have a problem of being too focused on national matters? Are we focussed too much on American cultural ideas? Maybe so. Our vision can be too limited. But the antidote to the problem of nationalism is not globalism. Rather we need to focus on local development. We need to meet the needs of those who are in our immediate community - whereever in the world that might be. If we establish Christian culture in the local scene, we can expect the spillover to bless the nation and even the world.

Friday, October 20, 2006
Better Now
The Native Tourist was feeling pretty sick this week. But now he is feeling much better.

I should be up to blogging soon...

Friday, October 13, 2006
...as in "let them live in cake."

This little tidbit from the NYT review of Marie Antoinette got me thinking:

No mere backdrop, Versailles, where much of “Marie Antoinette” was shot, is the film’s subject and, in some respects, its star. Like Hollywood — which it resembles in some interesting and hardly accidental particulars — Versailles is a place with an aura and a power of its own, with an almost mystical ability to warp the lives of those who, by accident or choice, come to dwell on its grounds.

If this really is the undertheme of this movie - that decadant architecture/environment leads to a decadant lifestyle - then this is a message of which we all need to be keenly aware. Our cultural environment is shaping us. Whatever we choose to rub elbows with (and we DO have choice in most things) is going to have an effect on our thinking and values and even our beliefs. Which may be a reason to skip seeing Marie Antoinette.

We at least need to think about. We must be deliberate.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Art Lecture
I did something I haven't done in a long time: I went to an art lecture at George Fox University, which is located a couple of blocks from our home. The artist was one of the faculty members: Tim Timmerman. (He also has a show where I work in Salem.)

At first, I wasn't crazy about his works. But hear him talk about his process and his symbols and his sources, I came to appreciate what he was trying to do. I think I like his more finished works better.

One thing I realized: when one works with very personal symbols (as Timmerman does), one opens oneself to have their art works misunderstood. The same happens in poetry. I guess the question is whether this is a problem...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006
The Same Goes for Christian Art and Christian Culture in General

"But it is impossible to make a good omelet with rotten eggs. If staff members of a Christian school are not walking in fellowship with God, then they cannot be in fellowship with one another. If we walk in the light, John says, we have fellowship with one another (1 John 1:7). If the people working in the school are under the chastening hand of God, then it does not matter how many education conferences they go to. It does not matter how intelligent they are. It does not matter how many books they read. It does not matter that they adopted a classical Christian curriculum. The whole thing stinks. The enterprise is comparable to insisting on rotten eggs as ingredients and then determining to make the omelet good by improving the kitchen, firing the cook, or changing the recipe. Refusal to deal with sin is folly, pure and simple"

--Doug Wilson, The Case for Classical Christian Education, p. 175

taken from Doug's blog

Friday, October 06, 2006
I recently stumbled over a unique, hand-built ediface called the Ecokathedraal which, in case you couldn't already tell in located in the Netherlands.

I'm not sure what it is entirely about, but it is a beautiful structure. (I guess I can read more about it here.) I really admire stone walls and brick work, and the way this is pieced togather with various subtle color variations and textures - and apparently no mortar.

I am currently landscaping our backyard, including some brick paths I have laid out, so I find this very inspiring!

Thursday, October 05, 2006
Another Cool Thing about Oregon
are its microbreweries!

Nothing to Sneeze at
Did Anyone Tell You thatits Archives Week?

It is in Oregon, and I suspect it is elsewhere too.

Just thought you wanted to know.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Monday, October 02, 2006
A Little Bit More than a Square Inch

and counting...

(HT: Gideon Strauss)