The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Friday, December 29, 2006
Fast Times
From an article by Andy Crouch on his Christian Vision Project site:

Frederica and her family fast twice a week, a practice that goes back to the earliest Christian centuries and an ancient discipleship manual called the Didache. Along with Orthodox Christians around the world, the Mathewes-Greens observe this fast every Wednesday and Friday. It's not total abstinence from all food, but rather avoidance of foods that come from animals, whether meat, eggs, or dairy products—what we now would call a vegan diet.

Long before anyone invented the word vegan, Christians called this diet the "Daniel fast"—because it essentially replicates the diet Daniel and his friends adopted upon arrival in Babylon. The Christian version of the Daniel fast does not require us to abstain permanently from meat, Frederica pointed out. But it is a twice-weekly reminder that we are in exile and that our use of animals for food is itself tainted with echoes of the Fall. The Daniel fast is not just a discipline to develop self-control and dependence on God; it is a reminder that the abundance we enjoy cannot, in this life, be entirely separated from the alienation we endure from God and from God's creatures. It is a small act of reorientation, a small act of exilic consciousness in the middle of every week.

I'm not sure about having an "exilic" consciousness, but the idea of the Daniel Fast is intreguing. Anything that promotes deliberate living and self-consciously resisting the pull of anti-Christian culture that surrounds us is worth considering.

Thursday, December 28, 2006
Real Art History

Here and there, I am sure, you would find art history pursued as outlined above: as an educational endeavor concerned with genuine scholarship, an adventure in seeing, a collaboration that aimed above all at facilitating the direct encounter with important works of art. I want to stress this disclaimer. I do not say “I am sure” in the deflationary sense, meaning “perhaps, but probably not.” I mean it rather in an affirmative, a declarative sense. I can instantly think of several art historians and curators who are deeply engaged with the aesthetic substance of art. I mention several such figures in the course of this book: critics and historians and connoisseurs who like art, who delight in looking, and who seek to communicate this passion and delight. But that’s the end of the good news. Because the dominant trend—the drift that receives the limelight, the prizes, the honors, the academic adulation—is decidedly elsewhere. Yes, there are dissenting voices. But the study of art history today is more and more about displacing art, subordinating it to “theory,” to politics, to the critic’s autobiography, to just about anything that allows one to dispense with the burden of experiencing art natively, on its own terms.

--from the introduction to The Rape of the Masters by Roger Kimball

Tuesday, December 26, 2006
IAM Conference

Details on the conference I will be participating in February in NYC. I will be speaking on "What does "Redeeming Culture" mean?"

Maybe I will see some of you there?

Thursday, December 21, 2006
Stuck in the Mud
Bog actually.

Story on an 8th Century Psalter found in an Irish bog recently. A wonderful reminder that God's providence included his preserving things as well!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Pretty Much my Position

In other words, amillennialists do not expect Christian cultural influence to progressively dominate the world, but as the arguments and behavior of some of their best contemporary theologians show they also do not expect Christians to be culturally marginal all the time. In the more robust forms of their view they have a significant place for Christians in culture, and I don’t see that it would take them far afield of their amillenialism if they imagined that a whole bunch of Christians doing some really serious cultural work would achieve at some point a sort of “critical mass” and bring about a real live Christian culture. This is enough, it seems to me, to allow an amillennialist to coherently hold the same basic positive cultural vision as the postmillennialist. The amil / postmil divide in terms of long-term cultural expectations need not, it seems to me, prevent them merely working together to form a stable, visible, significantly-impactive Christian culture.

--quote found on Tim Enloe's blog

Its time for Post-Millenialists to admit that its the hardcore Kuyperians - who are almost entirely amillenial - who have done a great deal (the most?) to promote and establish Christian culture in the last 100 years.

Monday, December 18, 2006
X Factor
I think I have just figured out what is wrong with the way we celebrate Christmas in the US. It can be summed up in one word.


Friday, December 15, 2006

"If you make a mistake in steel, you make a mistake that lasts a long time."

--blacksmith interviewed on Oregon Art Beat last night (local public television)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006
This article in the New York Times reminded me of how nice hand set letterpress printed books and broadsheets can be. To be able to run my hand over the paper and feel the indentations where the letters were impressed into the sheet is a wonderful pleasure. And the letters themselves can be so crisp.

Reminds me of the book arts major at the Oregon College of Art and Craft which isn't too far from where I live.

Maybe a second career after retirement...in addition writing more books!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Monday, December 11, 2006
Friday, December 08, 2006
"All the Rest Are Bores"
Here is a wonderful quote a came across from C.S. Lewis describing his view of literature before he became a Christian:

All the books were beginning to turn against me. Indeed, I must have been as blind as a bat not to have seen, long before, the ludicrous contradiction between my theory of life and my actual experiences as a reader. George MacDonald had done more to me than any other writer; of course it was a pity he had that bee in his bonnet about Christianity. He was good in spite of it. Chesterton had more sense than all the other moderns put together; bating, of course, his Christianity. Johnson was one of the few authors whom I felt I could trust utterly; curiously enough, he had the same kink. Spenser and Milton by a strange coincidence had it too. Even among ancient authors the same paradox was to be found. The most religious (Plato, Aeschylus, Virgil) were clearly those on whom I could really feed. On the other hand, those writers who did not suffer from religion and with whom in theory my sympathy ought to have been complete -- Shaw and Wells and Mill and Gibbon and Voltaire -- all seemed a little thin; what as boys we called "tinny". It wasn't that I didn't like them. They were all (especially Gibbon) entertaining; but hardly more. There seemed to be no depth in them. They were too simple. The roughness and density of life did not appear in their books.

Now that I was reading more English, the paradox began to be aggravated. I was deeply moved by the Dream of the Rood; more deeply still by Langland; intoxicated (for a time) by Donne; deeply and lastingly satisfied by Thomas Browne. But the most alarming of all was George Herbert. Here was a man who seemed to me to excel all the authors I had ever read in conveying the very quality of life as we actually live it from moment to moment; but the wretched fellow, instead of doing it all directly, insisted on mediating it through what I would still have called "the Christian mythology". On the other hand most of the authors who might be claimed as precursors of modern enlightenment seemed to me very small beer and bored me cruelly. I thought Bacon (to speak frankly) a solemn, pretentious ass, yawned my way through Restoration Comedy, and, having manfully struggled on to the last line of Don Juan, wrote on the end-leaf "Never again". The only non-Christians who seemed to me really to know anything were the Romantics; and a good many of them were dangerously tinged with something like religion, even at times with Christianity. The upshot of it all could nearly be expressed in a perversion of Roland's great line in the Chanson --

Christians are wrong, but all the rest are bores.


Isn't it wonderful how God used the vitality of Christian culture as a part of mix of providences that brought Lewis to the faith?!

Pray that this vitality will return to the Covenant community.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Lecture at PSU
Went to a lecture by "landscape" (non-representational) painter James Lavadour last night. He is one of my favorite Oregon artists.

More about himhere and here.

I guess you can add him to the list of non-representative painters I admire (see discussion below).

Monday, December 04, 2006
Real van Rijn
I have posted a bunch of times this past year about Rembrandt, who has had his 400th birthday celebrated by huge number (more than a hundred!) exhibitions and symposia this year.

I also am intregued by the issues of authenticity and "found" art works. How important is it that an artwork is actually made by a certain individual? This issue is a really big deal (think: fraud) in the business world. But in the end does it really matter, as long as an art is ultimately recognized for its excellence?

For example, the so-called Polish Rider in the Frick Museum is doubted by the majority of art experts to be painted by Rembrandt. It is nevertheless a great painting.

Recently, two articles have could my attention on this issue (and on Rembrandt in particular) that are worth a look:

from the New York Times

from the Independant

Friday, December 01, 2006
Selling Out?
From the New York Times review of Nativity Story:

The challenge in producing a movie like this is to find enough conventional movie elements — suspense, realistic characters, convincing dialogue — without selling out the scriptural source. How do you make piety entertaining without seeming impious? A certain degree of kitsch is inevitable, and perhaps even desirable.

Obviously we have to really, really careful that we don't have too much truth in our movies...