The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Noli me Tangere

"We want to be friendly and positive but we're encouraging people to think before they touch, as touching art has consequences."

--Conservator at the new outdoor Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle

Tuesday, January 30, 2007
The Wright Stuff?

This article one on Frank Lloyd Wright's Usonian homes in the Seattle area caught my eye. There was a similar type house in Oberlin, where I attended grad school.

The article takes pains to point out this these houses were intended by Wright to be affordable for people of modest means (total area: 1600 sq ft). This might have been true in the 50s, but to try and even attempt such craft and detailing in a house today would be outragiously expensive. Yet is rises so far above the recently built trophy houses that I have seen let alone the typical tract home.

Reminds me of the Susanka Not so Big House approach.

I wonder how much the houses in her book end up costing?

Friday, January 26, 2007
Art in the Movies
Seems like there are a lot of documentaries coming out lately on the arts. Here is a New York Times article on an intreguing documentary on a young girl "genius" artist “My Kid Could Paint That".

Add this to documentary on a thrift-shop Pollock painting I have mentioned before and this documentary on Agnes Martin, on of my favorite non-figurative painters.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Wanted: Four Good Christian Culture-Makers
(Follow-up from yesterdays post)

Reading through the Crouch interview (see below) this paragraph really caught my eye:

The second thing is that cultural change almost always starts small. And that’s true whether you’re talking about the culture of your local elementary school or a feature film that grosses 200 million dollars. Jesus created culture with three core friends, twelve disciples and a larger following of about a hundred twenty people. The number of people who can fit comfortably in a Volkswagen Beetle can mobilize a slightly bigger group who can in turn mobilize more than a hundred folks. That’s how a cultural good is created. It’s true of the world’s largest corporations, the smallest business or the corner store down the road. So, the question to ask is, “Which group of three people has God put me with and what can we make together that will add something to culture that will reflect what God wants for culture — God’s shalom, his peace?” And that’s the only way it ever changes — when a small group of people create something.

Monday, January 22, 2007
In the Making
Nice interview with Andy Crouch "Being Culture-Makers" is worth the read.

Thanks to Stephen for the heads up on this (see comment on Jan 17 entry below).

Friday, January 19, 2007
More to Think about

Wednesday, January 17, 2007
A New Ad Campaign?

Here something I have been toying with:

What do you think? Should it say "Think Christian" or "Thinking transformed"?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Long Joy
I think I may have said it before. Maybe not. At any rate, I think that Alan Jacobs is one of the best Christian cultural critics alive today. He is also a fine essayist. Here is an exerpt from his latest installment at Books and Culture:

It seems to me that this politics of long joy is the one thing needful for the Christian cultural critic, as for a warring angel like Abdiel or a poetic polemicist like Milton. Perhaps the chief problem with the "culture wars" paradigm that governs so much Christian action and reflection, in the North American context anyway, is that it encourages us to think in terms of trophies rather than testimonies. It tempts us to think too much about whether we're winning or losing, and too little about the only thing we ultimately control, which is the firmness of our own resolve. If the culture warrior would prefer not to be governed by Stanley Fish, or even by John Milton, maybe Koheleth provides an acceptable model: "In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good" (Ecclesiastes 11:6).

It seems to me that the careful dance, the difficult balance, of Christian cultural criticism is to be endlessly attentive to the form and the details of the world around us, while simultaneously practicing the "politics of long joy"—and in this way avoiding an unhealthy obsession with "trophies," and avoiding also being conformed to the ways of this world. It's a tough walk to walk, because one of the peculiarities of fallen human nature is that we find it difficult, over the long haul anyway, to remember that there is a world of difference between "I have no control over this" and "this isn't very important." We tend, against all reason, to diminish the importance of everything we cannot shape or direct. But our joy will be short if it is grounded in circumstances and events, because circumstances and events always change: if they please us now, they will displease us later. And then what will we do?

The whole "culture wars" thing is to be avoided. Better to keep busy with the actual making of culture, than griping about the current state of affairs.

Thursday, January 11, 2007
Evidence for Post-Millenialism?

Headline: Spam Rates Take 30% Dive

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Headline: Inventor of instant noodles dies at 96

I can still vividly remember my first encounter with Ramen noodles. It was in Pittsburgh around 1979. One of my housemates was Chinese-American and showed me some packets which he cooked up in a couple of minutes.

I was hooked. I got him to order a case of them through his Dad. Back then they were a specialty item.

Not now.

My kids love them. And they're cheap.

Friday, January 05, 2007
Cultural Strategy
I saw an announcement at the Center for Cultural Leadership site for The Issachar Project conference to be heald next weekend in LA.

Its interesting to contrast the CCL approach with the approach taken by the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival (& Academy) sponsored by Vision Forum.

The CCL/Issachar emphasis is to try infiltrate Hollywood and influence the mainstream film industry:

We believe that the categories of Enlightenment modernity have been successfully identified as philosophically inadequate, ultimately unbiblical, and no longer applicable to our postmodern culture. The world of arts and entertainment now lead as the most influential force of human culture. We think Christianity should lead that force.

The San Antonio emphasis is on training and encouraging Christians to bypass Hollywood and create independant films which will (hopefully) be free of theological compromise:

This is a wonderful time to be a Christian engaged in the arts. The enormous leadership vacuum within our culture has opened a world of opportunity for a new generation of maverick Christians to challenge the status quo presented by Hollywood. More than ever before in the recent history of our nation, we have access to the tools for waging a new form of cultural guerilla warfare.

I tend to favor the latter approach. While it might be possible (like Mel Gibson) to have the financial resources and chutzpah to make large scale films at the periphery of Hollywood (I would call his approach quasi-independant), I would seriously doubt that Christians - accept in very large numbers - could have much impact. It would be like trying to change the direction of supertanker with a bunch of small boats with outboard motors. Even hundreds of such boats would have a tiny impact.

Speaking of indpendant Christian media - has anyone seen Doug Jones Sourdoughs DVD?

Thursday, January 04, 2007
Anyone committed to Christian culture, especially from the Reformed tradition is no doubt aware of Abraham Kuyper's famous words:

"There is not a square inch
in the whole domain of our human existence
over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all,
does not cry: 'Mine!'"

I was thinking this morning, of the other way that Kuyper's words could be taken: "Mine" could be taken as verb, rather than as a pronoun. It could be taken as a clarion call to develop every bit of creation - to dig down deep and ferret out all its buried potential - to the Creator's glory.

This is not what Kuyper meant. But its a pretty cool idea.