The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Tuesday, May 29, 2007
The Heart of Missions
I don't agree with his "inclusivist" position in regards to the need for faith in Jesus Christ, but John Stackhouse flat out nails it when he says:

God is not interested in saving merely human souls. He wants human beings, body and soul. Furthermore, he does not settle for saving human beings, but the whole earth. He made it in the first place, pronounced it "very good," and he wants it all back. So he is saving us, the lords he put over creation, as part of his global agenda to rescue, indeed, the globe.

What God rescues us to, furthermore, is the original agenda he set out for us in Genesis 1, namely, to "fill the earth and subdue it." He planted a garden for us to tend (Gen. 2) and commanded our first parents to raise up generations of gardeners to fan out across the earth to till the rest of it. This is what it means to bear the image of God. We, too, are to improve the situation, to cultivate what we encounter, to make shalom in every sector of life. And such work is our ultimate destiny as well, as we are to "reign with him" over the new earth he promises (2 Tim. 2:12). Thus we are not going back to Eden, nor up to a (spiritual) heaven, but forward to the New Jerusalem, which comes down from heaven to earth as our proper home (Rev. 21).

(from CT website)

Friday, May 25, 2007
Conference Follow-up
The So Let your Light Shine: A Defense of Christian Culture conference heald by the Highlands Study Center in SW Virginia is now over. You can read fairly detailed summaries/transcriptions of the the sessions on this blog. (Thanks for the effort!)

There is a lot here to chew on.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Historical Slander
Been reading some old Credenda Agendas lately, and this caught my eye from Aaron Rench:

"Of course, we are familiar with the slander known as the "Dark Ages," and we know that the phrase is just a euphemism for the idea that the church kills progress and culture. And whenever a medieval achievement is too wonderful to be suppressed or hidden any longer, modern historians have developed a mathematical formula, commonly called scholarly research, which can show how it actually had a secular origin and was part of a defiant revolution against all organized religion."

Monday, May 21, 2007
More Summer Reading on Architecture
Comment magazine has been running a series of articles on suggested summer reading on various topics from a Christian perspective. The list on architecture/city planning books by Eric Jacobsen (author of Sidewalks in the Kingdom) caught my eye.

Jacobsens list is heavily weighted in favor of New Urbanism which is his interest. NU has a lot going for it, but is has some serious limitations as well.

I would like to add some additional titles to his list:

Learning from Las Vegas, the Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown has a quirky take on strip mall architecture (read more here)

Sprawl: A Compact History by Robert Bruegmann who argues that urban sprawl may not be as bad as we think it is.


Last Harvest: How a Cornfield Became New Daleville: Real Estate Development in America from George Washington to the Builders of the Twenty-first Century, and Why We Live in Houses Anyway by Witold Rybczynski

Thursday, May 17, 2007
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Falwell's Legacy
Now that Jerry Falwell is in glory, it is worth taking stock of his impact on Christian culture. His legacy is mixed.

One huge positive was the way he encouraged conservative Christians to get involved in the public square. Its hard to remember just how insular fundamentalist/conservative evangelical Christians were before the Moral Majority. Granted, the kind of influence Falwell encouraged was nearly entirely in the political arena or decrying the bashing of Christianity in the media, but at least this got Christians out of their cocoon.

Unfortunately (and this is the negative), many Christians influenced by Falwell (add Pat Robertson and James Dobson to the mix) came to see cultural involvement as political involvement, and failed to see that culture is way, way more than politics. In short, Falwell encouraged the culture-war paradigm which is helpful and appropriate as far as it goes. But we need an even bigger picture.

This is why I promote the biblical teaching on the protology of culture - to see our cultural calling from a pre-fall perspective. And to see where culture is going - culture from eschatological perspective. Looking at culture this way we see it for all its full-orbed glory and something that is being renewed as part of redemptive history.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Words that Burn
I have to find time to ready Philip Jenkins writings on the changing shape/location of Christendom on planet earth.

These changes should have huge cultural implications. That is, the shape of Christian culture will change! Maybe this will be the opportunity to shake off the deleterious effects of Hellenism which has impeded the development of a pure Christian culture.

This review of Jenkins latest book in CT highlights the "new" Christendom's attitude toward scripture, which, if accurate, heralds great things to come!

To understand this approach to the Bible, Jenkins informs us of the ways in which the Scriptures, freshly translated, have been received into Asian and African societies. In many of these realms, people already were familiar with the idea of sacred texts, so the Bible was given special status from the start. In the hands of newly literate people, the power of biblical words has been explosive. Northerners need to recall the electrifying force in Reformation days of common-language Scriptures, made available to new readers. "It burns!" exclaimed one of the Puritan preachers about the Bible, and so it does today for Nigerians and Indians and Chinese.

Mystery Poet Revealed
It wasn't really all that hard to find out with Google.

The poet is Geerhardus Vos.

Thursday, May 10, 2007
Art with Fizz
You probably know that Andy Warhol is one of the leading figures of Pop Art. But you probably didn't think of his art like this.


Of course a picture like this deserves some context.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Mystery Poet

Who wrote this poem?

Love-land is Canaan’s land, fair open vales extending,
The star-near hilltops round baptized in limpid light;
Alas, the loveliest road, Southward to Zion bending,
Ends at an inmost shrine withdrawn from lover’s sight.

I'll post the answer in a couple of days...

Friday, May 04, 2007
Metaphor of the Day

Other biographers have placed Bach as a synthesizer of various national styles, the cul-de-sac of Reformation music, or the artistic antipode of that other great figure of the age, Isaac Newton. Geck’s Bach, and in particular the Bach of the late instrumental works, is instead the conduit through which the primarily text-based aesthetic of the Baroque is transferred to the motive-based music of later centuries. Thus Bach not only becomes the culmination of the music of his predecessors but also the source for the compositional aesthetic of composers all the way down to Mahler (and perhaps even later). This is an original insight-or at least an original way of putting the matter-and I suspect it will prove to be foundational for future views of the composer.

--from a review of Johann Sebastian Bach: Life and Work, by Martin Geck in First Things

Bach is surely one the key people to study in coming to terms to what it means to practice art as a Christian.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Thinking about Art Education
The article on the Aristides Atelier from Seattle's alternative newspaper The Stranger is very intreguing. A throwback to earlier times when artists learned their craft from a master in a workshop. This method was expecially in place during the Dutch Golden Age. Its hard to say exactly how much the Atelier really mimics the guild/workshop model or the Academy model which is slightly different. But both are hugely different from the way most colleges/universities train artists - which is based on the training methods of the Bauhaus.

One thing is clear: we need to really think through how we train Christian artists. What we have today at Christian Colleges essentially copies/baptizes what is happening at the secular institutions. Embedded in this system are an array of assumptions about the role of the artist, the nature of art, and, ultimately, the nature of truth and education.

Maybe someday I will have the time to think through this stuff, talk it over with some other Christian artists and come up with some sort of white paper or something.