The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Tuesday, July 31, 2007
of the "Redemptive Culture: Creating the World That Ought To Be" conference that IAM NY sponsored last February are now available. You an upload a copy of my talk "What Does 'Redeeming Culture' Mean?" for $3. I really recommend the two talks by Jeremy Begbie that were particularly excellent and encouraging (he even played excerps of several musical pieces on the piano to illustrate his point).

Monday, July 30, 2007
Cities of God Conference
sponsored by the John Jay Institute in Colorado Springs. Looks really promising. Here is a desription:

At one time Western religious belief and city building coincided. Informed by the Bible’s grand story from Genesis to Revelation, the idea of human culture as a development from seminal life in the Garden of Eden to full human flourishing in the City of God inspired the Christians to take city building seriously. Traditional western urbanism is a fruit of Christian civilization. Europe and North America’s most beautiful and early cities – places like Paris, London, Philadelphia, Annapolis, Charleston, Savannah, and Santa Barbara -- were in origin and consequence products of the Christian worldview, resulting in neighborhood designs in the form of street and block networks, plazas and squares, and monuments and civic buildings of stone and brick. Building upon and developing the received wisdom and insight from the ancients, Christian city builders endeavored to successfully integrate ecological, economic, moral, and formal orders to produce beautiful cities that we continue to enjoy today. What of tomorrow? Is the good city still possible? Have secularism, modernity, the automobile, therapeutic individualism, racial and class antagonism, and suburban sprawl made the restoration of the good city elusive, if not impossible? What about contemporary development and building culture? Can public officials, legislators, planners, traffic engineers, bankers, developers, and the homebuilding industry be persuaded to re-integrate traditional principles of city building into their professional work? And what role might Christians have to play in such a reintegration? This lecture series will explore biblical and theological themes specifically related to the building of neighborhoods, towns, and cities. Additionally, two historical case studies of American Christian city building – 17th Century Philadelphia and 19th Century Colorado Springs – will be examined for their practical lessons for today. Lastly, the series will present on an array of topics relevant to the ideas and strategies of the neo-traditionalist movement known as New Urbanism.

The first lecture will be by Ken Meyers: "Between the Garden and the New Jerusalem: a Trinitarian Vision for Urban Blessedness"

Modern societies are increasingly imperiled by diminished levels of civic commitment. As cultural and legal trends encourage more pervasive patterns of individualism and privatization, many citizens have a sense of being independent consumers of social goods and services rather than members of a body politic. Sacrificial commitment to the common good becomes more problematic when there is no notion of "the good" held in common by an increasingly diverse population. The lack of civic commitment is especially felt in America's heartland towns and cities. Once the local laboratories of political participation and incubators of republican virtues, today they increasingly call into question the sustainability of the American experiment. The precipitating crisis of the town soul presents an opportunity for Christians to re-examine their understanding of the nature and norms of civic life, as the love of neighbors requires caring for our neighborhoods. Since Christians believe that human beings are created in the image of a triune God, and thereby created for relationships, the Church must resist the temptations toward individualism and offer to its neighbors and neighborhoods an example of the meanings of membership and the contours of community. In this lecture Mr. Myers offers a survey of the biblical themes integral to a theology of urban blessedness, from the earliest experience of human community in the Garden of Eden to the full flourishing of eschatological urban dynamism in the New Jerusalem, providing practical implications for contemporary Christians living in America's cities and towns.

Friday, July 27, 2007
=number of people who admit to checking on their email while in church.


Thursday, July 26, 2007
isn't always tidy and neat.

A case in point is this unique (at least to me) calligraphy by Betsy Dunlap. It verges on the chaotic and unkempt, but is has a charming sense of whimsy, dance and flow as well.

(I found her stuff at the Design*Sponge blog)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Wondering How to Slow the Spread of Islam?
Lob in a few pop culture bombs. That should do the trick...

(Picture is from Dubai)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Nice quote from Ellul (HT: Doug Wilson):

"Thus the Lord himself is going to substitute his work for man's, and he will build lasting cities, different cities, the true cities of Judah, cities which will be under another sign and controlled by a power other than Cain's" (Ellul, The Meaning of the City, p. 27).

Its worth adding that these redeemed cities will be the work of redeemed people who will be doing God's work empowed by the Holy Spirit. This in part is what redemption is for.

I will have to take another look at Ellul's book sometime. I read the opening chapters when I was writing Plowing and found it pretty bleak...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Getting at the underlying motives (i.e. worldview) of art is what art history is all about:

The discourse [on Renaissanc art] exemplified by Beck, Hartt, and others like them employs a methodology of stylistic analysis for which a detached objectivity has been tacitly claimed. It has, however, also been driven by humanist assumptions about Renaissance art and culture. Admired as the fountainhead from which modernity springs, Renaissance art is seen as manifesting the best of human endeavor when first liberated from the grip of medieval religion. It is at once more rational and less mystical, because no longer corrupted by the hocus pocus of religious superstition. It is not difficult, therefore, to see how and why a Marxist critique has exposed the alleged objectivity of stylistic analysis masking ideological agendas. After all, who—other than privileged white males and their decadent offspring—has either the time or money to bother themselves with the study of form and the contemplation of beauty? Besides, it takes but a second look to realize that such art was inevitably determined in myriad ways by its context—social, economic, political and religious alike. Thus, over the last decades, revisionist art historians have been looking more closely at the context, function, and meaning of art—in process often downplaying formal analysis and matters of style, but ideally integrating these concerns with the newer ones.

--from a book review by John Walford that appeared in Books & Culture

Friday, July 13, 2007
Big Black Frames
I just saw this article on painter/sculptor Neil Jenny who makes works about ideas - conceptual in many respects - yet still has a real sense of craft. One of the most interesting aspects of his works are the black frames which he makes himself. In fact he prefers to think of his works as sculture rather than paitings.

They are very reminiscent of the black frames often used to display 17th century Dutch paintings.

(Well they weren't always black...)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Generational Observation

One of the things they did right as parents was that they gave a lot of positive reinforcement to their kids. What they did wrong is they reinforced everything, any behaviors whatsoever, in the hopes that it would improve the kid's self-esteem, so that the kids would be better off than their parents were. But kids really want limits and structure, something these parents in many cases weren't giving them. They were pretty much letting the kids select their own structure. If the kids were on the computer, well that was just fine with the parents because the kids were in their room quiet and not bothering them when they needed to work in the other room or get dinner ready, if they ate dinner together.

--from interview with Larry Rosen on what he calls the Net Generation

Friday, July 06, 2007
Home Brew
Another kewl thing about my home state is its "craft brew" heritage. Lots of tasty and unique beers are made here. My favorite is McMenamin's Terminator Stout.

I also pass several hop farms on my way to work every morning with their elaborate suspension systems.

Thursday, July 05, 2007
I found this photo documentation of a group of paintings by Mako Fujimura in a new corporate headquarters near Kansas City. Gives a nice sense of the scale and tactile nature of Mako's work.

Monday, July 02, 2007
Dutch Art in Portland I
I went for another visit to the Rembrandt and Golden Age of Dutch Art at the Portland Art Museum last Friday evening.

One of the objects that caught my eye the first time and still marvelled at was a pair of portait ivories less that five inches high. They are attributed to Rombout Verhulst and are of exquisite detail and workmanship.

Curiously, both featured an unique position with the fingers which is still a mystery to its meaning.

Maybe the artist was thinking of Kuyper's "not one inch..."