The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Monday, January 28, 2008
Frederica Mathewes-Green is lecturing two blocks from my house tonight and tomorrow night at George Fox University.

Part of a lecture series that included Craig Detweiler and Paul Marshall of Heaven is not my Home fame.

Friday, January 25, 2008
Just Say No! to Hyphens
Richard M Gamble reviews D.G. Hart's Secular Faith and summarizes his take in part the way:

Hart's argument stands on the refreshingly countercultural premise that Jesus and the apostles founded Christianity to be an otherworldly, apolitical, and unavoidably divisive faith practiced largely in private by adherents who live "hyphenated" lives as citizens of two cities. Hart sees these attributes as normative for the Christian life.


While I agree the Christian faith is certainly devisive, even polarizing (can someone say antithesis?), our faith NOT otherworldly or apolitical.

Christianity is decidedly THISworldly - that is to say the next world IS the world we are now living in. There is a profound continuity. Likewise, I would say that Christianity is not apolitical but transpolicial. Christianity involves the political sphere and everything else in creation - church, culture, family, the academy, etc. The Bible has much to say about political/governmental matters even if it doesn't offer a "blueprint". To stick with this metaphor, purhaps it is best to say that Christianity offers a "building program" - an outline or set of contours to direct us in politics and the rest of life.

Christians should be anything but hyphenated. Our cultural calling isn't an add-on. Its completely integral to our faith and who we are.

Thursday, January 24, 2008
The Ceiling Turns 500
This newspaper article discusses the creation of Michelangelo's Sistine chapel ceiling, which be began five centuries ago (it was a long project). The author does a good job pointing out the mysteries of just how the artist actually planned this monumental work. This especially is true if, as recent scholarship proposes, many of the "working" drawings for the ceiling are fact copies of finished ceiling.

I was fortunate to have as an undergraduate an entire course on Michelangelo taught by David Summers who is a leading authority on the artist. It was an amazing course. Although I don't favor the ceiling's blatant breaking of the fourth commandment, it is a great aesthetic achievement nontheless. Surely Michelangelo is greatest artist who ever lived.

At the bottom of the article the author gets into the question of assistants helping, or some cases, primarily making works of art. This is a vexing question. I have thought about putting together an essay exploring this practice viz. the artistic production of everyone's favorite wipping boy - Thomas Kinkade.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Kuyperian vs. TKV Discussion
Russ Reeves wrote a really good pro-Christian culture response to this recent anti-Kuperian post on Heidelblog.

The discussion continues (briefly, so far) here.

Worth a read.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008
A Lost Art?
One of the things that should mark Christian culture is Eloquence. John Wilson of Books & Culture discusses this lost virtue. Classical Christian schools are trying to capture this, yet it is somewhat elusive...

Yes, all true, and this is why eloquence is precious. "Eloquence, as distinct from rhetoric, has no aim: it is a play of words or other expressive means. It is a gift to be enjoyed in appreciation and practice." Those earnest folk who scorn frivolity should recognize that their argument is with God himself. He has given us this world, with all its wonders and perplexities.

Friday, January 11, 2008
A Blog for a Friday
Simply Breakfast

Surely one of the great blessings of life is a fine breakfast. (In our house we frequently have breakfast for dinner!)

While we're on the topic of breakfast, its worth mentioning the dutch "breakfast piece" still life form. Here is a link to such a painting by Peter Claesz.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Some copies of the new edition of my book arrived yesterday. What you can't see (below) is the back cover - which has a subtle reference to one of the sidebars I wrote: "The Brussels Sprouts Syndrome".

You read this in its entirely here.

Monday, January 07, 2008
Its Official!

The new edition of Plowing is now out. Only minor edits. But it is still in print after eight years...

In response to a recent situation which came a Calvin College where a professor was dismissed because they would not join the CRC, Russ Reeves remarks that

the life of the renewed Christian mind cannot be separated from the renewing power of the Church as the body of Christ. To require Christian thinking without regard to Christian worship is a peculiarly modern heresy, and if a college is going to adopt a confessional requirement at all, it seems to me essential that some requirements for worship be included as well.

To fill this out a little bit: Calvin College takes this position as a matter of eccliastical authority (rarely enforced), not worship per se. The worship styles and content within the CRC are very diverse, esp. within the churches in the Grand Rapids area.

Still, this is a great summary about why worship, church membership and Christian thinking matter.

Friday, January 04, 2008
Googling for God
Google has recently put out its 2007 Year-End Zeitgeist. Under the category "Mind - Who Is...", "Who is God" ranked 1, "Who is Jesus" ranked 4. ("Who is the devil" came in number ten. "What is love" was first in the "What is..." category.

Now here is a scary thought: what do people find when they do these searches?

(Are they feeling lucky?)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008
While I am waiting for something significant to say, you can check out illustrator John Hendrix blog. He had a show in September.

You can also ponder what Mako Fujimura's new book River Grace might be like.