The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Two Books I'm Looking forward to Reading

Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Larry Norman, R.I.P.
A friend sent me an email that Christian Rock legend Larry Norman died Sunday. My first encounter with Norman's music came when I was a new Christian in the 70s: his song "I Wish we'd All Been Ready" was featured in the goofy apocalyptic movie A Thief in the Night.

I really only listened Larry Norman's music after I got married. He was a bit before my time. But he and the other "Jesus Music" pioneers of the late 60s/early 70s are hugely influential on the present-day church. Just as we owe the present state of cultural involvement to the likes of Francis Schaeffer and Hans Rookmaaker and their influential books, we also owe a large portion of this to the Christian musicians who broke away from frozen, mediocre cultural hegemony of the conservative church in the 60s. They made it much easier for the rest of us.

Larry Norman lived in Salem, Oregon, which is where I work. Maybe it will work out for me to go to his funeral. We'll see.

Monday, February 25, 2008
Top-Down or Bottom-Up?
From an book-review essay in Comment by John Seel"

This strategy stems from a general acceptance that cultural change is top-down and guided by strategically placed gatekeepers. Infiltrating these gatekeeper networks has been one of the overarching objectives of these institutions. . . . Latent evangelical populism has resisted this overt elitism. Charles Colson writes, "I don't believe societies are moved as much by the social elites as they are by changes in the habits of the heart. I think you have to give people, the mass of people, a different vision to live by . . . John Naisbitt said that fads start from the top down, movements from the bottom up."

And yet, the reality-defining institutions of the academy, art, media, and entertainment, which are controlled by economic, social, and cultural elites, shape the "habits of the heart" of any given society. Having once worked for John Naisbitt, I can say with confidence that he was speaking about consumer trends, not cultural dynamics. The achievement of these institutions is to be applauded.

Readers of TNT will know that I largely reject the top-down approach to renewing culture. Working on the local level and on a smaller scale, and working and expanding from there - all the while remaining exclusively and distinctly Christian - is the way to grow a genuinely Christian culture. Compromise and cooperative ventures end up with a diluted product - losing most of its saltiness in the process.

What we need, I think, is a Christian subversive sub-culture and a patient, long-term, outlook. We also need at the same time to actively resist the mind-shaping effects of the dominant culture around us ("be not conformed...") and we celebrate the cultural offerings of the local Christian culture around us...


Not the Hawaiian kind. The mid-life "crisis" kind...

Your's truly turned a half-century old a week ago.

I'd like to blame my lack of posts last week to old age. But this, alas, would be highly untrue.

Thursday, February 14, 2008
Last Tuesday
I went to see the James Lavadour exhibit during lunch at the local art museum. What a treat to have this (albeit small) resource right near where I work!

Lavadour has such a unique way of making his panels: a series of squeegyings, scrapings, transparent layers, irredecent pigments. He really captures something of the open landscape of the American West.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Perpective & Generations
Doug Wilson has been observing the scene in the UK. In the course of his analysis, he makes the following comments worth pondering...

Re: Christian cultural change/transformation:

we have constantly urged "reformation, not revolution," and one godly pastor here put the same need in terms of "evolution, not revolution." Patience and balance are key.

Re: the mutual exasperation between the younger and older generations within the church:

As these two generations of evangelicals talk with each other, there is a basic attitude that should be remembered by all -- those who are coming up through the ranks should cultivate a deep spirit of gratitude. Without the previous work of "unreasonable and intractable conservatives," there would be nothing here to work with. And those older heads who see the newer generation coming up, more filled with beans than wisdom, the sensation should be gratitude as well. The glory of young men is their strength, and the wisdom will come in due course. This is God's way. Each generation should be grateful to the other, and both to God.

I know I need to take this to heart...

Friday, February 08, 2008
Reformed Aesthetic Heritage
I don't usually provide links to Ebay listings - but check this listing on a book on Calvinistic Churches in Hungary. Lots of Pics!

For the most part the spaces celebrate simplicity - with rich carvings in pulpits, ceilings and pews. It also seems that family arms are prominantly featured. I wonder if this is because of an emphasis on covenant succession?

Thursday, February 07, 2008
Educational Opportunities
I recently came across this article about an LDS member who has made his old master print collection available for display as LDS churches in the Denver area.

This has me thinking. Why not do the same thing for and by evangelical Christians. We need to get rank-and-file church members exposed and thinking about the arts - especially examples of well crafted art works. Having a loan collection that can be temporarily displayed at churches, Christain schools, and Christian colleges would do much to increase cultural literacy and appreciation in the Christian community.

Of course this should be limited to visual art. Opportunities for prefessional quality performing art concerts, plays and dance should also be considered.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Jordan Responds
You can read James Jordan's response to my question regarding his view of tools in the garden of Eden here. (Part of the comments to a post by Barb Harvey)

Monday, February 04, 2008
I wonder why James Jordan would propose this:

Musical instruments were not in Eden. No tools were. It is when we graduate from Eden into the world that we use tools to make bread and wine and to play music.

It is when the Kingdom comes that instruments come, and instruments are particularly given as weapons to war against demons. Demons are not allowed near until David has a weapon to drive them away. The demon David drove from Saul is the first demon to appear.

No tools in Eden? How did Adam "work" or "till" the garden (Gen 2:15), with his bare hands?

Friday, February 01, 2008
A couple of weeks ago we visited the Portland Art Museum where I saw a very interesting show on the printmaking of Chuck Close. Often called a photorealist, Close's art is really about process. Many of his monumental prints (some over 7 feed!) were displayed in various sequential states. One silkscreen he did had more than 120 colors. Having done prints in the past - some with as many as 14 colors, this is an amazing thing. Printmaking on this scale is surely a team effort.

I also saw the new Van Gogh.

I am looking forward to:

James Lavadour at the Halley Ford Museum in Salem two blocks from where I work (Lavadour is my favorite contemporary Oregon painter - aguably the best in our state right now)

The Dancer at the Portland Art Museum (featuring Degas a great draftsman)

The Gates of Paradise and Roman art from Louvre at rhe Seattle Art Museum

Also I might go to see Inspiring Impressionism at Seattle Art Museum which compares Old Master works with the Impressionists