The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Frame on Culture
from Doctrine of the Christian Life By John M. Frame:

Chapter 45: What is Culture?

Chapter 46: Christ and Culture

Chapter 47: Christ and Our Culture

Chapter 48: Christians In Our Culture

Chapter 49: Culture in the Church

All of these are available via pdf, Word, html.

HT: Mark Horne

Friday, May 23, 2008
The Times they Are a Changin'
I suppose this isn't exactly new news. But Cnet has a piece on how the old audiophile approach to music is all but dead. The "high fidelity" approach to music is all but dead (or at the very least has been pushed to a far-off corner niche).

It is striking how difference music listening is today. Ipods and the like have made music into a ubiquitous, mostly solo affair. When I was a college undergraduate audio systems were a pretty big deal (often literally). Listening to records was often a communal activity in a particular space. Now this is all but a ghost from the past.

Music today is a commodity--ripped for free track by track, or bought for 99 cents and eventually added to a vast digital library, either destined to become a favorite, or more likely forgotten for good after a couple of listens. Today's music players are regarded the same way--mostly as disposable. Either the player will work for two or three years before sputtering and dying, or a newer, faster, smaller, better player that has far more cachet will be released in six months.

"I often wonder about the 30-year-old iPod," Guttenberg mused. "Will someone still use an iPod in 30 years," like audiophiles do high-end speakers?

The answer is, of course, not a chance.

Monday, May 19, 2008
You Are Here

This map gave me a pleasant chuckle.

According to the map I live in "U.L.M.P.", but experience tells me I am more likely situated in humble state of Granola.

Crunch. Crunch.

HT: Alan Jacobs

Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Robert Rauschenberg is Dead

His evocative works (along with Jasper Johns) were very influencial on my early interest in painting and art, though you would never know it today.

He once quipped: "A pair of socks is not less suitable to make a painting with than wood, nails, turpentine, oil and fabric."

He is usually called a pop artist, but his approach is actually closer to Dada. A really fine book that captures his early development and relationship to Duchamp is Calvin Tomkins Off the Wall - really good read.

Its seems that I am running into the idea of our future life being lived on earth - with buildings and culture, etc. - more and more.

The idea was first powerfully introduced to me in Richard Mouw's When Kings Come Marching in and was reinforced by Anthony Hoekema's books. But this idea goes back (at least) to Kuyper and Bavinck and can be seen in many other reformed writers. The idea is prominant in my book Plowing in Hope, and is featured in other recently published books such as Nathan Bierma's Bringing Heaven Down to Earth and Michael Wittmer's Heaven is a Place on Earth.

Most recently I saw this in a book excerpt published by Christianity Today by NT Wright:

Thus the church that takes sacred space seriously (not as a retreat from the world but as a bridgehead into it) will go straight from worshiping in the sanctuary to debating in the council chamber; to discussing matters of town planning, of harmonizing and humanizing beauty in architecture, green spaces, and road traffic schemes; and to environmental work, creative and healthy farming methods, and proper use of resources. If it is true, as I have argued, that the whole world is now God's holy land, we must not rest as long as that land is spoiled and defaced. This is not an extra to the church's mission. It is central.

This is a very powerful idea. I think it is key to healthy Christian cultural activity - in addition to the restorative work that Wright discusses in his essay.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Just Passing Through
But Where?

Doug Wilson puts it quite well:

Many Christians believe the cosmos has an upper and lower story, with earth as the lower and heaven as the upper. You live the first chapters of your life here. Then you die, and you move upstairs to live with the nice people in part two. There might be some kind of sequel after that, but it is all kind of hazy. The basic movement in this thinking is from Philippi “below” to Rome “above.”

But what Paul teaches us here is quite different. We are establishing the colonies of heaven here, now. When we die, we get the privilege of visiting the heavenly motherland, which is quite different than moving there permanently. After this brief visit, the Lord will bring us all back here for the final and great transformation of the colonists (and the colonies). In short, our time in heaven is the intermediate state. It is not the case that our time here is the intermediate state. There is an old folk song that says, “This world is not my home, I’m just passing through.” This captures the mistake almost perfectly. But as the saints gather in heaven, which is the real intermediate state, the growing question is, “When do we get to go back home?” And so this means that heaven is the place that we are just “passing through.”

As they say, home is where the heart is.