Monday, September 18, 2006

Nature and Culture

I just finished reading this excellent short book on the making of medieval books. Reading this book (and reading Umberto Eco's the Name of the Rose, and playing the Myst games...) makes me want to make a book before I die. Perhaps copy out favorite poems or a book of the Bible, over the course of several years in my spare time. Anyway, here's a quote that struck me:

"But the reason for the shape (of illuminated manuscripts) is because animals are oblong, and the reason why books even today are taller then they are wide is because in there medieval ancestry there was a millennium when they were made from folding animal-shaped parchment."

This made me think about the relationship between nature and culture. Christianity understands culture to be natural and nature to be cultural, because God ordained culture at the end of his creation of nature, and also creates and inspires works of culture. In addition to the book of nature he wrote through the hands and words of men a great book. He gave plans for the construction of buildings like the temple. These are works of human culture, but by the maker of nature.

Also Eden was a cultivated garden, as the whole world is (and was) supposed to me. "The Bible begins with a garden and ends with a garden-city"as David Hegeman says in his excellent book on a Biblical Theology of Culture. This is something about nature that environmentalists never seem to understand. Trees weren't meant to be alone. They need to be trimmed and groomed and looked after. Nature isn't nature without culture. At the same time culture flows from nature.


Blogger Susan said...

i like this post. i've never thought about creation in this context before.

9/19/2006 7:23 PM  

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