Wed, 30 May 2007
This special issue of Audition features interviews with five cultural historians, each reflecting on how assumptions of the meaning of "the human person" has shaped some aspect of the American experience. They are all interested in how particular understandings of human nature have influenced American history, and how the distinctive shape of American history has shaped understanding of the meaning of human nature and the contours of human flourishing.
Each of these thinkers contributed an essay to the anthology Figures in the Carpet: Finding the Human Person in the American Past (Eerdmans). In conversation with Ken Myers on this podcast, Wilfred M. McClay (University of Tennessee at Chattanooga) discusses the differences between the terms "self" and "person." Eric Miller (Geneva College) recounts how Christopher Lasch's insightful books and essays exposed dehumanizing patterns in American cultural life. Eugene McCarraher (Villanova University) explains how many early 20th-centuury thinkers saw modern business corporations as proponents of a more communal shape to public life. Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn (Syracuse University) raises some probing questions about how television shapes moral understanding in children. Christopher Shannon (Christendom College) compares how medical institutions interpret the meaning of suffering with the Christian tradition's interpretation (aided by the writing of Ivan Illich).
Each of these guests has been featured on a past issue of the MARS HILL AUDIO Journal; when heard together, the resonance implied among their diverse concerns become more evident.
Fri, 18 May 2007
In 2001, Alan Jacobs (last heard on our Journal discussing his book The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C. S. Lewis) published a series of essays under the title A Visit to Vanity Fair: Moral Essays on the Present Age. The sixteen essays included in this collection covered a wide range of subjects, from the nature of essays (and essayists) to the place of poetry in preaching to the nature of friendship. There are essays on Harry Potter, C. S. Lewis, and Donald Davie. There's even an essay on the moral temptations of watching those violent nature videos, the ones very red in tooth and claw. When the book was published, we brought Alan to Virginia to record it, and then released it on cassette (just months before Apple introduced the first iPod). We've finally made an MP3 edition of this wonderful book available for sale (just $13 for the 5-1/2 hour unabridged reading). In order to encourage you to consider this purchase (which, for those of you without iPods, can easily be burned to CDs to maintain portability), we've placed the introductory essay from the book on-line here. Purchase information is here. (And if you're in a nostalgic mood, we still have a number of copies of the cassette edition, on 4 cassettes for $23.)
Category:MHA MP3 -- posted at: 2:33pm EDT
Mon, 30 April 2007
The most influential social thinkers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries all believed that religion was an outdated preoccupation which maturing, progressing societies would eventually abandon. This assumption, often called the secularization hypothesis, was held by most sociologists through most of the 20th century.
One sociologist who believed early on that the story of the place of religion in modern societies was a little more complicated and variable than most of his colleagues allowed for was David Martin. Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science, Dr. Martin has long insisted that the fate of religion in modern societies has been dramatically different in different countries.
In 2005, a collection of essays by Martin called On Secularization: Toward a Revised General Theory was published by Ashgate Press. That book was the occasion for a conversation between David Martin and MARS HILL AUDIO host Ken Myers, much of which is presented in this issue of Audition.
A separate portion of this interview was featured on Volume 84 of the MARS HILL AUDIO Journal, which is available for purchase in an MP3 download edition.
Other guests on the Journal who have addressed the issue of secularization include Steve Bruce, Zygmunt Bauman, Edward Norman, and Harry Blamires.