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Human Nature

MARS HILL AUDIO Anthology 6

The Christian Humanism of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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The death of Solzhenitsyn in 2008 provided an opportunity to reassess the life and work of this remarkable figure, whose accomplishment is discussed on this Anthology. Ken Myers talks with the late Edward E. Ericson, Jr. (Solzhenitsyn and the Modern World and co-author of The Soul and Barbed Wire), David Aikman (Great Souls: Six Who Changed the Century), and James Pontuso (Solzhenitsyn's Political Thought) about the conditions and experiences that transformed Solzhenitsyn from a committed Communist schoolteacher to a Nobel Prize-winning novelist and the global symbol of heroic resistance to tyranny. One of the main themes emphasized by these three guests is that Solzhenitsyn was not principally concerned with politics, but with human nature and purpose, understood in light of the Christian account of reality. 73 minutes. $6.

MARS HILL AUDIO Book 6

Are Christians Human? An Exploration of True Spirituality by Nigel Cameron

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Is humanity -- the quality of being human -- a blessing or a curse? Do we simply put up with it, or do we embrace it? Many Christians consider their purpose in life to deny or escape their humanity. But the humanity of Christians is tied up in the humanity of Christ. If Jesus Christ is human, then his humanity is something to be learned and lived. Many Christians, however, do not believe in the humanity of Jesus and consequently find it hard to affirm and live out their own humanity.

As Nigel Cameron points out in Are Christians Human? An Exploration of True Spirituality (Zondervan, 1990), being human as Jesus Christ is human has profound implications for daily living. It means living as embodied creatures, using the gifts of perception and intellect, feeling and responding emotionally to life, using one's discernment and will to chart a course in keeping with God's leading. “The purpose of redemption,” Cameron reminds us, “is to enable man to be once more himself, restored to his right mind and his right place as a creature under God. . . . The Christian life is the life of man, male and female, made in the image of God and after his likeness. To deny this humanity and attempt to reach beyond to a ‘spirituality’ which somehow contradicts it, is to fall prey once more to the tempter in his shining, specious livery, who as an angel of light beckons us to reach beyond the confines of our human existence to a place where in fact we deny it and fall from its dignity.” Read by Ken Myers. $15.

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 85

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Guests on Volume 85: C. John Sommerville, on how higher education, divorced from higher realities, has become socially irrelevant; Catherine Albanese, on American "metaphysical religion," varieties of gnosticism, and the quest for spiritual energy; Christopher Shannon, on how social scientists encouraged the rise of autonomous individualism in 20th-century America; Michael G. Lawler, on the development of the idea of marriage as covenant in Roman Catholic thought; Gilbert Meilaender, on lessons from Augustine in defining proper expectations for the Christian life; Matthew Dickerson, on J. R. R. Tolkien's vision of stewardship of the earth: the glory of trees and the shepherdhood of ents.

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 83

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Guests on Volume 83: Barrett Fisher, on film noir and its revealing portrayal of human moral confusion; Dick Keyes, on contemporary cynicism, how it's destructive, and how it might be resisted; Richard Lints, on a distinctively theological approach to understanding human identity; Paul McHugh, on how the discipline of psychiatry needs to mature, and on "stories" as diagnostic tools; Paul Weston, on lessons from Lesslie Newbigin on interfaith dialogue and the attacks on Christianity from scientism; and Paul Walker, on how the forms of Renaissance choral music communicate rich theological concerns.

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 82

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Guests on Volume 82: Stephen Gardner on how modern culture weakens religion and establishes a new definition of the public; Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn on Tom Wolfe and Philip Rieff's diagnosis of cultural disorder; Wilfred McClay on how Philip Rieff's brilliant critique of modern disorder kept him from realizing a way out of our dilemma; David Wells on how Western culture has eclipsed fundamental assumptions about human nature and God; James K. A. Smith on the postmodern insight that our experience in the world requires interpretation (and that some interpretations are better than others); and Robert Littlejohn on how education should encourage wisdom and eloquence in students.

MARS HILL AUDIO Reprint 3

Joshua P. Hochschild, "Globalization: Ancient and Modern"

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(from The Intercollegiate Review, Spring 2006)

Beginning with the refreshing observation of the sheer ugliness of the word "globalization" ("an adjective, converted into a barbaric verb, then forced into service as a still more barbaric noun"), Hochschild observes that this misbegotten word labels a poorly defined concept. Despite its vagueness, it "suggests a trend toward increased economic and political interdependence, which at once fosters and is fostered by cultural homogenization." Hochschild goes on to examine the effects of this trend on local communities and insists that any effort to evaluate globalization requires a return to a "political teleology," reflection on the ends of politics given the ends of human being. Read by Ken Myers. 36 Minutes. $2.

MARS HILL AUDIO Reprint 2

Matthew B. Crawford, "Shop Class as Soulcraft"

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(from The New Atlantis, Summer 2006)

In the age of think tanks, consulting firms, and IKEA, craftsmanship seems to be in decline. Shop class is becoming rarer, and our children are told that college is the ticket to an "open future" as a "knowledge worker." This rejection of craftsmanship wrongly ignores the cognitive, social, and remunerative rewards of skilled manual work, and wrongly assumes that white-collar work always engages the mind. In this essay, political philosopher Matthew B. Crawford recounts life as a motorcycle mechanic and makes a case for the manual trades as an expression of human flourishing. Read by Ken Myers. 55 minutes. $2.

MARS HILL AUDIO Reprint 1

Roger Kimball, "Leszek Kolakowski and the Anatomy of Totalitarianism"

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(from The New Criterion, June 2005)

Born in 1927 in Poland, Leszek Kolakowski grew out of his youthful Stalinism to become one of the most penetrating critics of Marxism. In his masterful three-volume Main Currents of Marxism, he concluded: "The self-deification of mankind, to which Marxism gave philosophical expression, has ended in the same way as all such attempts, whether individual or collective: it has revealed itself as the farcical aspect of human bondage." Kolakowski's diagnosis of the spiritual crisis of modernity goes far beyond his critique of Marxism; in a variety of books, essays, and public addresses, he regularly returned to the problem of modern culture's denial of the sacred. This essay by Roger Kimball, editor of The New Criterion, was written on the occasion of the release of a new edition of Main Currents of Marxism, and sets the arguments in that book in the wider context of Kolakowski's other work. Read by Ken Myers. 35 minutes. $2.

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 81

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Guests on Volume 81: Nigel Cameron on the lack of ethical reflection in public policy on technology; Joel James Shuman on beliefs about God's nature and purposes informing how we think about sickness and medicine; Brian Volck on embodied life, stories, and how medical practice involves attending to the stories of the bodies of patients; Russell Hittinger on the modern state giving rise to modern Catholic social thought; Mark Noll on learning to think about law and politics from earlier Christians who lived in very different political circumstances; and Stephen Miller on the factors that sustain the art of conversation, and why it's a dying art.

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 80

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Guests on Volume 80: Stephen A. McKnight on The Religious Foundations of Francis Bacon's Thought; Tim Morris & Don Petcher on science, Christology, and why segregating nature from supernature doesn't do justice to either; Vigen Guroian on the mystical character of fragrance and on why working in his garden is an imitation of the Master Gardener; Paul Valliere on Orthodox theology's engagement with questions concerning law, politics, and human nature, and on the ideas of Vladimir Soloviev (1853-1900); Vigen Guroian on the importance of personality and community in the thought of Nicholas Berdyaev (1874-1948); and Calvin Stapert on the affirmation of Creation and intimations of transcendence in the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

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