MARS HILL AUDIO Journal
Guests on Volume 62: Craig Bernthal, on the theme of judgment in the plays of Shakespeare; James Turner Johnson, on recent distortions of the just war tradition; Alissa Quart, on Branded: the Buying and Selling of Teenagers; Stephen M. Barr, on how modern science has challenged the materialist view of human nature; Lilian Calles Barger, on beauty, the body, spirituality, and the "true self," and on why the food court at the megachurch isn't what our neighbors need; and Corby Kummer, on the connections between food and community.
Craig Bernthal on the theme of judgment in the plays of Shakespeare
"Whenever we act, we act, to a certain extent, on the basis of faith."
Professor Craig A. Bernthal attends to a number of trial scenes in some of Shakespeare's plays in order to discuss what Shakespeare and his contemporaries believed about judgment and justice. Bernthal is author of The Trial of Man: Christianity and Judgment in the World of Shakespeare. Bernthal states that Elizabethan culture, as indicated by the Bard's depictions of justice and judgment, viewed earthly judgment as analogous to divine judgment. Law was established in the order of the universe; the job of those in legislative positions was to discover and apply it. Bernthal describes how the courts of Shakespeare's time used theological, political, and judicial insights to accomplish their task.
James Turner Johnson on recent distortions of the just war tradition
"I don't think you can read Augustine or Aquinas or Luther or Calvin or Vittoria . . . Without seeing very clearly that the issue [in the just war tradition] is whether the requirements of civil society can be maintained responsibly without recourse to force in the face of injustice."
—James Turner Johnson
Professor James Turner Johnson discusses traditional just war theory, examining it and explaining how departures from the theory have compromised it. Johnson is author of Morality and Contemporary Warfare. He states that Christian just war theory developed out of the idea that people ought to protect others from injustice and harm; he references theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) to explain how individuals who rightly turn the other cheek when someone wrongs them (because self-defense does not require use of force) may be called upon to use force in defense of their neighbor (even at the risk of personal injury). Secular just war theory, says Johnson, asserts that government's responsibility to ensure the common good will require recourse to force occasionally. Johnson attends to what people have said about the just war tradition in recent decades.
Alissa Quart on Branded: the Buying and Selling of Teenagers
"Brands are stars in these kids' world, and they want to be part of the stars' entourage."
Journalist Alissa Quart discusses the world of advertising and the role it plays in shaping the identities of teenagers and younger children. Quart is author of Branded: The Buying and Selling of Teenagers. She explains that teenagers and younger children are particularly vulnerable to advertising focus groups and trendspotters who offer them a sense of belonging and identity in exchange for promoting certain brands and products to their friends. They are particularly vulnerable partly because they do not have the necessary time or space to develop a sense of identity before they are exposed to advertising. Ads and marketing agents solicit children's support at increasingly tender ages, and children lend it in order to feel as though they belong to something important.
Stephen M. Barr on how modern science has challenged the materialist view of human nature
"I think one of the things that modern discoveries have debunked is materialism itself. But there's such a strong materialist prejudice in so many quarters that a lot of people have closed their eyes to this."
—Stephen M. Barr
Professor Stephen M. Barr discusses the "religion vs. science" debate and the difference between science and materialism. Barr is the author of Modern Physics and Ancient Faith. Contrary to common opinion, says Barr, religion and science are not inherently antagonistic or indifferent to each other. Science concerns itself with describing what exists (not explaining why something exists), and religion, specifically in the forms of Judaism and Christianity, concerns itself with the relationships between God, humanity, and creation. Barr explains that antagonism does exist between science and materialism, however, and he describes what materialism is along with what has happened to its credibility in the twentieth century.
Lilian Calles Barger on beauty, the body, spirituality, and the "true self"
"The best thing parents can do is give their children a lot of opportunities . . . To have real, wonderful, rich community experiences and relationships."
—Lilian Calles Barger
Writer and speaker Lilian Calles Barger discusses how the narrow definition of beauty that is currently popular affects women. Barger is author of Eve's Revenge: Women and a Spirituality of the Body. She explains that the twentieth century brought with it an emphasis on images, and that the women portrayed in pictures set a narrow standard for what people consider beautiful. Women who do not fit the standard become frustrated with their bodies, and their frustration is increased by other prevalent assumptions about embodiment that are unrealistic. Barger describes what those assumptions are, their origins, and how people can try to resist them.
Corby Kummer on the connections between food and community
Writer and editor Corby Kummer discusses the origins and goals of the Slow Food Movement. Kummer is author of The Pleasures of Slow Food: Celebrating Authentic Traditions, Flavors, and Recipes. He was first introduced to the Slow Food Movement through an "incredibly thrilling" food show in Turin, Italy, that showcased both foods from particular regions, and the people responsible for growing or producing those foods. The movement honors the relationships between tradition, land, community, and food; it began its work in the 1980s. Kummer describes how it encourages people to preserve the foods and traditions unique to the places in which they live.
Lilian Calles Barger from the bonus track of the CD edition, on why the food court at the megachurch isn't what our neighbors need
"In order for us to live in . . . More coherence with our bodies, to really be comfortable with our bodies, we desperately need a place to be."
—Lilian Calles Barger
Writer and speaker Lilian Calles Barger discusses the connections between spirituality, body issues, and community life. In her book Eve's Revenge: Women and a Spirituality of the Body, Barger attends to the frustrations many women have with their bodies. She notes that life in a community can play a role in restoring to women a proper understanding of the body. Barger addresses the conditions that are necessary for the development of a community, mentioning that the sprawling nature of suburbs is antithetical to those conditions. Social ties are formed partly through unplanned, face-to-face encounters, she states; if people wish to participate in a community, they ought to live near each other and be physically present to one another.