Product Type

Audio Reprints

MARS HILL AUDIO Reprint 21

Christopher Lasch, "Conservatism against Itself"

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(From First Things, April 1990)

In this early article from First Things, historian Christopher Lasch poses the question of whether cultural conservatism is compatible with capitalism. If, as Lasch argues, conservatism is defined by a respect for limits — that human freedom has constraints imposed upon it by nature, history, human fallibility, and “original sin” — then the unrelenting and insatiable quest for ever-increasing standards of comfort that capitalism encourages is completely at odds with conservative values. Despite nineteenth-century attempts to bolster the family as the primary means of curbing the large-scale transfer of “private vices” to “public virtues” implied in liberal economic theory, the effects of twentieth-century capitalism have only underscored how vulnerable the family is when the integrity of its surrounding local institutions is destroyed. Also included in this article is an account of lower-middle class versus upper-middle class cultural values as well as the alternative — though now largely unheard of — economic approaches to liberal capitalism advanced by the distributists and syndicalists. Read by Ken Myers. 42 minutes.

MARS HILL AUDIO Reprint 20

John F. Desmond, "Walker Percy and Suicide"

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(From Modern Age, Winter 2005)

In this article, John Desmond uses the novels of Walker Percy to critique the increasing trend in today’s medical fields and in secular society as a whole to affirm, even if tacitly, that suicide is a decision belonging to each individual as a right. Desmond examines how the influence of existentialist philosophers, Albert Camus and Søren Kierkegaard, informed the theme of suicide in Percy’s novels. As a philosophical novelist, Percy was not merely interested in the narrative effect of suicide, but more deeply wanted to probe how modern man finds himself living a form of “spiritual suicide” or “sickness unto death” (in the words of Kierkegaard). Percy’s critique of modernity was — following the lead of Alexis de Tocqueville — a critique of a Cartesian dualism that separated mind from body and man from nature, leading eventually to an existential man isolated both from himself and his neighbor. 24 minutes.

MARS HILL AUDIO Reprint 19

Jeremy Beer, "On Christopher Lasch"

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(From Modern Age, Fall 2005)

In this biographical sketch, Jeremy Beer describes the intellectual trajectory of cultural historian, Christopher Lasch, whose career spanned from the 1960s through the early 1990s. Beer recounts how, despite growing up in a “militantly secular” home and, throughout his career, sympathetically grappling with the works of Marx and Freud, Christopher Lasch distanced himself from the leftist “radical intellectuals,” whose version of progressivism did not coincide with Lasch’s understanding of a healthy democracy. In his scholarship and criticism, Lasch was concerned about democracy, both as an achievable ideal and as an imperfect reality. He rejected the Left-Right dualism of American politics, arguing that the ostensibly opposing ideologies were merely two sides of the same coin that amounted to the refusal to acknowledge human limitations. Lasch’s diagnosis of the modern, “anxiously narcissistic” self involved a sharp critique of the culture that produced it, namely, a culture that condoned the conquest of nature through scientific, technological, and economic methods without any regard for naturally or institutionally based limits on human freedom. 55 minutes.

MARS HILL AUDIO Reprint 18

Vigen Guroian, "Awakening the Moral Imagination: Teaching Virtues through Fairy Tales"

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(from The Intercollegiate Review, Fall 1996)

In this audio reprint of Vigen Guroian’s “Awakening the Moral Imagination,” Guroian discusses the role that fairy tales plays in moral formation. The multi-dimensional world of the fairy tale has the capacity to depict a compelling vision of what is good and evil without reducing moral formation to mere instruction and the moral imagination to advanced utilitarian reasoning skills. In this essay, Guroian also contrasts the features of character and virtue with those of what is more modernly called “values,” and examines how these different approaches to moral consideration reflect conflicting ways of understanding self-formation. 47 minutes.

MARS HILL AUDIO Reprint 17

Robert W. Jenson, "How the World Lost Its Story"

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(from First Things, October 1993)

In this article, theologian Robert W. Jenson describes how a postmodern world is characterized by the loss of a conviction that we inhabit a “narratable world” that exists coherently outside of ourselves. Although modernity — as opposed to postmodernity — presupposed in its arts and philosophy this narratable world, it did so while at the same time discarding the Judeo-Christian framework that enabled such a supposition in the first place. Increasingly, as the arts prefigured and now as the general culture at large displays, the experience of and confidence in such a coherent narrative has broken down into fragments. How then is the Church to respond to a world that has lost its story? In Jenson's words: “If the church does not find her hearers antecedently inhabiting a narratable world, then the church must herself be that world.” Read by Ken Myers. 40 minutes.

MARS HILL AUDIO Reprint 16

David Bentley Hart, "A Perfect Game: The Metaphysical Meaning of Baseball"

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(from First Things, August 2010)

In this playful article from First Things, theologian David Bentley Hart muses on what is arguably America’s greatest contribution to civilization: baseball. Baseball, as Hart would have it, is the Platonic ideal of sports, “a game utterly saturated by infinity,” a game not contrived by our own artifice, but a discovery long kept secret in the dark mysteries of Reality. Contrary to what Hart disparagingly dubs “the oblong game” — the spatial and temporal confines of which are “pitilessly finite” — baseball in its shape and motion stretches towards endless vistas, unfolding organically according to its own narrative and inner logic while at the same time striving to complete the most perfect of shapes, the circle. Read by Ken Myers. 27 minutes.

MARS HILL AUDIO Reprints

MARS HILL AUDIO Reprints are readings of individual articles and essays from magazines, journals, and pamphlets on subjects of cultural significance. Some articles have been selected to complement the content on recent issues of the MARS HILL AUDIO Journal, offering listeners an opportunity to explore a subject in greater depth or from a slightly different angle. Other articles are chosen to provide a primer on important cultural and theological issues.

MARS HILL AUDIO Reprint 15

Roger Kimball, "Josef Pieper: Leisure and Its Discontents"

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(from The New Criterion, January 1999)

Long before Alasdair MacIntyre or Stanley Hauerwas were reminding us of the significance of historic teaching about virtue, Josef Pieper (1904-1997) was writing confidently about virtue and the virtues. Pieper is best known today for his 1952 book, Leisure, the Basis of Culture. When the book was published, The New York Times enthused "Pieper's message for us is plain. . . . The idolatry of the machine, the worship of mindless know-how, the infantile cult of youth and the common mind — all this points to our peculiar leadership in the drift toward the slave society. . . . Pieper's profound insights are impressive and even formidable." While the Times may not be quite as excited about Pieper today, we're pleased to present a primer on Pieper's ideas in our latest Audio Reprint: "Josef Pieper: Leisure and Its Discontents." This 1999 essay by Roger Kimball introduces listeners to Pieper's arguments about the nature of leisure, which are claims about the nature of philosophy and of human well-being. The article was originally published in The New Criterion, where Roger Kimball is editor and publisher. Read by Ken Myers. 34 minutes.

MARS HILL AUDIO Reprint 14

David Lyle Jeffrey, "God's Patient Stet"

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(from First Things, July/August 2011)

Writing in The American Scholar in 1991, critic Bruce Bawer claimed that Richard Wilbur is "the outstanding contemporary instance of the type of poet who writes in strict forms about traditional themes, and whose poems—making, as they do, frequent, appropriate, and instructive use of meter, rhyme, imagery, alliteration, assonance, and even the occasional classical allusion—could serve as models in a textbook of prosody." But the attentive (and therefore delighted) reader will take less note of Wilbur's model practice than of the sense of marveling that saturates his work. As David Lyle Jeffrey observes in his article, "God’s Patient Stet," the sense of consistency one perceives in Wilbur's work "emerges not only from his craftsmanship as a poet but from his constancy as an affectionate observer of creation, both Nature and human nature." Jeffrey's article focuses on the poems in Wilbur's 2010 anthology Anterooms, especially those that are more explicitly Biblical or theological in their allusions. David Lyle Jeffrey is Distinguished Professor of Literature and Humanities at Baylor University. Read by Ken Myers. 25 minutes.

MARS HILL AUDIO Reprint 12

Mickey Craig & Jon Fennell, "Love in the Age of Neuroscience"

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(from The New Atlantis, Fall 2005)

When Tom Wolfe's novel, I Am Charlotte Simmons, was originally published in 2004, most of the reviews concentrated on the story's sexual escapades. The book was received by social conservatives as an indictment of collegiate promiscuity and dismissed by progressives as a tired and embarrassing display of peephole prurience by a once-vital writer now in his grumpy 70s. Mickey Craig and Jon Fennell argue that sexual confusion is simply a symptom of a larger crisis prominently explored in the book. "The novel invites us to ask: Is love possible in the age of neuroscience? Or have we unmasked human beings only to discover that love is an illusion?" Read by Ken Myers. 38 minutes.

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