. . . from the MHA archives
The narrative of Scripture and the narrative of modernity
One of the guests on the soon-to-be-released issue of the Journal is N. T. Wright, in conversation with me about Paul and the Faithfulness of God, the final volume of his magnum opus, “Christian Origins and the Question of God.” During the interview, we discuss the idea of narrative, a concept that makes some people nervous. Narrative seems too fuzzy, too imprecise a tool to rely on in doing theology. Wright makes a strong defense of narrative, and also shares some ideas about why narrative may produce resistance:
“But I think an awful lot of people, without even realizing it, live in a narrative, which goes: that in the eighteenth century the world came of age; we now see everything differently; we’ve got science and technology; we’ve got modern democracy; we’ve got this, we’ve got that. We’ve now grown up. Everything beforehand, you know, too bad, apart from these religious moments of revelation, which we look back to with gratitude. But any idea that world history reached its climax in the first century when Jesus of Nazareth came out of the tomb on Easter morning is simply ruled out, because we know that world history reached its climax in the 1770s with Jefferson, Rousseau, and Voltaire and Co. And though people don’t always articulate it like that, that is an extremely powerful narrative in both British and North American culture. Every time somebody says, “But now that we live in the modern world,” dot, dot, dot. That’s what’s going on; they’re invoking that narrative. So I suspect that part of the problem is that that controlling narrative is so big that it has driven many Christians, preachers, pastors, etc. to de-narrate their own faith and to leave it as sort of chunky little clumps of dogma. Of course, the other thing is if you de-narrate the thing, you de-Israelise it, you know, you de-Judaise it, and that has always been a danger for the Church.”
Interview with James Bratt now available for free download
Volume 120 of the MARS HILL AUDIO Journal featured an interview with James Bratt, of Calvin College, on his new biography of Abraham Kuyper. Since Dr. Bratt was such a stimulating guest, we decided to make a longer version of that conversation available here as a free download. To listen to or download the audio, click here (if you haven't registered for a free user account on our site yet, you'll need to do that before accessing the audio). Bratt provides a fascinating account of the life and work of Abraham Kuyper; focusing not only on his theological and cultural vision but on the historical and personal events in Kuyper's life that helped shape that vision. We hope you enjoy the discussion, and if you're interested in hearing more like it, click here to subscribe to the Journal.
Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the life and work of the Victorian poet Christina Rossetti
Volume 119 of the Journal featured an interview with Karen Dieleman about the work of three poets, one of whom was Christina Rossetti. As a bonus accompanying material, we also released a free recording of an interview with Alan Jacobs which was first featured on Volume 12 of the MARS HILL TAPES.
As yet another resource on this topic for interested listeners, we’d also like to direct you to a podcast produced by the BBC called In Our Time. Hosted by Melvyn Bragg (who was himself a guest of the Journal on Volume 112), the free podcast discusses various topics relating to the history of ideas. Click here to listen to Bragg discuss the life of Christina Rosetti. In this feature, listeners can learn more about the historical context of Rossetti’s work, in particular her connections with such movements as the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood as well as the Oxford Movement within the Church of England.
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In 1994, Volume 12 of the MARS HILL TAPES featured an interview with English professor Alan Jacobs on the poetry of Christina Rossetti. This interview was referenced in Volume 119 of the Journal, and the audio from that interview is now available for free (Listeners must be logged in to access the audio).
To access the audio in streaming format or downloadable MP3, click here.