Pastor and literature enthusiast Peter Leithart recommends a recent book about the influence of the classical world on modern Western civilization. Click here for his abstract.
Pastor and literature enthusiast Peter Leithart recommends a recent book about the influence of the classical world on modern Western civilization. Click here for his abstract. [Posted March 2005, ALG]
Hoping to encourage thoughtful reflection in America on the larger questions surrounding technology and human nature, the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington has founded The New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology & Society. The premiere issue, published in the spring of 2003, featured articles by such heavyweights in the world of bioethics as Leon R. Kass and Gilbert Meilaender. For information about subscribing to the quarterly Journal, its mission and editorial board, or to browse the available issues, visit The New Atlantis's web pages. [Posted February 2004, ALG]
Gilbert Meilaender, a guest on multiple volumes of the MARS HILL AUDIO Journal, was invited to present a paper on bioethics for the Ethics and Public Policy Center's semi-annual conference on religion and public life in December 2004. A transcript of his talk, complete with a reply from a journalist attending the conference, is available on-line.
In "Bioethics and Human Nature: Exploring Some Background Issues," Meilaender emphasizes the need for morally serious thinking about bioethics grounded in an understanding of human nature. Before one can wisely recommend implementation of bioethical practices, one ought to have a firm grasp on what it means to be human. Meilaender points out that bioethics offers four ways of unpacking that very question, and he attends to each way in turn, devoting the bulk of his paper to setting the stage for further reflection about bioethical issues. The four themes Meilaender examines are: the unity and integrity of the human being; human finitude and freedom; the relation between the generations; and suffering and vulnerability. He closes his discussion with the tale of Prometheus, and he advocates not only the caution advised therein, but also the ability and willingness to stop "progress" if necessary. He writes, "Now, quite often, of course, proceeding with caution is perfectly sound advice. . . . But if we really want to be morally serious, the ability to stop, to decline to go forward, may also sometimes be needed . . . ."
"The Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC) was established in 1976 to clarify and reinforce the bond between the Judeo-Christian moral tradition and the public debate over domestic and foreign policy issues. Its program includes research, writing, publication, and conferences." (Quote taken from the web pages of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.) [Posted February 2005, ALG]
A sampling of sources . . .
Financing the American Dream: Debt, Credit, and the Making of the American Consumer Culture was published by Princeton. Robert Bocock provides a sociological survey of the topic in his 1993 book, Consumption (Key Ideas) (Routledge). Writing that "Consumerism has become the practical ideology of capitalism," he traces the shift in the basis of social identity from production to consumption. Although no longer in print, T. J. Jackson Lears's The Culture of Consumption: Critical Essays in American History, 1880-1980 (Pantheon, 1983) provides a historical understanding of credit and consumption in a period of great change. In Lead Us Into Temptation: The Triumph of American Materialism (Columbia, 1999), James Twitchell sets forth the provocative thesis that consumption is an outgrowth of our need for self-identity—a need for which the culture no longer provides. Countering the idea that consumers are the hapless victims of marketers, Twitchell believes we have quite willingly become a consumer culture—indeed, "consumerism is our better judgement." [Posted October 2001, ALG]
For further resources, see Gary Cross's An All-Consuming Century, published by Columbia University. An earlier work by Cross, Kids Stuff: Toys and the Changing World of American Childhood (Harvard, 1999), examines in detail the effects of consumerism on children. Michael Sandel examines the emergence of "the newest commercial frontier—the public schools" in his essay "Ad Nauseum" in the September 1, 1997, issue of The New Republic. [Posted November 2001, ALG]
Jill Peláez Baumgaertner's Flannery O'Connor: A Proper Scaring is published by Cornerstone Press. One of the most recent anthologies about O'Connor's work was published in 1997 as Volume 17 of the biannual journal, Literature and Belief, a project of the Center for the Study of Christian Values in Literature at Brigham Young University. Among the essays included are Ralph C. Wood's "Flannery O'Connor's Strange Alliance with Southern Fundamentalists," Robert Donahoo's "O'Connor's Catholics: A Historical-Cultural Context," and Jae-Nam Han's "O'Connor's Thomism and the 'Death of God' in Wise Blood." Ralph C. Wood devotes a large section to O'Connor in his book The Comedy of Redemption: Christian Faith and Comic Vision in Four American Novelists (Notre Dame, 1988). Other books to note: Robert H. Brinkman, The Art and Vision of Flannery O'Connor (LSU Press, 1989); Robert Coles, Flannery O'Connor's South (LSU Press, 1980); John E. Desmond, Risen Sons: Flannery O'Connor's Vision of History (University of Georgia Press, 1987); Anthony DiRenzo, American Gargoyles: Flannery O'Connor and the Medieval Grotesque (Southern Illinois University Press, 1993); David Eggenschwiler, The Christian Humanism of Flannery O'Connor (Wayne State University Press, 1982); Kathleen Feeley, Flannery O'Connor: Voice of the Peacock (Rutgers, 1972); Conversations with Flannery O'Connor, ed. by Rosemary M. Magee (University Press of Mississippi, 1987); Flannery O'Connor and the Christian Mystery, ed. by Sua Prasad Rath and Mary Neff Shaw (University of Georgia, 1996); Marion Montgomery, Why Flannery O'Connor Stayed Home (Sherwood Sugden, 1981); and Brian Abel Ragen, A Wreck on the Road to Damascus: Innocence, Guilt, and Conversion in Flannery O'Connor (Loyola, 1989). [Posted October 2001, ALG]