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Economy & Commerce

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. 42 minutes. $2.

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. $2.

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 133

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Guests on Volume 133: Darío Fernández-Morera, on the real history of Islamic Spain in the Middle Ages; Francis Oakley, on the enduring belief in sacral kingship and the secularization of politics in the late Middle Ages; Oliver O'Donovan, on why all political authority can only be properly understood by way of analogy with God’s kingship; Thomas Storck, on the conflicts between “Americanism” and Catholic social teaching; John Safranek, on the self-contradictory character of modern liberalism; Brian Brock, on the challenges and opportunities of being a “Church theologian” in a secular university; George Marsden, on the birth and influential life of C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity.

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 118

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Guests on Volume 118: Gilbert Meilaender, on the ethical questions raised by anti-aging research, especially its most extreme forms in the "transhumanist" movement; Ron Highfield, on why the modern assumptions about personal identity, freedom, and human dignity create prejudices against the Gospel's account of God and the self; Mark Mitchell, on why gratitude and stewardship should be seen as fundamental political postures; Daniel M. Bell, Jr., on how capitalism nurtures the assumption of the autonomous self; Helen Rhee, on the centrality of almsgiving to Christian identity in the early Church; and Peter Brown, on how the early Church's wrestling with the questions of wealth and poverty steered a course between radical asceticism and careless indulgence.

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 114

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Guests on Volume 114: Susan Cain, on how the 20th-century displacement of character by "personality" encouraged Americans to sell themselves (and marginalize introverts); Brad S. Gregory, on the danger of assuming that previous epochs of history have no lasting influence, and how unintended consequences of the Reformation shrunk Christian cultural influence; David Sehat, on why the story of religious liberty in America is more complicated than is often acknowledged; Augustine Thompson, O.P., on the myths and realities of St. Francis of Assisi; Gerald R. McDermott, on how love and beauty are more fundamental in the thought of Jonathan Edwards than the image of an angry God; and Marilyn Chandler McEntyre, on lessons in The Scarlet Letter about wise ways of reading complex texts.

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 106

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Guests on Volume 106: Adam Briggle, on how Leon Kass's leadership of the President's Council on Bioethics attempted to reframe public thinking about ethical matters; John C. Médaille, on why economics should be concerned with ethical matters from the bottom up; Christopher Page, on how the presence of choral music in the Church shaped the rise of the West; Christian Smith, on why sociologists need a richer understanding of human nature and human personhood and should recognize "love" as an essential human attribute; Herman Daly, on why he and Wendell Berry are disturbed by the lack of attention paid by classical economics to the realities of the material world; and Thomas Hibbs, on the dark nihilism in the films of Woody Allen.

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 100

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Guests on Volume 100: Jennifer Burns, on the life and legacy of Ayn Rand, "goddess of the market" and entrenched enemy of altruism; Christian Smith, on the aimless cultural world of "emerging adulthood" and on how it makes the idea of objective moral order implausible; and Dallas Willard, on why it's important to recover the conviction that religious beliefs involve real knowledge. In honor of the five score milestone, part two of the issue features a look back at the beginnings of the Journal and a few special excerpts of conversations with those early guests, including Peter Kreeft on Lewis, Huxley, and J.F.K. after death; P. D. James, on good and evil in fiction; James Davison Hunter, on culture wars; Paul McHugh, on when psychiatry loses its way; Ted Prescott, on nudity in art and advertising; Ed Knippers, on the powerful presence of the body; Martha Bayles, on pop and perverse modernism; Dominic Aquila, on Christopher Lasch; Gilbert Meilaender, on random kindness; Neil Postman, on technology and culture; and Alan Jacobs, on being maudlin in Madison County.

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 95

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Guests on Volume 95: Stewart Davenport, on how nineteenth-century Christians separated the moral and practical aspects of economic life; William T. Cavanaugh, on how theology and economics are necessarily intertwined and on how a larger understanding of the meaning of "freedom" would change our economic actions; J. Matthew Bonzo & Michael R. Stevens, on Wendell Berry's concern for the dislocating and fragmenting forces in modern life; Craig Gay, on how language—specifically the spoken word—is central to our human experience; Eugene Peterson, on how Jesus' use of ambiguous language encouraged active spiritual engagement; and Barry Hankins, on how the late Francis Schaeffer moved from being a defensive fundamentalist to a prophet of cultural engagement.

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 Journal

Volume 71

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Guests on Volume 71: Peter Augustine Lawler, on Luther, Locke, liberty, and the American Founding Fathers; David Koyzis, on the modern denial of objective meaning and the exaltation of individual will; Roger Lundin, on the incarnational vision of Czeslaw Milosz, and on his poetry of exile and modern boundlessness; Craig Gay, on how the nature of money affects our sense of attributing value to things; Steven Rhoads, on Taking Sex Differences Seriously (and why it's hard to do so); and R. Larry Todd, on the life and music of Felix Mendelssohn.

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