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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.

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 137

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Guests on Volume 137: Gilbert Meilaender, on how adoption offers lessons concerning the relationship between nature and grace; James L. Nolan, on what the observations of four distinguished foreign visitors can teach Americans about themselves; Joel Salatin, on how honoring the pigness of pigs enables us to more fully recognize the Godness of God; Michael Di Fuccia, on Owen Barfield’s understanding of the imagination; Robin Leaver, on clarifying some misconceptions about Martin Luther’s commitment to congregational singing; and Michael Marissen, on how J. S. Bach’s music conveys theological meaning.

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 126

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Guests on Volume 126: James W. Skillen, on how all human cultural activity, including politics, should be understood in the context of God’s good purposes for Creation; Christian Smith, on how American sociology is not (as is claimed) a disinterested scientific endeavor but the pursuit of a sacred project driven by sacred commitments; B. W. Powe, on the unique “apocalyptic” insights of Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye; David Downing, on C. S. Lewis’s The Pilgrim’s Regress; Roger Scruton, on the inability for materialism to give a satisfactory account of our experience of the material world; and Jonathan Arnold, on the curious place of sacred music in a secular society.

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 123

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Guests on Volume 123: Nicholas M. Healy, on some of the practical and theological weaknesses in the writings of Stanley Hauerwas; Christian Smith, on the spiritual lives of emerging adults raised within the Roman Catholic Church and taught at Catholic schools; James K. A. Smith, on Charles Taylor's explanation (in The Secular Age) of how modern culture came to unlearn the theistic assumption of the West; Esther Lightcap Meek, on why pitting "objectivity" against "subjectivity" in describing the nature of knowledge isn't helpful, and on why all knowing involves making a commitment; Richard Viladesau, on the relationship between formal, propositional, academic theology and the theological expressions found in works of art and music; and Jeremy Begbie, on why theologians should be more interested in how music and modernity have interacted.

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 119

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Guests on Volume 119: Mary Eberstadt, on how the decline of formation of natural families has made Christian belief less plausible and contributed to the secularization of Europe; Allan Bevere, on why the claim by “empire criticism” that the letter to the Colossians is a veiled repudiation of Roman imperial hubris is mistaken; Peter J. Leithart, on how the Bible evaluates empires in light of their relationship with the people of God; Steven Boyer, on why “mystery” is a necessary category in Christian theology; Karen Dieleman, on how different liturgical practices of Victorian congregationalism, Anglo-Catholicism, and Roman Catholicism influenced the poetry of Elizabeth Barret Browning, Christina Rossetti, and Adelaide Proctor; and Peter Phillips, on the founding of The Tallis Scholars and the peculiar beauty of Renaissance polyphony.

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 116

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Guests on Volume 116: Stratford Caldecott, on why education should be designed with a deep and wide understanding of human nature and must sustain the unity of knowledge; Fred Bahnson, on how a Christian understanding of God's redemptive work on the earth should influence our practices of growing and sharing food; Eric O. Jacobsen, on how modernism distorted the shape of cities and how Christian reflection on the nature of neighborliness can help restore them; J. Budziszewski, on how meaning in human life transcends a merely biological explanation of our behavior; Brian Brock, on the various ways in which the Church has regarded its obligation to welcome the disabled; and Allen Verhey, on the difference between a "medicalized" death and a death experienced in light of God's cosmic work of redemption.

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 101

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Guests on Volume 101: James Davison Hunter, on how the most prominent strategies of Christian cultural engagement are based on a misunderstanding about how cultures work; Paul Spears, on why Christian scholars need to understand their disciplines in ways that depart from conventional understanding; Steven Loomis, on why education needs to attend more carefully to nonquantifiable aspects of human experience; James K. A. Smith, on how education always involves the formation of affections and how the form of Christian education should imitate patterns of formation evident in historic Christian liturgy; Thomas Long, on how funeral practices have the capacity to convey an understanding of the meaning of discipleship and death; and William T. Cavanaugh, on the distinctly modern definition of "religion" and how the conventional account of the "Wars of Religion" misrepresents the facts in the interest of consolidating state power.

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 99

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Guests on Volume 99: Marilyn Chandler McEntyre, on how the abuse of language creates distrust in the power of words and on how we can be better stewards of the gift of language; Paul A. Rahe, on the heresy of progressivism, which abandons vital convictions about human nature and political order and invites the advent of "soft despotism"; James L. Nolan, Jr., on how European countries have adopted the American model of "problem-solving courts" (and what they also get in the bargain); Andrew J. Cherlin, on why the twin American commitments to marriage and to expressive individualism hurt families; Dale Kuehne, on the faulty assumption that intimate relationships demand sexual involvement, and on how the essentially relational nature of the Gospel is ignored; and Alison Milbank on how the fantasy writings of G. K. Chesterton and J. R. R. Tolkien are intended to reconnect readers with reality.

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