MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 1

Guests on Volume 1: D. G. Hart, on Oliver Stone's JFK and why film has trouble relating historical realities; Peter Kreeft, on Between Heaven and Hell, a post-death dialogue among John F. Kennedy, C. S. Lewis, and Aldous Huxley; Nigel Cameron, on the loss of the Hippocratic tradition in medicine; Ted Prescott, on the life and work of the late English painter Francis Bacon; Quentin Schultze, on Pat Robertson's plans to begin a 24-hour game show TV channel; James Davison Hunter, on Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America; Gregory Wolfe, on Mark Helprin's novel, A Soldier of the Great War; Edward Mendelson, on how poet W. H. Auden responded to modern culture; and Ted Libbey, on soprano Kathleen Battle.

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Part 1

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    D. G. Hart on Oliver Stone's JFK and why film has trouble relating historical realities

    D. G. Hart cites Oliver Stone's 1992 motion picture, JFK, as an example of simplistic historical revisionism.

    Historian D. G. Hart criticizes the simplistic historical revisionism that characterizes many Hollywood films, including the 1992 film JFK, by Oliver Stone. History, explains Hart, attempts to interpret the given facts from a variety of perspectives in order to account for change over time, a difficult task that requires intellectual rigor and takes into account the complex nature of human beings. Hart also discusses four different approaches to historical filmmaking as well as the Christian view of history, noting that Christians do not have a monopoly on historical interpretation.

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    Peter Kreeft on Between Heaven and Hell, a post-death dialogue among John F. Kennedy, C. S. Lewis, and Aldous Huxley

    Between Heaven and Hell: A Dialog Somewhere beyond Death with John F. Kennedy, C. S. Lewis, and Aldous Huxley (InterVarsity Press, 1982)

    November 22, 1963, is certainly best remembered as the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Philosopher Peter Kreeft of Boston College found it interesting that two other notable figures of the twentieth century died on the same November day: authors C. S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley. Kreeft, who had long been fascinated with the writing of Socratic dialogue, wrote a post-death dialogue among Kennedy, Lewis, and Huxley in his book Between Heaven and Hell. Far from being a difficult task, Kreeft said the writing of the book was the easiest and most pleasurable writing he's done.

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    Nigel Cameron on the loss of the Hippocratic tradition in medicine

    The New Medicine: Life and Death after Hippocrates (Crossway Books, 1991)

    In his book The New Medicine: Life and Death after Hippocrates, theologian Nigel Cameron examines the state of western medicine. Cameron maintains the medical profession is undergoing a fundamental shift away from its historic emphasis on service to the patient and the value of human life. In this culture, physicians who hold to the Hippocratic oath are becoming increasingly marginalized as the practice of medicine becomes a technological power play. Cameron warns that many Christians think about medical ethics solely in terms of the abortion debate, ignoring the broader and deeper crisis in medical values.

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    Ted Prescott on the life and work of the late English painter Francis Bacon

    Painter Francis Bacon's (1909-1992) work can be seen in several on-line exhibits, including those at the Guggenheim Museum and the Tate Gallery, London.

    Art critic and sculptor Ted Prescott discusses the distinctive and often disturbing work of twentieth-century English painter Francis Bacon. Bacon's paintings depict distorted faces that one critic called "images of misery, despair, alienation, and decay." Bacon painted life as he saw it, according to Prescott, and his work reflects the existential anxiety that permeates the twentieth century. Bacon's work is quintessentially modern: it expresses the artist's personal disbelief in Western religion and tradition. Prescott explains that the very fact that Bacon's art grapples with existential rather than political issues makes it appear somewhat old-fashioned in comparison to other modern art, which is often created simply for shock value.

Part 2

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    Quentin Schultze on Pat Robertson's plans to begin a 24-hour game show TV channel

    Christian Broadcasting Network

    Evangelist M. G. "Pat" Robertson once billed his cable TV network, The Family Channel, as a positive alternative to the sleazier, unedifying programming that one finds on many cable channels. Those were the days before Robertson sold the network to Rupert Murdoch's Fox Television, which in turn sold it to Disney—all the while keeping Robertson's own 700 Club broadcast on the network each morning and late evening. Quentin Schultze, author of many books about the media and religion, including Televangelism in America: The Business of Popular Religion and Christianity and the Media in America: Toward a Democratic Accommodation, voices concerns about the ways that "Christian" television tends to imitate mainstream fare.

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    James Davison Hunter on Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America

    Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America (Basic Books, 1991)

    In Culture Wars, sociologist James Davison Hunter argues that public policy debates over issues in law, art, family, and education are more than political battles. Hunter claims that they evidence a struggle for cultural authority between two groups which hold conflicting moral visions. Cultural conservatives believe that moral authority derives from transcendent sources. Cultural progressives reject static ideas about truth in favor of openness, relativism, and pluralism. But progressives are not amoral or secular, according to Hunter. In fact, they are equally zealous about their view of reality and seek the cultural authority to shape the norms and mores of public life according to this view. Hunter also explains how media technologies exacerbate the tension by reducing public discourse to sound-bytes.

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    Gregory Wolfe on Mark Helprin's novel, A Soldier of the Great War

    A Soldier of the Great War (Harcourt, 1991. Reissued by Mariner Books, 2005)

    Gregory Wolfe, editor of Image: A Journal of the Arts & Religion, reports that religious themes are enjoying a renaissance after a period of repression. Contemporary fiction that grapples with questions about meaning and the moral life is once again making its way into the mainstream. Wolfe speculates that this return to religious concerns reveals a widespread search for meaning in a time of deep personal, societal, and cultural crisis. Novelist Mark Helprin is an author who is concerned with porting elements of the transcendent in his novels.

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    Edward Mendelson on how poet W. H. Auden responded to modern culture

    Wystan Hugh Auden, 1907-1973

    Poet W. H. Auden was acutely aware of the historical moments in which he lived. Unlike the modernist poets, who vacillated between the ideal visions of the past and stark portrayals of the present, Auden dealt directly with issues of civic life in the urban environment of the 1930s. Auden's biographer, Edward Mendelson of Columbia University, explains how the poet tried to discover connections between the ordinary events of daily life and the larger movements of history.

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    Ted Libbey on soprano Kathleen Battle

    Kathleen Battle (born August 13, 1948) made her professional debute at the Spoleto Festival in Brahms's Ein deutches Requiem directed by Thomas Schippers.

    The soprano Kathleen Battle, long a best-selling classical vocalist, has recorded a number of popular duets with partners as diverse as guitarist Christopher Parkening, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, violinist Itzak Perlman, and fellow opera singer Jessye Norman. Music critic Ted Libbey reviews her work and maintains that Battle is an artist in the prime of her career. He also reviews the reasons why Battle's voice is ideal for a sacred repertoire.