MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 11

Guests on Volume 11: Richard Skolnik, on Baseball and the Pursuit of Innocence: A Fresh Look at the Old Ball Game; Laura Nash, on the influence of religious faith in the marketplace; Dick Keyes, on heroism, character, and the imitation of Christ; Douglas LeBlanc, on musings on mortality by the Crash Test Dummies; Ken Myers, on Michael Moore's TV Nation and terminal irony in prime time; Gene Edward Veith, on communicating truth to a cynical age; Alan Jacobs, on Chinua Achebe and the dilemma of living between two cultures; and Ted Libbey, on Beethoven's Missa Solemnis.

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Part 1

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    Richard Skolnik on Baseball and the Pursuit of Innocence: A Fresh Look at the Old Ball Game

    Baseball and the Pursuit of Innocence: A Fresh Look at the Old Ball Game (Texas A&M University Press, 1994)

    City University of New York professor Richard Skolnik explores the mythic elements of baseball. In his book Baseball and the Pursuit of Innocence: A Fresh Look at the Old Ball Game, Skolnik argues that baseball endures as Americans' national pastime because it connects us with our heritage and tradition. Americans' stubborn attachment to the sport reveals that we may not be as ready to jettison the past as some cultural observers suggest. Americans also appreciate baseball, Skolnik says, because the game is often a metaphor for our everyday lives, reminding us that even the best strike out.

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    Laura Nash on the influence of religious faith in the marketplace

    Believers in Business (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1994)

    Business ethicist Laura Nash discusses how business leaders integrate faith and work. In her book Believers in Business, Nash asked 85 evangelical CEO's how their beliefs impacted their business practices. Drawn from the interviews is a variety of concrete examples of faith at work. In this interview, Nash compares this typically evangelical response with Jewish, liberal Protestant, and Catholic descriptions of the interaction between business and religious belief. Nash also discusses seven creative tensions surrounding Christianity and Capitalism.

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    Dick Keyes on heroism, character, and the imitation of Christ

    Dick Keyes, of the L'Abri Ministry in Massachusetts, calls for a renewed definition of heroism. In current culture, the mass media has turned heroes into celebrities who possess some inherent ability that very few others can hope to emulate. Keyes proposes an alternative Christian interpretation of heroism centered on Jesus Christ as the "hero and perfecter of our faith."

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    Douglas LeBlanc on musings on mortality by the Crash Test Dummies

    The Crash Test Dummies album God Shuffled His Feet was produced on the Arista label.

    Brad Roberts, lead singer and songwriter for the Crash Test Dummies, raises questions about God, existence, and mortality in his music. Critic Douglas LeBlanc explores lyrics from several of Roberts's songs which suggest that the musician believes there is a God, but has a few things he'd "sure like to ask" when he meets his Maker.

Part 2

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    Ken Myers on Michael Moore's TV Nation and terminal irony in prime time

    TV Nation ran for two seasons, a total of seventeen episodes.

    Michael Moore's satirical, cynical news documentaries often deconstruct without offering any alternative vision. This nihilistic approach, critic Ken Myers suggests, is symptomatic of the postmodern age and contributes to the increasing cynicism in American culture.

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    Gene Edward Veith on communicating truth to a cynical age

    Postmodern Times: A Christian Guide to Contemporary Thought and Culture (Crossway, 1994)

    Author Gene Edward Veith discusses postmodernity's effect on Christian apologetics. Veith explains that postmodernity's assault on the whole concept of truth engenders pervasive cynicism about all truth claims and pulls the rug out from under apologetics that rely too heavily on rational arguments. He suggests that the current malaise presents a unique opportunity for Christians to captivate the postmodern imagination by presenting the faith through narrative story and art form.

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    Alan Jacobs on Chinua Achebe and the dilemma of living between two cultures

    Things Fall Apart (Everyman's Library, 1958)

    African novelist Chinua Achebe is a popular author among professors in American universities. Unfortunately, says professor and literary critic Alan Jacobs, many readers highlight only Achebe's harsh portrayal of British imperialism and miss the critique the author mounts against his own Igbo culture. As the son of Christian converts who witnessed the injustices his people suffered under colonial rule, Achebe is uniquely positioned to describe the encounter between Western and African culture. Achebe's novel Things Fall Apart portrays this conflict with a sympathetic and brilliant fairness that avoids oversimplification.

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    Ted Libbey on Beethoven's Missa Solemnis

    A page from the manuscript of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis

    Beethoven once described his Missa Solemnis as the "greatest work" he ever composed. Music critic Ted Libbey agrees. In this lofty work, Beethoven stretches his artistry to the utmost, making full use of orchestra and chorus to tie together the sacred and symphonic in a piece that nearly defies performance. Composed as a mass which celebrates the Lord's Supper, the music contains deep and personal spiritual expressions that speak to the soul.