MARS HILL AUDIO Journal
Guests on Volume 125: Brent Hull, on the virtues of craftsmanship; David Koyzis, on the goodness and nature of authority; Steve Wilkens, on three Christian views of the relationship between faith and reason; Roger Lundin, on faith and doubt in an inescapably verbal universe; Craig Bernthal, on the Christian doctrine of Creation in Tolkien’s mythic writings; and Kerry McCarthy, on the life and legacy of English Renaissance composer William Byrd.
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Brent Hull, on the abandonment of principles of craftsmanship in the building of houses and the concomitant depersonalization of buildings
“Around the turn of the century there was a rejection of ornamentation . . . and so when modern architecture began to take over . . . we lost ornament. And I think part of the reason why modern buildings are inhuman is because they don’t have craft. There isn’t ornament. There isn’t a celebration (for lack of a better word) of the human experience and of skill and of being able to show off.” —Brent Hull
In this conversation, architect Brent Hull discusses how attentive craftsmanship and the classical principles of scale and proportion humanize our buildings, infusing them with personality, meaning, and gender.
David Koyzis, on the importance of recovering an understanding of authority as something resident in an office given to us by God in Creation
“Even in the work of Yves Simon . . . there is this presupposition — or this kind of background supposition — that authority and freedom are somehow different from each other. They’re complementary, he believes — they’re not to be opposed — but they’re still two different things. I think that’s wrong, because I think what we think of as freedom is simply another kind of authority. It’s what I would call exclusive personal authority.” —David Koyzis
On this segment of the Journal, political philosopher David Koyzis challenges the common objections that authority leads to abuses of power and that authority conflicts with freedom. By contrast, Koyzis argues that authority is not primarily found in persuasion or coercion, but rather in our nature as the image bearers of God. The Imago Dei is the “office” that is authorized by the Supreme Authority and extends into all individual and institutional acts. Within this paradigm, freedom is not separate from authority, but dependent upon our response to the many and diverse “authoritative offices” in which we find ourselves.
Steve Wilkens, on three Christian views of the relationship between faith and reason
“Which seems a bit ironic, doesn’t it? Why do you attempt to prove the God you are in conversation with? But there is this notion of reason being redeemed. . . . [U]nderstanding isn’t just the accumulation of an ever greater basket of facts or a bigger spreadsheet of data to work from. Understanding means being transformed so that we can see the purpose of God for the use of our reason. . . . So understanding is a broad framework in which we now see the world in a different way.” —Steve Wilkens
In this interview, philosophy professor, Steve Wilkens, surveys three common views of the relationship between faith and reason within the Christian tradition. Far from being completely distinct and separate, these views often overlap and are held to various degrees among different Christians. Wilkens also examines how these views differ in relation to the Incarnation and the ways in which postmodern categories have shaped the tone of discourse about faith and reason.
Roger Lundin, on how engagement with language informs our engagement with God and the world
“More than ever I think it’s crucial for Christian cultural critics in the twenty-first century to celebrate and to explore the mysteries of the Trinitarian complexity and beauty of God.” —Roger Lundin
On this portion of the Journal, English professor and literary critic Roger Lundin shares the ways in which language enables us to encounter the world: both by giving a name to our desires, exposing the gaps between our experience and our aspirations, and by declaring with confidence the hope grounded in the Word made flesh. Lundin’s book Beginning with the Word challenges the naturalist assumption — found within religious and secular settings — that we are mere matter in a closed system in which “belief” is an epiphenomenal means of coping with consciousness. Instead, Lundin insists, the consequences of an incarnated Word and a trinitarian God reunites and holds in place the modern dichotomy between belief and faith.
Craig Bernthal, on the sacramental vision that informs J. R. R. Tolkien’s depiction of Middle Earth
“Tolkien believed that no one was ever cut off from the truth, no one was ever completely cut off from the Logos, . . . but that it was the impulse of human beings to try to recover that, so that all of human myth has at least some element of truth in it. When Tolkien looked at the Mediterranean myths of dying and resurrecting gods . . . he didn’t use that as a way to dismiss Christianity . . . but it was so much the better for those people who had created those myths; they had gotten part of the truth!” —Craig Bernthal
Here, English professor, Craig Bernthal, talks about the influences upon Tolkien’s creation myths, including Johannine literature, the relationship between pre-modern notions of cosmic harmony and music, Tolkien’s interest in languages, and the proximity of myths to Truth.
Kerry McCarthy, on how composer William Byrd (1540-1623) navigated the cultural changes of the Reformation
“What Byrd was really interested in was the effect on the listeners and also the effect on the performers, since so much of his music was designed as chamber music.” —Kerry McCarthy
In this final conversation, musicologist Kerry McCarthy discusses William Byrd’s very successful musical career within Reformational England. She also talks about Byrd’s interest in music education and his exceptional ability to absorb foreign influences while creating music that was, nonetheless, English.