MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 26

Guests on Volume 26: James Gilbert, on how science and religion negotiate for public respect; William Everdell, on the meaning and method of modernism; David Walsh, on the genius of liberal democracy; Alan Jacobs, on The Dictionary of Global Culture and "Real" Global Culture; Jeffrey Meikle, on American Plastic: A Cultural History; Jeffrey Burton Russell, on A History of Heaven: The Singing Silence; Roger Lundin, on Harry Mulisch's novel, The Discovery of Heaven; and Gordon Kreplin, on music, craft, gift, and beauty.

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Part 1

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    James Gilbert on how science and religion negotiate for public respect

    Redeeming Culture: American Religion in an Age of Science (University of Chicago Press, 1997)

    James Gilbert, author of Redeeming Culture: American Religion in the Age of Science, discusses the role of science and religion in American culture during the middle of the twentieth century. Gilbert discusses the Air Force's use of movies produced by Moody Bible Studios, which seem to mix science and religion. Gilbert summarizes the prevalent view of the time as an interesting cohabitation between religion and science: religion, according to public thought, would keep America good and science would keep America great. Gilbert also details the role of the movies of Frank Capra in spreading the "gospel" of science.

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    William Everdell on the meaning and method of modernism

    The First Moderns: Profiles in the Origins of Twentieth-Century Thought (University of Chicago Press, 1997)

    William Everdell, author of The First Modern: Profiles in the Origins of Twentieth-Century Thought, discusses the genesis of the cultural factors that make up the modern age. Everdell contrasts the nineteenth century as an age of continuity with the twentieth century as an age of analysis and dissection. Everdell discusses the interaction of economic industrialization with modernist ideas. He defends a non-materialist understanding of historical change.

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    David Walsh on the genius of liberal democracy

    The Growth of the Liberal Soul (University of Missouri Press, 1997)

    David Walsh, author of The Growth of the Liberal Soul, discusses the liberal political ideal and the role of the individual in this ideal. The success of the liberal political ideal in modern government, according to Walsh, rests in its ability to uphold the fundamental nature of man as sacred without having to defend this belief. Walsh comments on the new openness in the political world to transcendent principles, and the delicate balance between liberty and freedom which must be maintained by the modern government.

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    Alan Jacobs on The Dictionary of Global Culture and "Real" Global Culture

    The Dictionary of Global Culture (Alfred A. Knopf, 1997)

    Alan Jacobs reviews The Dictionary of Global Culture and discusses the ideologies behind the contemporary notion of global culture. Jacobs argues for the existence of a global culture not based on a respect for different cultures but consumerism. Jacobs goes on to discuss the possibility of global multiculturalism and relates the desire to achieve this ideal with a new humanism which must fight contemporary tribalism. In this context, the dictionary promotes a hope of a global culture that rests on the exchange of cultural nuggets not on a sustainable humanitarian basis.

Part 2

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    Jeffrey Meikle on American Plastic: A Cultural History

    American Plastic: A Cultural History (Rutgers University Press, 1996)

    Jeffery Meikle, author of American Plastic: A Cultural History, discusses the paradoxical relationship between Americans and plastics. On one hand, Americans are driven by a quest for authenticity, rendering plastics undesirable for their synthetic qualities. On the other hand, plastics continue to enchant Americans; their malleability resembles the stuff of a promising utopia.

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    Jeffrey Burton Russell on A History of Heaven: The Singing Silence

    A History of Heaven: The Singing Silence (Princeton University Press, 1997)

    Jeffrey Burton Russell, author of A History of Heaven: The Singing Silence, discusses the contemporary trivialization of the idea of heaven. Efforts to give people a concrete understanding of the nature of heaven in the late nineteenth century, according to Russell, removed the wonder and mystery from the concept and opened it up to banality.

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    Roger Lundin on Harry Mulisch's novel, The Discovery of Heaven

    The Discovery of Heaven (Viking, 1992)

    Roger Lundin speaks about Harry Mulisch's novel, The Discovery of Heaven, especially comparing it to his earlier novel, The Assault. Lundin is ultimately disappointed by the novel, despite its beauty and profundity. He commends Mulisch for trying to examine profound questions: the nature of God, providence, the meaning of evil, suffering and injustice, modern politics, modern disillusionment, and more. Mulish disappoints Lundin because he fails to produce a novel as well written as The Assault. Lundin critiques Mulisch's character development and gives a theological diagnosis for Mulisch's dark worldview.

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    Gordon Kreplin on music, craft, gift, and beauty

    Guitarist Gordon Kreplin aspires to shed light on beauty, personal giftedness, and the beauty of special revelation when he plays.

    Guitarist Gordon Kreplin discusses the relationship between music and prayer, and his selection of music as a means to the giving of light. As a musician with a particular affinity for the works of Bach, Kreplin discusses the ways in which he interprets his music and draws connections between beauty, personal giftedness, and the beauty of Christ on the cross.