MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 32

Guests on Volume 32: Mark Kingwell, on hope and fear at the edge of the millennium; Daniel Pipes, on where beliefs about conspiracies come from; Herb Kutchins, on the DSM and problems in making mental health diagnoses; Nicholas Wolterstorff, on the presence of God in the paintings of Stanley Spencer; Vincent Scully, on the nature of cities and urban life; Richard Moe, on preserving communities and saving old buildings; Joel Carpenter, on fundamentalism as a true religious movement, not a reactionary social movement; and Bruce L. Edwards, Jr., on learning from and teaching C. S. Lewis.

Part 1

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    Mark Kingwell on hope and fear at the edge of the millennium

    Dreams of Millennium: Report from a Culture on the Brink (Faber & Faber, 1996)

    Canadian journalist and philosophy professor Mark Kingwell investigates the state of various vestiges of society as the end of the twentieth century approached in Dreams of Millennium: Report from a Culture on the Brink. His reporting led him to interview dozens of people involved in aberrant behaviors. Kingwell calls these emerging practices a "latent virus in the cultural body," experiences that have always been present in the world but are becoming amplified and distorted today by an ubiquitous media. Though there are many who see these lifestyles as the very types of wickedness which scripture warns are portents of the last days, the majority of people see the world as changing but not coming to an end, according to Kingwell.

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    Daniel Pipes on where beliefs about conspiracies come from

    Conspiracy: The Power of the Paranoid Style in History (The Free Press, 1997)

    In his book, Conspiracy: How the Paranoid Style Flourishes and Where It Comes From, editor of the Middle East Quarterly Daniel Pipes demonstrates that the idea of the conspiracy is really a western one, and other regions of the world where these theories exist have had western influences. He traces the history of the conspiracy back to the era of the Crusades and especially to the French Revolution. The conspiracy theory came of age in the aftermath of World War I as Stalin and Hitler came to power seeking world domination, but since the tragedies of World War II, the idea has waned or been relegated to more extreme factions. Pipes notes that the lack of belief in a providential force also contributes to conspiratorial thinking, since something must take the place that God holds (in believers' minds) in controlling world events.

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    Herb Kutchins on the DSM and problems in making mental health diagnoses

    Herb Kutchins and Stuart Kirk's book, Making Us Crazy: DSM: The Psychiatric Bible and the Creation of Mental Disorder, was published by Free Press in 1997.

    Herb Kutchins, together with co-author Stuart Kirk, raises concerns about the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders (or DSM), viewing it as a manual whose sole intent seems to be justifying drug treatments in order to maintain insurance coverage. Kutchins discusses the therapeutic ethos dominating our culture, and the lack of a communal approach to helping people overcome mental health disorders.

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    Nicholas Wolterstorff on the presence of God in the paintings of Stanley Spencer

    (Spencer self-portrait); "Painting God in Our Village: The Art of Stanley Spencer" (Image, number 18, Winter 1997)

    Nicholas Wolterstorff shares thoughts and opinions on British artist Stanley Spencer, who died in 1951. Putting Spencer in historical context, Wolterstorff describes some of his distinct images and discusses his "God-conciousness." Wolterstorff analyzes Spencer's religious expression and discusses his method of interpreting the sacred in the secular.

Part 2

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    Vincent Scully on the nature of cities and urban life

    Vincent Scully's American Architecture and Urbanism was published by Henry Holt & Company Inc. in 1988.

    Vincent Scully, architectural historian at Yale University, believes the consequences of architectural modernism led to a revival of traditional architecture. The current trend among architects seems to embrace the notion of "culture as an act of will," rejecting the modernist spirit of Zeitgeist. Scully discusses the role of the architect in urban design and planning, and the hope he has for the future of urban planning.

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    Richard Moe on preserving communities and saving old buildings

    Changing Places: Rebuilding Communities in the Age of Sprawl (Henry Holt & Company, Inc., 1997)

    Richard Moe, author of Changing Places: Rebuilding Communities in the Age of Sprawl, discusses the goodness of preserving historical communities and the changing nature of historical preservation in the United States. He also offers a critique of the New Urbanism movement. Historic buildings and neighborhoods are important, according to Moe, because they help people live with a sense of the past and be a wise steward of the material world.

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    Joel Carpenter on fundamentalism as a true religious movement, not a reactionary social movement

    Revive Us Again: The Reawakening of American Fundamentalism (Oxford University Press, 1997)

    Joel Carpenter, author of Revive Us Again, discusses the fundamentalist movement in the twentieth century. The turning point in the history of fundamentalism, according to Carpenter, was the marginalization of fundamentalism from mainstream culture as a result of the Scopes Trial. Carpenter also discusses the paradoxical nature of the theology of fundamentalism, which holds an essentially pessimistic eschatology and, at the same time, a desire to build institutions for the kingdom in this world.

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    Bruce L. Edwards, Jr. on learning from and teaching C. S. Lewis

    The Abolition of Man is available in several editions.

    Bruce L. Edwards, Jr. reflects on the initial interaction between his students and the works of C. S. Lewis, and discusses what students learn from Lewis's integration of faith and of life, of the temporal with the eternal. Lewis's writings encourage students to look deeply at life in this world and to search for coherence. According to Edwards, the writings of Lewis can also serve as a guide for students through the dangers of postmodern culture.