MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 33

Guests on Volume 33: Elizabeth Haiken, on Venus Envy: A History of Cosmetic Surgery; Patrick Glynn, on recovering belief; Thomas Howard, on C. S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces; David Wells, on how our culture distracts us from remembering moral nature; Peter Heslam, on Abraham Kuyper, Calvinist theologian and statesman; Suzanna Sherry, on the assault on truth in legal scholarship; Ted Libbey, on Felix Mendelssohn’s oratorios, Elijah and Paulus; and David Wells, on the contrast between classic and postmodern spirituality.

Part 1

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    Elizabeth Haiken on Venus Envy: A History of Cosmetic Surgery

    Venus Envy: A History of Cosmetic Surgery (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998)

    Elizabeth Haiken, author of Venus Envy: A History of Cosmetic Surgery, provides a fascinating account of how the techniques of cosmetic surgery developed in the early twentieth century as one manifestation of the newfound emphasis on self-improvement. Cosmetic surgery increasingly is seen as a means of liberating women and men from the external imperfections that hold them back from becoming all that they can and ought to be. Haiken addresses the way in which the term "disease" has broadened to include much more than infirmities; what were once simply small breasts, big noses, and wrinkles are now physical maladies which, our culture tells us, ought to be remedied with all the medical advancements at our disposal.

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    Patrick Glynn on recovering belief

    God: The Evidence: The Reconciliation of Faith and Reason in a Postsecular World (Forum, 1997)

    Patrick Glynn relates the story of his conversion from atheism to Christianity in his book God: The Evidence. Glynn talks about the traumatic and then exhilarating process of his abandonment of disbelief, and of the surprisingly theistic trends in contemporary physics and biology.

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    Thomas Howard on C. S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces

    Till We Have Faces (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1956)

    C. S. Lewis scholar Thomas Howard discusses Till We Have Faces, the unique novel by Lewis that most perplexes his readers but was Lewis's personal favorite among his collected works. Howard discusses Lewis's attachment to the book and describes the mythical framework Lewis used to write the novel. Howard discusses the nature of myth, its benefits to readers, and relates the telling of myth to the truth of the gospel.

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    David Wells on how our culture distracts us from remembering moral nature

    Losing Our Virtue: Why the Church Must Recover Its Moral Vision (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998)

    Sociologist David Wells, author of Losing Our Virtue: Why the Church Must Recover Its Moral Vision, addresses how our ideas are absorbed from our culture, which in turn is being shaped by other forces which we cannot always anticipate. Former virtues of self-sacrifice, character, restraint of desire, and a submission to a fixed human nature are now being replaced in the Christian life with values of personality, self-autonomy, individualism, anti-rationalism, anti-establishment, liberation of desire, and self-fulfillment.

Part 2

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    David Wells on the contrast between classic and postmodern spirituality

    Losing Our Virtue: Why the Church Must Recover Its Moral Vision (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998)

    Continuing his conversation from Part One of this issue of the Journal, David Wells explores the differences between classic spirituality and a postmodern form of spiritual life.

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    Peter Heslam on Abraham Kuyper, Calvinist theologian and statesman

    Creating a Christian Worldview: Abraham Kuyper's Lectures on Calvinism (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998)

    Dr. Peter Heslam, author of Creating a Christian Worldview: Abraham Kuyper's Lectures on Calvinism, was surprised by the influence that Kuyper (a Dutch Calvinist theologian) had on the historical development of the nineteenth century, particularly in the realms of politics and education. He considers Kuyper's contributions as both theologian and political activist as most noteworthy, though he also played important roles in the fields of journalism, education, and philosophy. Kuyper held a unique position as a true leader in the cultural life of the country. For example, Kuyper's formation of the Anti-Revolutionary political party reflected his desire to counter the radical enlightenment principles which emerged in the French Revolution; he was concerned that these principles sought to replace orthodox religious belief with a "bare rationalism" that secularized every aspect of society.

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    Suzanna Sherry on the assault on truth in legal scholarship

    Beyond All Reason: The Radical Assault on Truth in American Law (Oxford University Press, 1997)

    Suzanna Sherry, co-author of Beyond All Reason: The Radical Assault on Truth in American Law, gives the listener an understanding of shifting philosophical foundations in the legal academy. Authors of narrative-based legal articles informed by a nihilistic worldview are attempting to corrode the traditional understanding of law as an objective and neutral avenue to justice. These stories of victimhood argue for an understanding of legal policy where the good derives from the good of that person's specific group. Sherry ends the interview by telling how she challenges this anti-rational worldview and legal interpretation.

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    Ted Libbey on Felix Mendelssohn's oratorios, Elijah and Paulus

    Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847), painting by Eduard Magnus

    Ted Libbey informs listeners about the life and work of Felix Mendelssohn. Libbey highlights Mendelssohn's place in the center of the Romantic movement, specifically his family's role in German romanticism. Libbey comments on Mendelssohn's respect and openness to the music of the past, especially Bach, and how this music affected his work. Libbey specifically comments on Mendelssohn's Oratorios. He speaks on Paulus, which reflects the narrative of Mendelssohn's family, and Elijah, which gives a needed prophetic voice to Mendelssohn's generation.