Volume 34

Guests on Volume 34: Michael Aeschliman, on C. S. Lewis and the problem of scientism; Jeremy Rifkin, on The Biotech Century: Harnessing the Gene And Remaking the World; Jean Bethke Elshtain, on Vaclav Havel, identity politics, and the possibilities of democracy; Katherine Shaw Spaht, on the purposes of covenant marriage laws; Steven L. Nock, on why married couples divorce; Louise Cowan, on how classics address our imagination; Ramsey MacMullen, on the rise of Christendom; and Ted Libbey, on the music of Hildegard von Bingen.

Part 1

  • Description

    Michael Aeschliman on C. S. Lewis and the problem of scientism

    The Restitution of Man: C. S. Lewis and the Case Against Scientism (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998)

    Michael Aeschliman, author of The Restitution of Man: C. S. Lewis and the Case Against Scientism, argues that Lewis's concerns about the unbridled power of science have reached a critical mass. Aeschliman discusses the roots of and the contemporary meaning of Lewis's stance against scientism, and Lewis's ability to balance the views of scientific materialism and defiance of the reality of science. Lewis was, according to Aeschliman, a rationalist who saw all of the world as open to the penetration of the mind.

  • Description

    Jeremy Rifkin on The Biotech Century: Harnessing the Gene And Remaking the World

    The Biotech Century: Harnessing the Gene and Remaking the World (Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 1998)

    Jeremy Rifkin, author of The Biotech Century, talks about the great social changes that could happen with advance in Biotechnology. He sees the 21st century as the biology age, not as the technology age, in which computers are only the tool for information. Rifkin goes on to speak about the interaction of patents, sociobiology, and market-based eugenics and biotechnology.

  • Description

    Jean Bethke Elshtain on Vaclav Havel, identity politics, and the possibilities of democracy

    Democracy on Trial (Basic Books, 1995)

    Jean Bethke Elshtain says Czech leader Vaclav Havel's ability to connect with people has made him influential in her thought. The tension between the individual and the community in American political culture results in identity politics, according to Elshtain, where individuals are brought together as a group at the cost of their individuality. Havel's literary career has made a profound difference in his understanding of political life, according to Elshstain.

  • Description

    Katherine Shaw Spaht on the purposes of covenant marriage laws

    Katherine Shaw Spaht, Louisiana State University Law professor, speaks about the benefits and nature of covenant marriage, which recently became an option in Louisiana. She sees this as a boost to the waning presence of mediating institutions in civil society. Covenant marriages invite the church back in the civil arena by allowing them to speak to couples with a greater degree of moral authority.

Part 2

  • Description

    Steven L. Nock on why married couples divorce

    Steven L. Nock, sociologist at the University of Virginia, speaks about the evolving nature of marriage which has produced relationships solely based on love and affection, not moral, religious, or economic ties. He speaks about the phenomenon of express divorce and the contemporary rational behind many divorces. He then compares divorce in the United States with divorce in Western Europe. He ends his comments by speaking about the relationship between the Baby-Boomer generation and divorce.

  • Description

    Louise Cowan on how classics address our imagination

    Invitation to the Classics (Baker Publishing, 1998)

    Louise Cowan, co-author of Invitation to the Classics, believes that an understanding of the classics can transform the imagination of the reader, teaching self-evident truths. The enduring quality of the classics, according to Cowan, gives readers a sense of "the presence of the past." Defining a classic, according to Cowan, is less an analytical skill and more an intuitive recognition.

  • Description

    Ramsey MacMullen on the rise of Christendom

    Christianity and Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries (Yale University Press, 1999)

    Ramsey MacMullen, author of Christianity and Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries, shares insights about the history of the conversion of the West. He details the myth of the status of paganism in the fourth century, about the persecution of pagans by Christian bishops, and about the role of pagan religions in the pre-Christian culture of Europe. He also tells of the rise of superstition in pagan and Christian cultures in the third century, and speaks on the moral obligation of historians to be honest about the past.

  • Description

    Ted Libbey on the music of Hildegard von Bingen

    Saint Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179)

    Music critic Ted Libbey examines the work of the medieval mystic Hildegard von Bingen. Her music, according to Libbey, has only been studied extensively with the last twenty years and he attributes its increasing popularity to the rise in interest of the Gregorian chant. Libbey also describes the contours of von Bingen's parallel musical language.