MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 38

Guests on Volume 38: Craig Gay, on how modern culture encourages atheism; Alvin Kernan, on why the academy can't afford to be too democratic; Erik Davis, on myth, magic, and mysticism in the age of information; Marva Dawn, on teaching children about being the Church; Wendy Shalit, on the lost virtue of female modesty; Marva Dawn, on sexual education and the Church's children; Leon Podles, on why men are often alienated from Christianity; and Dan Blazer, on the incomplete conversation between psychiatry and Christianity.

Part 1

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    Craig Gay on how modern culture encourages atheism

    The Way of the (Modern) World: or, Why It's Tempting to Live as If God Doesn't Exist (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998)

    Craig Gay, author of The Way of the (Modern) World: Or, Why It's Tempting to Live As If God Doesn't Exist, speaks of the charge that Christianity is an otherworldly religion. It is the otherworldliness of Christianity that has brought much redemption to the social structures of the world by valuing people based upon their value in another world not based on property and power. Gay goes on to explain how much Christian doctrine in the modern era has been marked by a desire to control the world. This control seemed so successful that the church in the west has been tempted to think that there is not another world which should define our reality.

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    Alvin Kernan on why the academy can't afford to be too democratic

    In Plato's Cave (Yale University Press, 1999)

    Alvin Kernan, author of In Plato's Cave and longtime professor at Princeton, reflects on his tenure in the Ivy League, specifically on the student movements of the 1960s and the influence of existentialism at this same time. The student movement pushed democracy to its extreme as it tried to democratize every aspect of the university life. Kernan believes that this push showed that radical democracy and education are antithetical. Kernan compares the student movements in Europe with those in America, contrasting the political nature of those in Europe to the more existential nature of those in America. Kernan further comments on the feeling that existentialism gave to the university. Its stress on the freedom of the human over fate or history fit the post war mode of the country but in the end was quite oppressive.

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    Erik Davis on myth, magic, and mysticism in the age of information

    TechGnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information (Harmony Books, 1998)

    Erik Davis, author of TechGnosis, recognizes a Gnostic tendency in the contemporary understanding that information is an entity independent of a religious component. The emphasis on the acquisition of information leads modern society to embrace a disregard of matter and a hope for a utopian, technology-based community where there exists a "high velocity conversation between mind and matter." However, this utopia is an exclusive community, where only those who can afford the high cost of technology benefit while the less fortunate live with the consequences of the environmental destruction caused by rapid technological development.

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    Marva Dawn on teaching children about being the Church

    Is It A Lost Cause?: Having the Heart of God for the Church's Children (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997)

    Marva Dawn, author of Is It A Lost Cause?: Having the Heart of God for the Church's Children, is concerned that children raised in the Church frequently make the same life decisions as those raised outside the Church. Dawn sees the root of this problem as the failure of the Church to act as a consecrated community. When the Church is seen not as a vibrant community but as a weekly activity, youth education becomes a preventive device for parents to inoculate children from the dangers of modern society, rather than an active engagement in an alternative way of life.

Part 2

  • Description

    Wendy Shalit on the lost virtue of female modesty

    A Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue (Free Press, 1999)

    Wendy Shalit, author of A Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue, discusses modesty in the context of the feminist movement's history which initially promoted modesty and only later promoted androgyny. Shalit argues that this androgyny makes young girls into victims because it removes sex from the context of obligation and trust and exalts promiscuity. In the context of promiscuity as natural, women lose the leverage and power inherent in modesty, the power to say no and to keep sex within the context of commitment.

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    Marva Dawn on sexual education and the Church's children

    Sexual Character: Beyond Technique to Intimacy (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1993)

    Marva Dawn, author of Sexual Character: Beyond Technique to Intimacy, speaks of the dearth of wisdom about sexuality given to children in the Church. Dawn says that the Church should be structured so children have models of intimate friendships across age and gender lines. Children need this to compensate for the lack of intimacy due to the influence of technology. The Church must counter the culture's message, which says that sexual intimacy is the only intimacy available to young people. The lack of good sexual education in the church shocks Dawn; no one, in her estimation, is communicating to children God's good ideas on faithfulness, intimacy, and friendship.

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    Leon Podles on why men are often alienated from Christianity

    The Church Impotent: the Feminization of Christianity (Spence Publishing Company, 1999)

    Leon Podles, author of The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity, believes the Church has created barriers which cause men to view the church as a strictly feminine institution. Podles traces this trend to the Middle Ages when Bernard of Clarveau personalized the metaphor of the Church as the Bride of Christ. Thus, each individual was essentially feminine before God. This has only been compounded by an Aristotelian understanding of gender, where submission is the primary trait of femininity. Podles feels that obedience is a masculine trait in the Scriptures. Biblical masculinity must combine the fruits of the spirit with strength in order to protect the weak. The Church must come to understand this and not eschew but correct masculinity.

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    Dan Blazer on the incomplete conversation between psychiatry and Christianity

    Freud vs. God: How Psychiatry Lost Its Soul and Christianity Lost Its Mind (InterVarsity Press, 1998)

    Dan Blazer, author of Freud vs. God: How Psychiatry Lost Its Soul and Christianity Lost Its Mind, comments on the relationship between the Church and psychiatry, the reductionary nature of psychiatry, and the reality of most Christian counseling. The Church has come to an uneasy and immature peace with psychiatry in which it does not understand the field; many Christians still think it is dominated by Freud. Instead, modern psychiatry has become more medical and scientific which has made the field more honest but less focused on narrative. For Blazer, this is a sign of his field's reductionary nature, which believes that emotions can be reduced to molecular or genetic phenomena. Blazer believes that suffering should be understood within a broader theoanthropology.