Volume 41

Guests on Volume 41: Harry Blamires, on resisting secularism; David Healy, on antidepressants and the concept of disease; Christine Pohl, on the modern challenges to the practice of hospitality; Paul Gutjahr, on the changing place of the Bible in American culture; Francis Fukuyama, on human nature and the shape of moral community; Paul Corby Finney, on visual arts and the Calvinist tradition; and J. A. C. Redford, on Christmas Music and the Incarnation.

Part 1

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    Harry Blamires on resisting secularism

    The Post-Christian Mind: Exposing Its Destructive Agenda (Servant Publications, 1999)

    Harry Blamires, author of The Christian Mind and The Post-Christian Mind, speaks about his work as both a theologian and literary professor. Blamires sees the maintenance of the purity of doctrine as the chief duty of the Church even above proclamation. The contemporary Church's failure to give doctrine a high priority has left thinking-Christians at odds with ignorant Christians and at one with many secular thinkers. Thus, Blamires has encouraged Christians to be thinkers and to discern the preconceptions which found modern culture and are antagonistic to Christian faith. Blamires comments on the secularization of British culture and the erosion of the Judeo-Christian basis for moral order. He also comments on his work in literature and the influence that his studies with C. S. Lewis had on his understanding of literature.

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    David Healy on antidepressants and the concept of disease

    David Healy's book, The Anti-Depressant Era, was published by Harvard University Press in 1997.

    David Healy discusses the contemporary understanding of depression and the treatment of depression through medication. Healy traces the historical understanding of depression and its treatment, and explains how and why pharmaceutical companies have targeted people with symptoms of depression as potential consumers.

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    Paul Gutjahr on the changing place of the Bible in American culture

    An American Bible: A History of the Good Book in the United States (Stanford University Press, 1999)

    Paul Gutjahr, author of An American Bible: A History of the Good Book in the United States, 1777-1880, speaks about the effect of the publishing industry on the place of the Bible in American culture. As the publishing industry grew and its offerings expanded, other options replaced the Bible as the seminal American text. Gutjahr gives a short history of Bible publication in the U.S. which predates this phenomenon. In 1777, the first Bible was printed in America; however, the length and the complexity of the text made it impossible for many small printers to produce it. In 1828, the American Bible Society, in order to achieve its goal of a Bible in every American home, introduced technology that permitted mass production of the Bible. Gutjahr discusses the monopoly which ABS gained.

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    Christine Pohl on the modern challenges to the practice of hospitality

    Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999)

    Christine Pohl, author of Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition, speaks about the decline and possible recovery of the practice of hospitality within the Christian tradition. Christians practiced hospitality throughout the first seventeen centuries of the Church as a part of Christian discipleship, yet in the eighteenth century hospitality disappeared from the moral language due to its association with the extravagant entertainment of the royal court. The first century of the Church saw the most interesting period in the practice of hospitality. Church leaders in the fourth and fifth century spoke of this earlier period in the Church's history. Yet, it was this later period, when institutions were introduced, that moved the practice of hospitality away from the home and into larger institutions. Pohl says that the contemporary challenge to the Christian who desires to practice hospitality is that the home remains empty during much of the day and extended hospitality to the needy cannot happen in an empty home. Pohl also comments on the transient nature of many in our society, making most people newcomers and therefore less hospitable.

Part 2

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    Francis Fukuyama on human nature and the shape of moral community

    The Great Disruption: Human Nature and the Reconstitution of Social Order (Free Press, 1999)

    Francis Fukuyama, author of The Great Disruption: Human Nature and the Reconstruction of Social Order, argues against certain thinkers like John Gray who emphasize the culturally destructive aspects of capitalism. He admits that there are destructive forces in capitalism but explains how capitalism also replaces the social structures which it destroys. Fukuyama comments on communities and their need for shared rules and authority. He sees in contemporary culture that people are beginning to feel the loneliness and disorientation which a life free from rules brings. Fukuyama also speaks to the role of technology in the dissolution of communities.

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    Paul Corby Finney on visual arts and the Calvinist tradition

    Seeing Beyond the Word: Visual Arts and the Calvinist Tradition (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999)

    Paul Corby Finney, author of Seeing Beyond the Word: Visual Arts and the Calvinist Tradition, speaks about the art that resulted from the Calvinist movement. The mandate from the Old Testament to preserve the majesty and transcendence of God centered Calvinist concerns in the area of visual representation. This mandate often caused the secularization of pictures because creation often cannot be harmonized with these attributes of God. If an image compromised this concern, it would be repressed. Thus, instead of representing spiritual images in the visual medium, Calvinists focused on landscape images in which they saw the power and majesty of God on display.

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    J. A. C. Redford on Christmas Music and the Incarnation

    J. A. C. Redford's autobiography has the same name as his Christmas cantata: Welcome All Wonders: A Composer's Journey (Baker Books, 1997)

    J. A. C. Redford, composer, listens and comments on his piece, Welcome All Wonders, a Christmas choral work in five movements. The interview features equal parts of music and interaction with Redford. Redford explains his selection of the poems and their content which he set to music. Redford says that his intent in writing this piece was for the audience to have joy. Redford goes on to speak about the anti-Gnostic nature of the Incarnation and the reaction he received by many contemporary Gnostics to his piece's stress on the goodness of the physical realm. Redford ends his comments with some theological reflections on singing and the Incarnation.