Volume 46

Guests on Volume 46: E. Michael Jones, on how horror films combat the assumptions of the Enlightenment; D. G. Hart, on The University Gets Religion: Religious Studies in American Higher Education; Amy & Leon Kass, on training young people to imagine what love looks like; John Leax, on the challenges of wise “caretaking” in a fallen world; Richard Wilbur, on the ways in which words add “articulateness” to experience; Roger Lundin, on Richard Wilbur’s commitment to the reality of creation; and Ted Libbey, on the intricate, theologically-inspired structure of Bach’s B Minor Mass.

Part 1

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    E. Michael Jones on how horror films combat the assumptions of the Enlightenment

    E. Michael Jones's book on horror in fiction and film is Monsters from the Id: the Rise of Horror in Fiction and Film (Spence Publishing Company, 2000).

    E. Michael Jones, publisher of the magazine Culture Wars, believes that horror fiction and films are an implicit rejection of certain key assumptions of the Enlightenment. The essence of the Enlightenment, according to Jones, is control and the manipulation of human passions. The rise in popularity of the genre of horror in our culture makes it an example of a "counter-Enlightenment." Horror films testify that there are uncontrollable forces at work in the world, specifically that human passions and sexuality are not simply routine "scientific" procedures.

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    D. G. Hart on The University Gets Religion: Religious Studies in American Higher Education

    The University Gets Religion: Religious Studies in American Higher Education (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999)

    Historian D. G. Hart discusses how the American university has struggled to identify what place religious studies have in the institution, and examines the peculiar difficulties of doing religious scholarship within the bounds of secular institutions. From the 1920s until the 1960s, the discipline of religious studies in the university was understood to serve a broader cultural purpose. This changed in the 1960s, according to Hart, as Americans realized that the American way is different from the Protestant way.

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    Amy & Leon Kass on training young people to imagine what love looks like

    Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar: Readings on Courting and Marrying (University of Notre Dame Press, 2000).

    For years in seminars and classes at the University of Chicago, Leon and Amy Kass have examined and observed how courtship has been understood in the West. Love and courtship, according to the Kasses, are not intellectual matters but rather concern poise, the heart, and imagination. The Kasses believe that many young people today are "souls without longing," unaware of how a delay of gratification can allow the imagination to flourish.

    Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar includes excerpts from a diverse range of writers, including Homer, Herodotus, Shakespeare, Aquinas, Erasmus, Jane Austen, Tolstoy, and Kierkegaard.

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    John Leax on the challenges of wise "caretaking" in a fallen world

    Out Walking: Reflections on Our Place in the Natural World (BakerBooks, 2000)

    Poet John Leax examines the relationship between wisdom and attentiveness to the order of creation. The ethic of stewardship, according to Leax, cannot be ignored; we are all responsible for actions beyond ourselves, which is problematic for Leax because it is difficult to sort out our multiple motives.

Part 2

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    Richard Wilbur on the ways in which words add "articulateness" to experience

    Mayflies: New Poems and Translations (Harcourt, 2000)

    The second Poet Laureate of the United States and twice the winner of the Pulitzer prize, poet Richard Wilbur discusses the important public and private role of poetry as an alternate way of knowing the world. Poetry is the most complete form of writing, according to Wilbur, because it allows us to "talk with all of our selves, and employ all our ways of knowing." Wilbur sees a timidity towards words as a tragic state, because "to not be verbal about our terrors is to run from them."

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    Roger Lundin on Richard Wilbur's commitment to the reality of creation

    Richard Wilbur's New and Collected Poems (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1989) is the most complete collection of Wilbur's work.

    In his book The Culture of Interpretation, critic Roger Lundin calls the poet Richard Wilbur a poet who is truly anti-Gnostic, as he never presents the illusion that salvation would lie outside of our life in the created order. The most important theme in Wilbur's work, according to Lundin, is the strong affirmation of the complete goodness of ordinary life.

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    Ted Libbey on the intricate, theologically inspired structure of Bach's B Minor Mass

    There are numerous recordings of Bach's B-Minor Mass. The excerpts heard on this issue of the Journal were from the performance by the Netherlands Chamber Choir and the Orchestra of the 18th Century, conducted by Franz Bruggen (Philips, 426 238-2).

    Music critic Ted Libbey says that J. S. Bach's Mass in B Minor has long been considered Bach's greatest musical legacy, and represents the totality of the accomplishments of his entire career. The piece, with its arch structure and intricately designed theological message, allowed Bach to prove himself a scientist of music, according to Libbey, or a "composer of the highest order."