MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 49

Guests on Volume 49: David Lyon, on the reconfiguration of religion against the backdrop of communication technologies and consumerism; Christopher Wolfe, on homosexuality in American public life; Patrick Fagan, on how sexuality became separated from parenthood; Joseph E. Davis, on the struggle to preserve the self in a fragmenting era; Morris Berman, on The Twilight of American Culture; Frank Burch Brown, on Good Taste, Bad Taste, and Christian Taste: Aesthetics in Religious Life; Robert K. Johnston, on neglected opportunities for film and theology to interact; and Ralph C. Wood, on the peculiar heroism of Frodo Baggins of Bag End.

This is a back issue. Subscribe for immediate access to the current volume. Alternatively, you may purchase back issues or log in to access your library.

Part 1

  • Description

    David Lyon on the reconfiguration of religion against the backdrop of communication technologies and consumerism

    Jesus in Disneyland: Religion in Postmodern Times (Polity Press, 2000)

    David Lyon sees the amplification of the modern in aspects of the postmodern, most notably in the pervasiveness of consumer capitalism and new information and communications media, and is concerned for how these developments affect understandings of the self, authority, and meaning. As consumerism, for example, becomes a more central part of life, its emphasis on individual choice makes such notions as the common good increasingly implausible.

  • Description

    Christopher Wolfe on homosexuality in American public life

    Same-Sex Matters: The Challenge of Homosexuality (Spence Publishing Company, 2000)

    Recent editor of two books on homosexuality, Christopher Wolfe believes the most important issue facing homosexuality as it concerns American public life to be not AIDS but rather how homosexuality impacts traditional understandings of marriage, family, and sex. Wolfe points out the many social problems that may be linked to the breakdown of the family structure. This structure is undermined, however, not only by homosexual ideas of sex, but also by those of heterosexuals, particularly as manifested in the growing acceptability of divorce. While Wolfe believes there exist innate norms which regulate sex morally, he acknowledges the difficulty of identifying and implementing such norms.

  • Description

    Patrick Fagan on how sexuality became separated from parenthood

    Same-Sex Matters: The Challenge of Homosexuality (Spence Publishing Company, 2000)

    Patrick Fagan contends that the separation of childbearing from sexuality and marriage has resulted in most children being born into "a culture of massive rejection." Personal freedom is valued above life. Lacking any unified understanding of human nature which might mediate between these values, our society is either working to build a culture of love, marriage, and life, or a culture of "untrammeled freedom," exemplified by death, rejection, and alienation. But Fagan rejects this "untrammeled freedom," arguing that freedom is a tool, one whose misuse is costing us dearly.

  • Description

    Joseph E. Davis on the struggle to preserve the self in a fragmenting era

    Identity and Social Change (Transaction Publishers, 2000)

    Joseph E. Davis, editor of Identity and Social Change, finds fault with the reigning social scientific understanding of the self in which Enlightenment and Romantic views alike are deconstructed to produce a man altogether devoid of essence, a being entirely the product of his social environment. From a Christian perspective, Davis objects that the deconstructionist understanding hides or downplays the moral nature of the self, lacks any telos, the very thing which provides a sense of self, and denies the role of the moral community.

Part 2

  • Description

    Morris Berman on The Twilight of American Culture

    The Twilight of American Culture (W. W. Norton and Company, 2000)

    Citing that 60 percent of Americans have never read a single book, cultural historian Morris Berman is concerned for the life of the mind in America. Not only have Americans forgotten or never learned the great works of Western culture, Berman charges that people have forgotten that they have ever known these things, seldom realizing what has been lost. Cash value is now the only value, and there is much hostility to the idea of education being an end in itself. Berman identifies a "misplaced egalitarianism" in the classroom, a belief that we are all co-learners which has led to a crisis of authority in instruction.

  • Description

    Frank Burch Brown on Good Taste, Bad Taste, and Christian Taste: Aesthetics in Religious Life

    Good Taste, Bad Taste, and Christian Taste: Aesthetics in Religious Life (Oxford, 2000)

    Frank Burch Brown sees an intimate connection between the religious and the aesthetic. The aesthetic is experienced as religious in both public and private worship, in a cathedral as well as at the concert hall and in one's living room. In assessing the aesthetic, Brown follows the lead of Nicholas Walterstorff, considering the context in which art appears. Though perhaps beautiful in its own right, a light pop melody is a poor match for the words of a solemn hymn.

  • Description

    Robert K. Johnston on neglected opportunities for film and theology to interact

    Reel Spirituality: Theology and Film in Dialogue (Baker Academic, 2000)

    Robert K. Johnston believes that movies have the potential to convey God's truth through depictions of life or creation. They can also offer visions of wholeness that transcend limitation, even if only momentarily. With film as a primary means of communication in culture, Johnston advocates serious and thoughtful discussion about film, particularly in the Church where, historically, it has not occurred. Instead of ignoring Hollywood and avoiding films, Hollywood's output must be recognized and engaged as a medium of truth-telling and a context for experiencing meaning.

  • Description

    Ralph C. Wood on the peculiar heroism of Frodo Baggins of Bag End

    The Gospel According to Tolkien: Visions of the Kingdom in Middle-earth was written and published (by Westminster John Knox Press) after this interview.

    Since his first reading of The Lord of the Rings in the 1960s, Ralph Wood has been drawn to J. R. R. Tolkien's moral Middle-earth, which is ordered by heroism, friendship, loyalty, and hope. Tolkien's pre-Christian world is imbued with Christian virtues and concerns, and is host to a quest, which is the opposite of an adventure where the participants set out seeking excitement and the venture changes them little, if at all, in the end. Only the ties of friendship, loyalty, and hope found in Tolkien's world enable the hobbits to complete their quest and go where no one else can.