MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 60

Guests on Volume 60: David Naugle, on the origins of the term "worldview," and the spiritual and religious significance of "worldview thinking" for Christians; D. G. Hart, on the distinctions between evangelicalism and confessional Protestantism; Dermot Quinn, on the historical wisdom of Christopher Dawson, and the skepticism of contemporary historians; Russell Hittinger, on how a right to privacy emerged and evolved in American constitutional law and on how a landmark federal court decision addressed physician-assisted suicide; Leon Kass, on why a commitment to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is not enough to protect human dignity; and James Howard Kunstler, on how designing spaces that respect cars but not pedestrians has made so much of America unlovable if not unlivable.

Part 1

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    David Naugle on the origins of the term "worldview," and the spiritual and religious significance of "worldview thinking" for Christians

    Worldview: The History of a Concept (Eerdmans, 2002)

    Professor David Naugle defines the term worldview and discusses why it is important for Christians to cultivate a specifically Christian worldview. Naugle is author of Worldview: The History of a Concept. The definition of worldview that has since become standard developed in the late 1700s; it is, says Naugle, "the self-realized productive and conscious way of apprehending and interpreting the universe of beings." Naugle mentions the influences which shape a specifically Christian worldview. He also notes why it is important—particularly at this moment in time—for Christians to be deliberate and judicial about which influences are informing their worldviews.

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    D. G. Hart on the distinctions between evangelicalism and confessional Protestantism

    The Lost Soul of American Protestantism (Rowman & Littlefield, 2002)

    Historian D. G. Hart compares Protestant evangelicalism with the historic Church. Hart is author of The Lost Soul of American Protestantism. Throughout history the Church has been concerned with propagating the faith for future generations. Protestant evangelicalism, however, which has developed relatively recently, concerns itself more with an individual's personal experience of the faith. Hart describes how this shift in emphasis occurred, and how it affects both the Church and its role in believers' lives.

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    Dermot Quinn on the historical wisdom of Christopher Dawson, and the skepticism of contemporary historians

    Dynamics of World History (3rd ed., ISI Books, 2002)

    Professor Dermot Quinn discusses historian Christopher Dawson (1889-1970) and how he defined the job of the historian. Quinn is editor of the third edition of Dawson's Dynamics of World History. Quinn explains that Dawson expected historians to be wise and morally serious when looking for the deeper, spiritual, meanings of everyday events. Dawson believed that everyday events are spiritually significant because he accepted Saint Augustine's idea of the City of God and the City of Man: these two cities compete for man's allegiance, and the events of history manifest that competition. Quinn attends to why Dawson has fallen out of favor with historians presently, and why it is important to recover his work.

Part 2

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    Russell Hittinger on how a right to privacy emerged and evolved in American constitutional law

    The First Grace: Rediscovering the Natural Law in a Post-Christian World (ISI Books, 2002)

    Professor Russell Hittinger discusses American legal philosophy and natural law theory. Hittinger is author of The First Grace: Rediscovering the Natural Law in a Post-Christian World. From the founding of the country until late in the twentieth century natural law held a prominent place in American law; the Founders, presidents, and even Supreme Court justices consistently appealed to the laws of nature and nature's God in positive law decisions. In more recent decades, however, legal decisions have been guided mainly by a concern to preserve each individual's right to privacy. Hittinger explains how that concern, which is characteristic of secular liberalism, became prominent and what happened to natural law theory in the meantime.

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    Leon Kass on why a commitment to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is not enough to protect human dignity

    Life, Liberty, and the Defense of Dignity: The Challenge for Bioethics (Encounter Books, 2002)

    "What's really needed is an account that does justice to the concreteness of our lives, the embodied character of our lives, the interconnectedness of our lives, and not just the dignity that we have because we can reason and make choices."
    Leon Kass

    Professor and bioethicist Leon Kass discusses the modern biomedical enterprise, the principles on which America is founded, and human dignity. Kass is author of Life, Liberty, and the Defense of Dignity: The Challenge for Bioethics. Modern biomedicine, he says, is mainly concerned with extending life indefinitely and eliminating all the burdens that are normally concurrent with it. America's founding principles, he notes, used to be narrowly interpreted as political ideals but are now the framework for nearly all moral discourse. Kass explains how both of these realities are possible because society is functioning without a rich notion of human dignity.

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    James Howard Kunstler on how designing spaces that respect cars but not pedestrians has made so much of America unlovable if not unlivable

    The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition (Free Press, 2001)

    Suburban America is smeared with bad architecture that renders our living spaces dehumanized says writer James Howard Kunstler. Kunstler, who is author of The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, has written several books on the causes and consequences of poorly planned, poorly designed places. He states that during the middle of the twentieth century urban planners replaced the knowledge of the culture of civic design with "little more than highway engineering geometries" that lacked the artistry and humanity of the former. The new system was designed for motorists and did not account for pedestrians, which is part of the reason why suburbia seems so alienating and monotonous. Kunstler explains why the suburbs are "cartoons of country houses set in a cartoon of the countryside."

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    Russell Hittinger from the bonus track of the CD edition, on how a landmark federal court decision addressed physician-assisted suicide

    The First Grace: Rediscovering the Natural Law in a Post-Christian World (ISI Books, 2002)

    "Secular liberalism of our day and age is forcing us to confront what the real bottom line is: what kind of private consensual act cannot be performed, and for what reason?"
    Russell Hittinger

    Professor Russell Hittinger discusses physician assisted suicide and what legal decisions regarding it indicate about the beliefs fashionable in society. Hittinger is author of The First Grace: Rediscovering the Natural Law in a Post-Christian World. He mentions the 1996 case Compassion in Dying v. Washington (also known as Glucksberg v. Washington), the battle over its ruling about physician assisted suicide, and the ultimate decision that such use of lethal force is constitutional. Hittinger notes how that precedent would affect the State if it wished to prohibit lethal force in other circumstances. He explains why state governments should have a monopoly on such force, and how secular liberalism threatens the role of the State.