MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 73

Guests on Volume 73: Richard John Neuhaus, Nigel Cameron, Carlos F. Gomez, and Michael Uhlmann, on the meaning and value of human life, the vocation of medicine, the logic of autonomous individualism, and the temptation of suicide and euthanasia; Patrick Carey, on the perceptive (and peregrinating) thought of Orestes Brownson; John W. O'Malley, on the prophetic, academic, humanistic, and artistic vectors of Western culture; Patricia Owen, on what makes good children's books and on how the Newbery Medal winners have changed over time; Susan Srigley, on the sacramental and incarnational fiction of Flannery O'Connor; and Ralph C. Wood, on Flannery O'Connor as "hill-billy Thomist" and sympathizer with backwoods religion.

Intro
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

    Richard John Neuhaus et al. on the meaning and value of human life, the vocation of medicine, the logic of autonomous individualism, and the temptation of suicide and euthanasia

    Pope John Paul II died April 2, 2005

    The deaths of Terri Schiavo (1963-2005) and Pope John Paul II (1920-2005) raised questions about moral, ethical, and legal concerns tied to end-of-life issues, questions that several guests have addressed on previous issues of the Journal. In order to identify and clarify these concerns, some of the guests' interviews have been republished in part; the interviews of Father Richard John Neuhaus, bioethicist Nigel Cameron, physician Carlos F. Gomez, and legal scholar Michael Uhlmann offer wisdom for thinking through the Schiavo and Pope John Paul II cases, and also for contemplating other similar matters. Neuhaus and Cameron discuss how modern abilities to "take" and "make" life threaten the age-old understanding and definition of human nature, and suggest that society, in order to retain and strengthen that understanding, needs to reclaim the notion of the inherent dignity of human life. Gomez notes that the state has had, traditionally, a vested interest in protecting and preserving vulnerable and innocent human life but, in recent years, that interest has waned. Uhlmann confirms Gomez's observations, explaining that America's legal institutions, the Supreme Court included, have neglected legally protecting innocent human life as they have been trying to accommodate a modern philosophy that elevates individual freedom and autonomy above other goods.

  • Description

    Patrick Carey on the perceptive (and peregrinating) thought of Orestes Brownson

    Orestes A. Brownson: American Religious Weathervane (Eerdmans, 2004)

    Patrick Carey, professor and author of Orestes A. Brownson: American Religious Weathervane explains why Brownson could be likened to a weathervane. Brownson (1803-1876) was an American intellectual who wrote essays, tracts, and magazine articles on matters of philosophy, theology, and politics. Late in life he converted to Roman Catholicism, but he ascribed to other religious doctrines before being received—he was first a Presbyterian, but then wandered through Methodism, Universalism, Unitarianism, and Transcendentalism on the way to becoming Roman Catholic. While Brownson's allegiances in his religious convictions did shift over the years, his allegiances in his work only seemed to shift; his thought is dialectic, states Carey, and has continuity even as one side of it is emphasized while the other is not. For example, although there were times when he wrote about the necessity for freedom instead of authority and order, and other times when he wrote about the necessity for the latter instead of the former, he actually always believed that they both need the other if either is to thrive without becoming distorted.

  • Description

    John W. O'Malley on the prophetic, academic, humanistic, and artistic vectors of Western culture

    Four Cultures of the West (Harvard, 2004)

    Embedded in the history of the West are four distinct styles of thought and expression that explain much about the tensions at work in today's culture. Professor John W. O'Malley discusses these four styles and his book, The Four Cultures of the West. The first of the four cultures, he says, the prophetic, makes proclamations about the need for social change; the last of the four is that of art and performance. The second culture, which is keen on argument and analysis, thrives on perpetual questioning and finds its home in the academy and the professions. It is intent on pursuing progress and scientific and technological knowledge, O'Malley states, and has co-opted culture three, the literary and humanistic culture of poetry, rhetoric, and service to the public good.

Part 2

  • Description

    Patricia Owen on what makes good children's books and on how the Newbery Medal winners have changed over time

    Patricia Owen discusses several Newbery Medal winners in her interview, one of which is Karen Hesse's Out of the Dust (Scholastic, Inc., 1998).

    Children's book critic Patricia Owen describes the major literary award for children's books, how winners of the award have changed in character since its inception, and what to keep in mind when choosing a book for a child. The Newbery Medal, awarded yearly beginning in 1922, honors children's books for their literary merit. Early winners of the award portrayed strong communities, with their protagonists either settling into a community during the tale, or already belonging to one at the beginning of the story; but starting in the 1970s and 1980s, says Owen, the books became more individualistic in tone, portraying their protagonists as separate from communities and not in need of others to make it through troublesome times. Owen states that medal winners are supposed to be appropriate for children ages nine to fourteen, but not all of them are. Although they all are literarily excellent, some are more appropriate for older teenagers than they are for pre- and early teenagers.

  • Description

    Susan Srigley on the sacramental and incarnational fiction of Flannery O'Connor

    Flannery O'Connor's Sacramental Art (Notre Dame, 2004)

    Professor Susan Srigley discusses the ethical vision at the heart of author Flannery O'Connor's work. In Flannery O'Connor's Sacramental Art Srigley notes that O'Connor's fiction is, in part, trying to make sense of why people act as they do. In order to understand this, she depicts how they interact with the world and people around them. Such concrete realities as these, she understood, point to the divine, mysterious source of creation that evokes actions and reactions from people and which is manifested in the material. Because O'Connor's work acknowledges that the spiritual is present in the material, it is called sacramental, says Srigley; and it is known as incarnational, she adds, because it understands that the spiritual can only be known through the physical.

  • Description

    Ralph C. Wood on Flannery O'Connor as "hill-billy Thomist" and sympathizer with backwoods religion

    Flannery O'Connor and the Christ-Haunted South (Eerdmans, 2004)

    Professor Ralph Wood discusses his introduction to Flannery O'Connor's fiction and his book, Flannery O'Connor and the Christ-Haunted South. When Wood first read O'Connor in college, he was dually impressed with how she was funny and "devoutly Christian," and with how she turned the world he knew—the world of the Baptist, rural, fundamentalist South—into world-class literature. Wood identifies the dominant mode of O'Connor's work, and he distinguishes between satire and humor. Satire is laughter at another, and while it does exist in O'Connor's work, she is more humorous than satiric. In other words, explains Wood, she spends more time laughing at herself (and characters who are similar to her) than at others.

  • Description

    John W. O'Malley from the bonus track for Volume 73, on additional sections of The Four Cultures of the West.

    Four Cultures of the West (Harvard, 2004)

    Embedded in the history of the West are four distinct styles of thought and expression that explain much about the tensions at work in today's culture. Professor John W. O'Malley discusses these four styles and his book, The Four Cultures of the West. The first of the four cultures, he says, the prophetic, makes proclamations about the need for social change; the last of the four is that of art and performance. The second culture, which is keen on argument and analysis, thrives on perpetual questioning and finds its home in the academy and the professions. It is intent on pursuing progress and scientific and technological knowledge, O'Malley states, and has co-opted culture three, the literary and humanistic culture of poetry, rhetoric, and service to the public good.