((released 2006-07-01) (handle mh-80-m) (supplement ))
Guests on Volume 80: Stephen A. McKnight on The Religious Foundations of Francis Bacon’s Thought; Tim Morris and Don Petcher on science, Christology, and why segregating nature from supernature doesn’t do justice to either; Vigen Guroian on the mystical character of fragrance and on why working in his garden is an imitation of the Master Gardener; Paul Valliere on Orthodox theology’s engagement with questions concerning law, politics, and human nature, and on the ideas of Vladimir Soloviev (1853-1900); Vigen Guroian on the importance of personality and community in the thought of Nicholas Berdyaev (1874-1948); and Calvin Stapert on the affirmation of Creation and intimations of transcendence in the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Professor emeritus Stephen A. McKnight discusses his book The Religious Foundations of Francis Bacon's Thought and the term that is essential for understanding what Bacon (1561-1626) thought about his own work: instauration. Bacon is credited as the developer of the modern scientific method and was influenced greatly by scientists from the Renaissance era. He understood himself as a man with a religious vocation, states McKnight. Lost knowledge about how the universe functions was being restored to humanity during his lifetime, he thought, and it was his task to discover and demonstrate how that restoration was occurring in nature and how people might put the knowledge to use to have dominion over nature. McKnight notes that “instauration” had rich connotations for those reading the scientist during Bacon’s era.
Professors Tim Morris and Don Petcher discuss their book Science and Grace: God's Reign in the Natural Sciences and the perceived chasm between science and religion. They explain that many Christians who study or practice the former do so thinking that religion is not concerned with creation, but only with the salvation of souls. Morris and Petcher explore the flaws of this understanding and how it affects the practice of science. They note that one of the main themes in Scripture is that of Jesus Christ as mediator of both redemption and creation. If Christians approached the discipline understanding that, they explain, their work or perceptions would be shaped by an attitude different from the one that currently prevails in the field.
Gardener and Orthodox theologian Vigen Guroian discusses the lessons he has learned gardening. Guroian, author of The Fragrance of God, says that he started gardening for practical purposes — not for the love or discipline of it — shortly after his wedding. Over the years his garden has taught him many lessons about beauty and God. Now, states Guroian, he enjoys spending time in the garden more than he enjoys its produce. Guroian mentions what he has learned about fragrance while working in his gardens.
Professor Paul Valliere discusses the themes of his two essays published in The Teachings of Modern Christianity on Law, Politics, and Human Nature, Vol. 1. The first of the two is titled “Introduction to the Modern Orthodox Tradition,” the second of the two “Vladimir Soloviev (1853-1900).” Valliere explains why—as compared to the Western Church—the Orthodox tradition had a dearth before the modern era of meditations on church, state, and society. Soloviev, he says, is one of the modern thinkers within the tradition who developed a philosophy for the public square. Soloviev's thought emphasizes that healthy societies correlate three separate orders: the material, that of law and justice, and the mystical — or love-inspired — order.
Professor Vigen Guroian discusses the work of Nicholas Berdyaev, an Orthodox philosopher who wrote about society. Guroian’s essay “Nicholas Berdyaev (1874-1948)” is published in The Teachings of Modern Christianity on Law, Politics, and Human Nature, Vol. 1. Guroian compares Berdyaev’s work to the works of Western philosophers during his time. He explains how Berdyaev’s philosophy of human beings, which is known as personalism, is different from the others’, known as existentialism. Guroian also notes the role that law plays in Berdyaev’s vision for the body politic.
Professor of music Calvin Stapert discusses Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s music and what theologian Karl Barth (1886-1968) thought about it. Stapert wrote an article about Mozart (1756-1791) for the April 2006 issue of Theology Today titled “Does God Manifest Himself in the World in Trickles of Music?” Barth, says Stapert, would answer yes and point to Mozart’s music, which is full of seemingly contradictory realities but which is always ultimately directed towards light, resolution, harmony, and reconciliation. Barth’s book about Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, was reprinted this year in honor of the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth. Stapert notes that Mozart’s music demonstrates both the sheer goodness of being and the truth that people were made to take delight in — and play in — creation.
Professor of music history Calvin Stapert discusses the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) and its relation to the Transcendent. Stapert wrote an article in honor of the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth, which was published in the April 2006 issue of Theology Today, titled “Does God Manifest Himself in the World in Trickles of Music?” Stapert notes that Mozart’s music does bear “traces of transcendence,” and that it can be difficult to appreciate the music without idolizing it or its composer. Gratitude and adoration for the God who gives such music are key for striking the balance. Stapert names the marks of the Divine that appear in Mozart’s compositions and explains how they compare to the works of Romantic composers.