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MARS HILL AUDIO Reprint 21

Christopher Lasch, "Conservatism against Itself"

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(From First Things, April 1990)

In this early article from First Things, historian Christopher Lasch poses the question of whether cultural conservatism is compatible with capitalism. If, as Lasch argues, conservatism is defined by a respect for limits — that human freedom has constraints imposed upon it by nature, history, human fallibility, and “original sin” — then the unrelenting and insatiable quest for ever-increasing standards of comfort that capitalism encourages is completely at odds with conservative values. Despite nineteenth-century attempts to bolster the family as the primary means of curbing the large-scale transfer of “private vices” to “public virtues” implied in liberal economic theory, the effects of twentieth-century capitalism have only underscored how vulnerable the family is when the integrity of its surrounding local institutions is destroyed. Also included in this article is an account of lower-middle class versus upper-middle class cultural values as well as the alternative — though now largely unheard of — economic approaches to liberal capitalism advanced by the distributists and syndicalists. 42 minutes. $2.

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 118

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Guests on Volume 118: Gilbert Meilaender, on the ethical questions raised by anti-aging research, especially its most extreme forms in the "transhumanist" movement; Ron Highfield, on why the modern assumptions about personal identity, freedom, and human dignity create prejudices against the Gospel's account of God and the self; Mark Mitchell, on why gratitude and stewardship should be seen as fundamental political postures; Daniel M. Bell, Jr., on how capitalism nurtures the assumption of the autonomous self; Helen Rhee, on the centrality of almsgiving to Christian identity in the early Church; and Peter Brown, on how the early Church's wrestling with the questions of wealth and poverty steered a course between radical asceticism and careless indulgence.

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 95

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Guests on Volume 95: Stewart Davenport, on how nineteenth-century Christians separated the moral and practical aspects of economic life; William T. Cavanaugh, on how theology and economics are necessarily intertwined and on how a larger understanding of the meaning of "freedom" would change our economic actions; J. Matthew Bonzo & Michael R. Stevens, on Wendell Berry's concern for the dislocating and fragmenting forces in modern life; Craig Gay, on how language—specifically the spoken word—is central to our human experience; Eugene Peterson, on how Jesus' use of ambiguous language encouraged active spiritual engagement; and Barry Hankins, on how the late Francis Schaeffer moved from being a defensive fundamentalist to a prophet of cultural engagement.

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 41

Guests on Volume 41: Harry Blamires, on resisting secularism; David Healy, on antidepressants and the concept of disease; Christine Pohl, on the modern challenges to the practice of hospitality; Paul Gutjahr, on the changing place of the Bible in American culture; Francis Fukuyama, on human nature and the shape of moral community; Paul Corby Finney, on visual arts and the Calvinist tradition; and J. A. C. Redford, on Christmas Music and the Incarnation.

MARS HILL AUDIO Journal

Volume 40

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Guests on Volume 40: Joseph Epstein, on writing essays and education through magazines; John Gray, on the cultural contradictions of global capitalism; Kenneth R. Craycraft, Jr., on why the First Amendment doesn't really protect Christian liberty; William T. Pizzi, on Trials without Truth: Why Our System of Criminal Trials Has Become an Expensive Failure and What We Need to Do to Rebuild It; Pamela Walker Laird, on how nineteeth-century advertising promoted progress; Albert Borgmann, on how technology disengages us from experiencing reality; Neal Stephenson, on the "eureka" moments with codes and computers; and Alan Jacobs, on why Harry Potter's magic shouldn't trouble Christians.