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Christian Humanist Profiles 40: Rod Dreher on Dante

Nathan P. Gilmour

CHProfilesDreherIn the early fourteenth century one of the true figures of Christian intellectual genius gave us the Commedia, a pilgrim’s allegorical journey through Inferno and Purgatorio and Paradiso for the sake of his soul.  Rod Dreher’s latest book claims, with its very title, a place for that poem in the twenty first century: How Dante Can Save Your Life: The Life-Changing Wisdom of History’s Greatest Poem.  Dreher has graciously agreed to join us on Christian Humanist Profiles to talk Dante, and you listeners know that such a chat is always going to encompass psychology, politics, art, philosophy, and ultimately what’s at stake when we venture to say something about God.

The Pietist Schoolman, Episode #6: Body and Soul

Chris Gehrz
Leonardo, "The Vitruvian Man"

Leonardo da Vinci, “The Vitruvian Man” (1490) – Wikimedia

“Whole-person education” is one of those stock phrases within higher education that is at once meaningful and meaningless: it’s core to the mission of institutions and central to how many of us conceive our vocations; it’s also so pervasive and thinly understood as to resemble a slogan concocted by the worst of branding consultants.

So in this week’s episode we dig deeper into a phrase that was all over our Pietist Vision of Christian Higher Education book. First, while head, heart, and spirit get most of the attention in Christian whole-person education, body often seems neglected. So we start with college volleyball coach Gretchen Hunt, on the relationship between athletics and academics (and sports as a microcosm of public policy issues), and continue with exercise physiology professor Seth Paradis, who had as much to say about spirituality as biomechanics as he cast a holistic vision for “well-being.” (Seth also got me to see the Pietist notion of “an irenic spirit” from a totally different angle!)

Further reading:

The Book of Nature Podcast, Episode #6: Scientific Virtues

Charles Hackney

Is being a good person necessary to do good science? Can doing good science make one a good person? Can doing good science make one a good Christian? Charles Hackney leads a discussion on the scientific virtues, based on the article Virtue and the Scientist by Jiin-Yu Chen.

Galileo_facing_the_Roman_Inquisition

Opening banter

Listener feedback

Virtue ethics and Alasdair MacIntyre

What is the telos of science?

What are the scientific virtues?

How doing good science empowers individual flourishing

Scientific virtues and the Christian life

Christian Humanist Profiles 39: Simon Gathercole on Substitution

David Grubbs

GathercoleProfiles_albumartBearing shame and scoffing rude,
in my place condemned he stood,
sealed my pardon with his blood:
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

These lines from P. P. Bliss’s classic hymn are powerful, but are they true? While most would concede that Jesus’ status as savior is a biblical idea, the consensus among NT scholars is that Bliss’s substitutionary language—”in my place … he stood”—is a theological imposition alien to the NT writers’ intent. Instead, they contend, Christ’s atoning work is better represented in terms of identification, representation, and participation. Simon Gathercole, Senior Lecturer in New Testament Studies and Fellow at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, wants to push back at this consensus. In his book Defending Substitution: An Essay on Atonement in Paul (Baker Academic, May 2015), Gathercole argues that substitution is an important element in Paul’s understanding of atonement, demonstrating this claim with rigorous exegesis, and showing that alternative theories ultimately (and ironically) cannot replace substitution.

The Pietist Schoolman Podcast, Episode #5: Sciences and Arts

Chris Gehrz

It’s time to start addressing some blind spots in our vision for higher education, as Dick Peterson embellishes on his brief remarks about science education in our book from InterVarsity Press and Ken Steinbach discusses the visual arts — utterly absent from that book. Better yet, both talk about teaching — a part of their craft for which each has won awards.

Further reading and listening:

  • The "High Rise" at Fermilab

    Wilson on the Fermilab accelerator: “It only has to do with the respect with which we regard one another, the dignity of men, our love of culture” (CC 2.0 WMGoBuffs)

    Richard W. Peterson, “Pietistic Values in Science and Science Education,” in The Pietist Vision of Christian Higher Education: Forming Whole and Holy Personsed. Christopher Gehrz (IVP Academic, 2015)

  • Dick’s long-form interview with Sam Mulberry for The Autobiography Podcast
  • Two pieces mentioned by Dick in our conversation: C. P. Snow’s 1959 lecture, “The Two Cultures“; and Robert R. Wilson’s congressional testimony in 1969 on the value of the Fermilab’s first accelerator
  • Under the Rose“: Ken’s remarks on winning the 2014 Arlin G. Meyer Prize in Visual Arts from the Lilly Fellows Program (published in the Easter 2015 issue of The Cresset)

Christian Humanist Profiles 38: Chris Celenza on Machiavelli

Nathan P. Gilmour

machiavellichpOld Nick they called him, and he earned himself a spot on the earliest versions of the earliest versions of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum with his treatise The Prince.  History remembers him as a guide for those who would survive and defeat enemies in the cutthroat world of politics.  But Christopher Celenza, author of Machiavelli, A Portrait, from Harvard University Press, does not let us rest content with the stereotypes and the legends.  Instead, in his brief and enjoyable book, Celenza provides some historical context within which to think about Machievelli’s ideas as well as a look into his biography and his activity as a writer of history, comedy, and copious letters.  Christian Humanist Profiles is delighted to welcome Chris Celenza on to the show to talk Machiavelli with us.

The Pietist Schoolman Podcast, Episode #4: Virtues and Vices

Chris Gehrz

Ray VanArragonPhilosopher and noted Family Guy interpreter Ray VanArragon joins us to discuss intellectual virtue and vice.

To my mind, Ray was one of the most important contributors to our Pietist Vision of Christian Higher Education project. First, he called attention to a possible pitfall of what we’re doing, suggesting that a Pietist embrace of the virtues of love and open-mindedness could — if taken too far — lead to the vice of insufficient concern for the truth. In addition to elaborating on those themes, in our conversation Ray reflected on what it’s like to be a Reformed scholar in a Pietist setting. As much as anyone, he has helped complicate my view of the relationship between the two traditions.

Further reading:

The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode #162: A Look at Our Bookshelves

David Grubbs

David Grubbs leads a very punchy Nathan Gilmour and Michial Farmer in a discussion of their 14111743435qkl6bookshelves. Warning: End of the Semester Episode Ahead!

Christian Humanist Profiles 37: Owen Gingerich

Todd Pedlar

GingerichArtIn his 2014 book, God’s Planet, published by Harvard University Press, Dr. Owen Gingerich, Professor Emeritus of Astronomy and the History of Science at Harvard University, and senior astronomer emeritus at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory explores the deep connection between scientific work and the religious commitments (or lack thereof) of those engaging in scientific inquiry.  His thesis in this book, which consists of edited lectures given by Dr. Gingerich at Gordon College, is that the realms of science and religious or metaphysics can never completely be disentangled – and to maintain that a complete separation can be achieved is neither realistic nor helpful.    Gingerich in these lectures explores the work of Nicholas Copernicus, Charles Darwin, and Fred Hoyle as a means to build the argument for a more realistic and appropriate approach to thinking about science and religion.   In this edition of Christian Humanist Profiles, Todd Pedlar discusses God’s Planet and related issues with Dr. Gingerich.

Book of Nature, Episode 5: Dystopia!

Todd Pedlar

DYSTOPIAEpisode 5: Dystopias

In this episode, Todd Pedlar hosts a discussion of dystopian literature and film, asking why the dystopian is so attractive to us and probing the interface between dystopian worlds and science and technology,  A few of the highlights of Episode 5 are:

  • Defining dystopia and utopia, and introducing some of the earliest dystopian fiction
  • Exploration of the connection between dystopian fiction and science – why is science so scary?
  • How the subject matter of dystopian fiction has changed over the centuries, from the earliest dystopian ideas to today.  Have we come about full circle, from societal/cultural fears to fears about science, and back again?
  • The attraction of dystopias: are we simply people who like to beat our own psyches up, or is there more to it?
  • The co-hosts share their favorite dystopian films