The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode #140: Answers to Your Questions

We answer your emails today! If you’d like to be included on a future listener-feedback episode, send woman-reading-a-letter-woman-in-blue-reading-a-letteryour comments, complaints, critiques, or criticism to thechristianhumanist@gmail.com. Here are the time marks for the individual emails and subjects, should you wish to skip ahead.

[03:05] Mark Heard and listener feedback about listener feedback. (See below.)
[04:29] Karl Barth’s Evangelical Theology and “A Primer on Religious Existentialism.”
[06:41] Spoon River Anthology and A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
[08:47] A case for stupid songs and Grubbs’s Dick Van Dyke moment.
[12:08] Non-Trinitarian Christianity.
[16:05] Postmodernism vs. Bertrand Russell.
[20:52] American political theory.
[29:44] A defense of Francis Schaeffer.
[33:30] The Bible and The Christian Humanist Podcast.
[46:33] The best philosophical works?
[55:04] Podcast recommendations. (See below.)
[57:09] Jaws and Rabbits.
[1:01:11] A physics lesson on Mark Heard. (See below.)
[1:04:09] War and technology.


Darrell’s Heard post.


Jonas’s podcast recommendations:

Books / Literature
Bookworm (KCRW)​ ​[Author interviews. The authors continually express amazement at the interviewer’s reading of the book. He will say things they thought no one would see in the book, or he’ll show them something is there that they hadn’t seen.]
World Book Cl​ub (BBC) [In a live event, the host asks an author questions in front of an audience, which also asks questions, as do readers from around the world via phone or e-mail.]
Selected Shorts​ ​[I generally hate it when actors–as opposed to authors–read audio books. But here actors read short stories in front of audiences and I love it. In one episode titled “Odd Couples,” James Naughton performed Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral.” Truthfully, I have never found great pleasure in Carver’s work. But this brought out the humor I hadn’t seen, and made me like the story a great deal.]
Writers & Company (CBC)​ ​[Author interviews.]
Books and Authors (BBC) ​ ​[The most common format is for two guests plus the host to each select a book that they all read, and then they discuss each one. The guests are usually well-known people who are not authors.]
New Yorker Fiction ​ ​[New Yorkers fiction authors read and discuss stories that have been published earlier in the magazine. My favorite is when Hisham Matar read Jorge Luis Borges’s “Shakespeare’s Memory.”]
Poem Talk (Poetry Foundation)
Poetry Off the Shelf (Poetry Foundation)
Poetry Magazine Podcast (Poetry Foundation)
Poetry Lectures (Poetry Foundation)
Poem of the Day (Poetry Foundation)
Writer’s Almanac
Guardian Books
NYT Book Review
Free Library of Philadelphia
Los Angeles Public Library: Aloud

Other
Culture Gabfest (Slate)
Great Lives (BBC) ​ ​ [The host invites a famous guest to nominate someone (anyone, as long as they are no longer living) as having lived a great life. They also invite an expert on the subject–an academic, family member, etc.–to join the conversation. This often sets up an interesting dynamic, since the expert often tempers the enthusiasm of the person who nominated the great life.]
In Our Time (BBC)​ ​[The topics range from literature to science to history to philosophy. His guests are experts on the subject, bursting with things to say–there is always much more that they want to cover than they have time for.]
Lexicon Valley (Slate)​ ​[Language talk.]
Radio 3 Essay (BBC) ​ ​[The essay form is alive and well.]
Lapham’s Quarterly
New Yorker Out Loud
Studio 360 (WNYC)
Front Row Daily (BBC)
Arts & Ideas (BBC)
Political Gabfest (Slate)
Freakonomics
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Latino USA (NPR)
A Way with Words
Philosophy Bites
Science Friday

Music
Soundcheck (WNYC)
All Songs Considered (NPR)
Alt.Latino (NPR)
The Checkout (jazz)
Jazz (NPR)
The Jazz Session


Todd explains Mark Heard:

Here is an alternative take on the candle and prism stanza of Heard’s wonderful “Love is not the Only Thing”.  I think Michial got the gist of what Heard was saying correct – bit if I remember what he said (about the prism in some sense “containing the rainbow”) was off-base in terms of the physics.

In the lines in question, “You see me like a prism sees a candle; I’m scattered into differing hues”, I believe Heard was getting at the following.  The singer’s wife is likened to a prism, which can “see” the different colors in the candle’s light. The husband’s light, seen by others, is simply white – but contained within – the light, not the prism – is a rainbow of hues that his wife alone can bring out.   To me as a physicist (and a husband who celebrated his 22nd anniversary just yesterday) this is a truly beautiful analogy.


Paul’s history of military technology:

At West Point, all Cadets are required to take 2 semesters of Military History courses.  In my first Military History class, we began with the battle of Agincourt, a battle of English victory against the numerically superior French in the 100 years war (1415).  This battle is known for the use of the English longbow attacking the superior French cavalry and men at arms force before they were able to inflict heavy casualties on the outnumbered English force.  King Henry the VIII of England decided to push his troops forward to provoke a French assault as both the English and French knew many French reinforcements were marching to the battle.  The outcome of this battle astounded many contemporary Military histories as the consensus is that the English were able to kill and capture the French at a rate of at least 8:1.  In the restricted terrain of the battle of Agincourt, the English Longbow proved a formidable weapon against the heavily armored (though not in all areas of their bodies) French force.  Also, unencumbered by 50-60 pounds of armor they were able to effectively attack the flanks of the superior armored French force and kill/capture thousands of them.  This battle is seen as one of the first examples of a numerically/tactically outnumbered Army defeating a much larger and better equipped Armies in Military History.

Skipping several more advances in warfare, I would like to now discuss in minor detail the American Civil War.  This war is predominately viewed by military historians as one that the USA had a long term insurmountable advantage over the Confederacy in terms of industrial strength and population.  However, the Confederacy was able to delay this defeat by many years by means of expert tactical decisions by Confederate Generals.  Among the many examples of the expert tactics of the confederacy was the Second Battle of Bull run in which a numerically inferior Confederate force defeated the United States Army of VIrginia.  This Battle culminated in General Longstreet’s division crushing of the left flank of the Union Army and a disastrous Union retreat.

Continuing this history of warfare, I now advance to World War I-a war that was supposed to be a quick march from Germany to Paris (according to the German  Schlieffen Plan), that ended in many years of horrific trench warfare on two fronts.  It is here that the world was introduced to the horrors of chemical and biological warfare.  I would argue that this advance in the technology of warfare did drastically change war as we know it.  It is believed that over 9 million people died in World War I.  If this nearly unfathomable number of casualties is not a change in warfare, then what is?  This war also was the beginning of tank warfare, a change that would resonate in history (Blitzkrieg anyone?)  What was thought by many to be a quick war ended up draining the recourses and manpower of the majority of Europe from 1914-1918.

World War II, likewise marked a major change in the history of war.   The atomic bomb is the largest piece of evidence for the fact that war forever changed with World War II.  There were an estimated 50-85 million casualties during WWII!  This makes all previous wars pale in comparison with the human toll of this war.  WWII is often characterized as the first (and possibly only?) total war due to the strategic bombing of enemy military industrial and population centers as well as the use of the Atomic Bomb.  WWII was characterized by a scale and commitment to war I hope to never experience in my lifetime.

The current/recent US Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been significantly different from previous US Wars.  First, and foremost, the United States has been able to wage these wars despite minimal effects of war impacting the majority of American civilians.  Contrasting these wars with the American Civil War, WWI, and WWII prove a major point that warfare has changed much recently (more than Michael appears to understand)  Also, in the same (or many other) episode of your podcast, I believe Nathan mentioned the current administrations use of drones to attack suspected military targets in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Similar to what I said of the atomic bomb I must say, If modern drone warfare is not a complete change of war, then what is?

In conclusion, war has changed an extreme amount from the days of hand to hand combat to trench warfare, the invention of tanks, the atomic bomb, and more recently the advent of drone warfare.  I feel that this is a simple concept to understand, yet maybe it is one of those things that only those in the field can really appreciate?  My opinion is that war has changed more than it has stayed the same in the history of the United States.


Our intro music today–as always for listener-feedback episodes–is Loose Fur’s “Answers to Your Questions,” from 2006’s Born Again in the USA.

2 thoughts on “The Christian Humanist Podcast, Episode #140: Answers to Your Questions

  1. Thanks for the link, and full marks on your Germanic pronunciation(s). If I could add one show to Jonas’s fab list of podcast recommendations, it would be CBC’s Ideas, with Paul Kennedy. Currently iTunes is still hosting their five-episode exploration of “After Atheism” — worth a spin, on a long drive.

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