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November 2006
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Audition - Program 5 (30 November 2006) P. D. James's dystopian novel The Children of Men was the basis for a film opening on Christmas Day in the U.S. On this issue of Audition, Ken Myers talks with Ralph Wood and Alan Jacobs about the power and meaning of James's fiction, specifically of the themes raised in the bleak (but finally hopeful) story now adapted for the screen by Alfonzo Cuaron. A 1980 interview with P. D. James is also featured, in which she talks about why evil characters are more interesting than good ones, and why mysteries need murders.

Direct download: MHA_Audition_005.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:35pm EDT

Not Ready for Marriage In 1997, Leon Kass published an essay called "The End of Courtship" in a quarterly journal devoted principally to matters of domestic public policy. Kass was not suggesting new federal guidelines on dating, but was describing a social condition which laws and policies addressing marriage and divorce had failed to reckon with. The article made the argument that, growing up in contemporary society, young people are by and large not given any guidance about how to prepare for married life. As Kass wrote, "Courtship provided rituals of growing up, for making clear the meaning of one's own human sexual nature, and for entering into the ceremonial and customary world of ritual and sanctification. Courtship disciplined sexual desire and romantic attraction, provided opportunities for mutual learning about one another's character, fostered salutary illusions that inspired admiration and devotion, and, by locating wooer and wooed in their familial settings, taught the inter-generational meaning of erotic activity. It pointed the way to the answers to life's biggest questions: Where are you going? Who is going with you? How--in what manner--are you both going to go?"

By contrast, Kass noted, "The practices of today's men and women do not accomplish these purposes, and they and their marriages, when they get around to them, are weaker as a result. There may be no going back to the earlier forms of courtship, but no one should be rejoicing over this fact. Anyone serious about "designing" new cultural forms to replace those now defunct must bear the burden of finding some alternative means of serving all these necessary goals."

A few years after this article was published, MARS HILL AUDIO produced a four-and-one-half hour documentary on the social and personal costs of the absence of expectations about marriage called "Wandering toward the Altar: The Decline of American Courtship." Featuring interviews with Leon Kass and his wife Amy (who has written on this subject with him; see "Proposing Courtship," First Things, October 1999), "Wandering toward the Altar" also includes conversations with a variety of social and cultural historians, theologians, and pastors, including Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, Wendy Shalit, Allan Carlson, Beth Bailey, Steven Nock, Kay Hymowitz, and Douglas Wilson.

This extensive Report is now being offered in an MP3 download format, which is burnable to 4 conventional CDs. The price is $11.

A future issue of Audition will feature excerpts from this Report.

Category:MHA MP3 -- posted at: 4:40pm EDT

Louise Cowan on the Classics (Audio Reprint) "Poetry appeals to the imagination, that faculty of the mind which enables the intellect to know the things of the senses from the inside--in other words, to experience by empathy things other than ourselves and to make of that experience a new form."

So writes Dr. Louise Cowan in her 1998 essay, "The Necessity of the Classics." Cowan goes on to note that this capacity of the imagination is central to the rationale of liberal education: "[I]t is not so much to further individual success or to produce 'new knowledge' or even to preserve the monuments of the past. Rather, it is to give form to this creative impulse in human culture." It is in the context of such a view of poetry, the imagination, and education that the idea of the classics has been sustained for centuries.

The same year that essay was published in The Intercollegiate Review. Louise Cowan, a professor of English at the University of Dallas (then and now), was a guest on the MARS HILL AUDIO Journal, discussing her book Invitation to the Classics. Now MARS HILL AUDIO is pleased to announce the availability of an MP3 download of Cowan's wise essay as part of our Audio Reprints series.

This Reprint sells for $3.

Category:MHA MP3 -- posted at: 9:16pm EDT

Audition - Program 4 (31 Oct 2006) On this issue of Audition, we feature a number of interviews about Christian novelists, poets, and mythmakers.

- Alan Jacobs (What Became of Wystan: Change and Continuity in Auden’s Poetry) tells us about how W. H. Auden's conversion to Christianity affected his poetry (an excerpt from The Public Poetry of W. H. Auden)

- Ralph Wood (The Gospel according to Tolkien: Visions of the Kingdom in Middle Earth) talks about J. R. R. Tolkien's view of language, and the dangers of a society that debases language (an excerpt from Maker of Middle Earth)

- Susan Srigley (Flannery O’Connor’s Sacramental Art) explains how Flannery O'Connor's fiction reveals her incarnational view of life (excerpt from Hillbilly Thomist: Flannery O'Connor and the Truth of Things)

- Thomas Howard (Narnia and Beyond: A Guide to the Fiction of C. S. Lewis) describes how myth differs from the modern novel, and what is lost when the gods disappear from our stories (excerpt from Till We Have Faces and the Meaning of Myth)

- Alan Jacobs (The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C. S. Lewis) details how C. S. Lewis was more open-minded than his Victorian atheistic teachers, and how that open-mindedness left room for Lewis to become a Christian (from the MARS HILL AUDIO Journal, volume 77)

Thanks for listening!

Direct download: MHA_Audition_004.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:08am EDT