Wednesday, May 25, 2011

On the Temptations of Christian Higher Education

I'm not usually inclined to agree with Allen Guelzo--but given his contrarian tendencies, agreement would almost constitute failure for him. However, his recent reflections on Christian higher education in Touchstone magazine are worth noting (HT: FT's Evangel blog).

Many will fixate on his critique of quality in these institutions (or lack thereof), as well his worry about the rise of "Rolodex presidents"--"presidents who may or may not have much understanding of the life of liberal arts education and who may or may not have much personal investment in the Evangelical identity of the college, but who have been picked out of a corporate Rolodex of “successful leaders,” either by boards of trustees or executive search firms." (I don't think this situation is quite as dire as Guelzo suggests, but we might be on the way. And I think Guelzo has a bit of an idealistic picture of colleges as "learning institutions," as if historians and philosophers would be the most natural leaders for such institutions. But the contemporary college or university is obviously a much more complex beast, and I can imagine all kinds of "scholars" who could sink a college in no time despite all their scholarly acumen and prestige.)

However, that's not my interest. Instead, I'm sympathetic to Guelzo's identification of another dynamic that compromises certain institutions of higher education: de facto allegiance to the guild rather than the institution. As Guelzo rightly notes:

Faculty want to be left alone because, for the most part, their primary allegiance is to their professional guild, “a largely closed community of practitioners,” says Louis Menand, “who have an almost absolute power to determine the standards for entry, promotion, and dismissal in their fields” (e.g., history, chemistry, physics, sociology, and so on). Allegiance to the college fades far back in the wake of the academic career. Faculty think of themselves as historians, chemists, physicists and sociologists first, rather than as members of a certain college faculty, because that’s where the mobility is.

This means that, even for Christian colleges, there is only modest incentive for a faculty member to buy into a Christian college’s worldview paradigm. Given the atmosphere of financial fragility, the resources to reward the development of such a worldview are simply not there, and the professional cultures in which faculty are trained are actively hostile to it.

The yardsticks by which I have been measuring the decline and fall of many Christian colleges have been, I admit, secular ones: endowment, admittance rates, and so forth. All of these I could cheerfully agree to dismiss if they were the price being paid by a college for its commitment to a forthrightly Christian identity. But they are not. In pursuit of Rolodex presidents and guild-minded faculty, too many Christian colleges are actually begging to be judged by secular standards. They are, in effect, trying to serve two masters. I am simply taking them at their word.

The notion that Christian colleges and universities are in danger of becoming too academic and scholarly will sound almost laughable. And in many cases it is: there are all kinds of small Christian colleges which are still working to emerge from their "Bible school" heritages, and in those places there's hardly a danger of being too committed to the wider academy. To the contrary.

However, Guelzo is right that there is another tier of Christian colleges for whom I think this is a very real temptation. In the name of "rigorous" scholarship, the scholars at these institutions commit themselves to the regnant paradigms in their guilds, find their primary identity and allegiance in such guilds, and are thus puzzled and exasperated as to why the Christian institution in which they teach doesn't just simply mirror their guild or the research university down the road. As I've argued elsewhere, such a stance is usually also accompanied by the schtick that education is a hands-off endeavor of providing skills for "critical thinking" and professors who have absorbed this trope will be completely allergic to the illiberal notion that education is about formation.

In short, once a critical mass of faculty at such Christian colleges have decided that their primary allegiance is to the guild, in some sense the "core business" and raison d'etre of the Christian college has been abandoned. Or as Guelzo puts it, the college will have swapped the formative task of education--handing on a tradition--for the instrumental job of conferring credentials:
Christian higher education, if it has anyraison d’etreat all, is in the business of handing on a tradition, not of piling up research or conferring credentials—in other words, its real “core business” is education. If Christianity is a revealed religion, then the content of that revelation is both fixed and authoritative; it does not bend, wilt, or evolve gradually into something else. It will not be improved by research into religious phenomena. Thus, the Christian college may recover, re-emphasize, and reform, but it will not re-design.
While I worry that Guelzo's language conveys a problematic picture of repristination, he's certainly onto something. And as he concludes, if Christian colleges and universities are induced to give up this task of education, it will constitute a real loss in the wider landscape of American higher education:

This will be a great loss because Evangelical higher education really does possess a reason for the “core business” of educating. Evangelicals really do believe that there is a transcendent meaning to learning, that the love of learning is indeed akin to the desire for God. In fact, believing this, the Evangelical college ought to be the one place that really has a foundation from which to hold back the vast outpouring of cultural bilge, from violent video games to proletarian entertainment.

It comes as no shock to discover that secular universities can find no cultural consensus, since they abandoned that a long time ago; and it is not news, since Ex Corde Ecclesia,that Catholic colleges and universities are far from being of one mind on their identity. But it will mean the end of yet another important cultural alternative if Evangelical colleges, one by one, go down—or worse, pull themselves down, because their leaders and their faculties could not make up their minds what core business they were in, and sat in silence.

It might not be too late, but it might be getting late.

I'll feel better about watching "Hangover 2"...

...because Bradley Cooper just used the word "hermeneutic" on NPR's "Fresh Air"--clearly a reflection of his Villanova/Georgetown education.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

This is Your Brain on Apple...

Given the argument I make about the mall as temple in Desiring the Kingdom, several friends pointed out a recent study which purports to confirm the religious nature of "super brands," lending some MRI support for what The Persuaders showed us already several years ago.

Scanning the brain activity of Apple devotees, the researchers found that the emotional experience associated with Apple stimulated the same regions of the brain that are stimulated by religious experience.

Always nice to have little reductionistic empiricism in the back pocket of my argument!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Risks of Fatherhood

I've appreciated the kinds notes in response to my "Letter to Young Parents."

Just FYI, those who found some encouragement in that might also want to listen to a chapel talk I gave at Regent College last summer on "The Risks of Fatherhood" (free audio).

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Manhattan this Weekend

I'm looking forward to being in Manhattan this weekend to present the Gospel & Culture Lecture on Sunday, May 22, at 1:00pm in the Hunter College Auditorium. This is sponsored by Redeemer Presbyterian's Center for Faith & Work who, in 2010-2011, have organized an impressive series of lectures that has also included N.T. Wright, Andy Crouch, Adrienne Chaplin, Robert George and several others. It's an honor to be part of this conversation.

The title of my talk is simply Culture as Liturgy. But my sort of working subtitle is: Taking David Brooks to Church.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Dream Small: A Commencement Address

A couple of weeks ago I had the honor of delivering the commencement address to the graduating class of King College in Bristol, TN. It's a strange, rather daunting genre. I took brevity to be one of the primary virtues of such a talk. And given that I was in the middle of David Foster Wallace's The Pale King while writing this--and that his own Kenyon College commencement address was rumbling around in my head--I was worried about being entirely derivative (and a bit of a downer). But when I got the invitation last fall, I immediately remembered a note I had scribbled in my moleskin almost two years ago and was able to give them the title immediately: "Dream Small."

Dream Small: King College Commencement Address

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Letter to Young Parents

As I mentioned before, I recently guest-edited an issue of Comment magazine which we dubbed, "Letters to the Young." There are still some issues available for purchase.

My contribution, beyond the editorial, was a letter to young parents. My wife and I have been married over 20 years and are the proud parents of 4 teenagers. But I can assure you we had no idea what we were getting into. This letter distills some of the wisdom (I hope) I've accumulated thus far--wisdom wrestled from fear and disappointment and heartbreak, and hope birthed by irruptions of grace and goodness.

Dear Grace and Alex,

Congratulations! Thanks be to God for the safe arrival of what sounds like a packed little bundle of hope: my goodness, 10 lbs., 6 oz.! It must be the milk there in Wisconsin.

Well, on behalf of the rest of us exhausted, grateful, and terrified inhabitants, let me welcome you to a strange new world: parenthood. This is going to be the hardest thing you’ve ever done, and it’s worth every bit of the blood, sweat, and tears that are to come. You can’t imagine that now. I understand. Soak up every ounce of joy and elation and starry-eyed wonder at the miracle of baby Liam. I’ll be watching as the terror sets in. It’s usually when you’re headed out the hospital door and it hits you: “They’re actually letting me take this little creature home? But I don’t know what the hell I’m doing!” Yeah, get used to that.

But also remember this: in a few weeks, you’re going to bring Liam forward for baptism. In that sacramental act he is going to be tangibly marked with the sign of God’s promises. That should be a first reminder that you’re not in this alone—that Liam is being claimed by a promise-keeping Father who is even more faithful than you. There will be days and seasons when that will be an unspeakable comfort to you.

In the sacrament of baptism, not only will you claim God’s promises, you’ll be confessing that you alone are not able to raise Liam. The baptismal ceremony is, I think, a wonderful gift to parents who rightly approach their task with fear and trembling. For while you, in response to God’s promise, will make promises to God about how you will raise Liam, the congregation will also make a promise—to come alongside you, to support you and nourish you, to sustain you all within the household of God that is bigger than the three of you. So baptism is a sign that our homes are open, interdependent households, not closed, nuclear units. Baptism signals that all of us—married or single, parent or child—are part of a larger household which is the church of God, and together, that household has pledged to be one big community of godparents. When you run up against the challenges of parenting, don’t be scared to remind the church of the promise it made to you.

I hope and pray that your labour as parents can be buoyed by these promises and this sense that your tiny, growing family will flourish just to the extent that you center yourselves in the “first family,” which is the church. You will need this, believe me. One of the terrible lies of our culture—and even the rhetoric of “family values”—is the crippling myth that our homes are self-sufficient incubators for child-rearing. If you buy into that myth, you’ll isolated by a constant sense of failure. For it won’t take long to realize that you are not able to do this on your own, even though you’re an intertwined team. But if you’ve bought into the myth of the self-sufficient family, you also won’t be willing to admit that you need help. Baptism is the church’s way of signaling right from the get-go that we know you need help! We know you can’t do this on your own. So we’re not going to be surprised or disappointed or judgmental when you lean on us. We’ll be there waiting. Why not get into the habit early?

Finally, while I don’t mean to rain on the parade of your joy, I do feel compelled to share the bad news, too: Liam might break your heart. Actually, Liam is going to break your heart. Somehow. Somewhere. Maybe more than once. To become a parent is to promise you’ll love prodigals. Indeed, some days parenting is exactly how God is going to teach you to love your enemies. Because there’ll be days when a 17-year-old Liam is going to see you as the enemy, and all of a sudden you’ll realize that the Sermon on the Mount is not about war and foreign policy, nor is it just pie-in-the-sky piety: instead, you’ll hear those words anew and realize that in the command to love your enemies, Jesus is calling you to follow him as a parent, and sometimes even that task will look cruciform. It will require absorbing all Liam’s misplaced animosity, all his confused attempts to figure out who (and whose) he is. At those moments, Jesus’ call to lay down your life and take up the cross will have a mundane tangibility you could have never imagined. Some days, loving Liam is going to require you to turn the other cheek and absorb that heartbreak like a slap across the face. And it’s then that you’ll most want to remember the promises of a faithful Father that trickled down his little forehead years ago.

But those painful moments will be overshadowed by a million others. You’re going to think it’s incredible when Liam smiles, or says “Mama,” or rolls over on his tummy, but let me tell you: that won’t even compare to the afternoon when, in what feels like an out-of-body experience, you realize you’re having a conversation with this man—you might be sitting on the front porch talking about Mumford & Sons or Andy Warhol or World War II artillery, and for a moment you can hardly believe that the little bundle you brought home from the hospital has grown into this beautiful, mystifying, wonderful young man. And you realize that, in your son, God has given you one of your best friends in the whole world, and you try to suppress your smile while thinking to yourself, “Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.”

It’s all worth it,


Monday, May 09, 2011

Public Intellectuals: Across the Channel, Across the Pond

It turns out Britain and the United States--those two countries long divided by a common language--nonetheless share a common pastime: lamenting the lack of influence of public intellectuals while romanticizing the role of ideas in France. As John Naughton puts it in his Observer essay, "Why don't we love our intellectuals?" (available at the Guardian),
Britain is a country in which the word "intellectual" is often preceded by the sneering adjective "so-called", where smart people are put down because they are "too clever by half" and where a cerebral politician (David Willetts) was for years saddled with the soubriquet "Two Brains". It's a society in which creative engineers are labelled "boffins" and kids with a talent for mathematics or computer programming are "nerds". As far as the Brits are concerned, intellectuals begin at Calais and gravitate to Paris, where the fact that they are lionised in its cafes and salons is seen as proof that the French, despite their cheese- and wine-making skills, are fundamentally unsound. Given this nasty linguistic undercurrent, a Martian anthropologist would be forgiven for thinking that Britain was a nation of knuckle-dragging troglodytes rather than a cockpit of vibrant cultural life and home to some of the world's best universities, most creative artists, liveliest publications and greatest theatres and museums.
As you might guess, Naughton is actually out challenge this picture, enjoining his compatriots to "cast off the inferiority complex towards the cerebral continent and move on to more interesting questions." The question Naughton pursues gets a little less interesting, trying to quantify the influence of public intellectuals (first requiring a definition of a public intellectual)--but it's still worth reading the whole thing.

It would be interesting to try out a similar thesis on this side of the pond (including Canada, a propos of my earlier post on Ignatieff). It's pretty easy to decry the lack of intellectual rigor in American public discourse in a country where someone like Sarah Palin can have any kind of public platform. But that might also be shooting fish in a barrel. Maybe there's also another side to the story. In some deep sense, the United States has always been primarily an idea--indeed, no matter what you might think of the results, the founding of the Republic was a remarkable exercise in theoretical reflection and intellectual imagining. And to some extent, while much of the bluster might just be a cover for selfishness and greed, there is a sense in which debates in this country are still about ideas. I find nothing to commend in Glenn Beck, but it is nonetheless interesting that he could put a book like Hayek's Road to Serfdom on the bestseller list (Fukuyama's review of another Hayek volume in yesterday's NYT is also germane here).

Perhaps what we need is a distinction: often what we might mean when we lament the absence of public intellectuals actually boils down to the lack of influence exerted by academics. But that might betray a problematic equation that is well lost.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Once (and only once) more on the "new universalism"

[I will no doubt regret this, but a 5-hour layover in Atlanta will make one do all kinds of regrettable things.]

So, I guess there's been a little buzz about my earlier post on the so-called "new universalism." Some people clearly have a lot of time on their hands. Otherwise, why on earth would someone take the time to respond to some blog post that is so clearly malicious, stupid, arrogant, misguided, and irresponsible? Wouldn't the thing to do in such a situation be to just ignore it? Nonetheless, my off-the-cuff remarks have solicited first a 1200 word response; and then, from the master of overkill, a 3200 word response (Dude: don't you have a dissertation to write?); and now a first installment of 1600 words in what promises to be a two-part response. I'm flattered?

A. So, against my better judgment, let me make a few observations:

1. Um, it's a blog post people. I wrote it in 20 minutes one morning after reading another piece of dreck by Lauren Winner. If it's stupid, why comment on it? (There is a huge laughable irony about charges of ressentiment in the ballpark here--you can work that out for yourself.)

2. I really don't have a dog in this fight. "Universalism"--or any sort of crusade against universalism--is simply not on my radar. This ain't my issue. So I'm sure as hell not going to spend much time carrying on some ongoing conversation about it. I made a comment about an essay in the NYT which was itself describing a "zeitgeist" in evangelicalism--and repeated phrases and positions I've heard from real, live people. I made some comments about that zeitgeist. If you think I'm wrong, you're welcome to make that case. I am not obligated to respond to you, and so you're even free to tell yourself that my non-response means that I've been proven wrong. Go crazy. Just note that there are other interpretations of such silence that might be different than what you're telling yourself. I can live with people thinking I'm wrong, so the dynamics of shame that functions in the blogosphere doesn't really bother me. I've got other fish to fry.

3. I must have missed the memo about the requirements for writing a blog post. Apparently, according to the self-appointed police force of the theological blogosphere, one is not allowed to comment on a topic unless one has first completed a dissertation in the field. Who decided only specialists could speak? Is there a reading list everyone's supposed to have mastered before they can comment on an issue? Is it hidden in the catacombs at Multnomah?

4. It was not a blog post on Rob Bell, or universalism in general, or universalism across the spectrum of Christian history. It was a riff on an essay by Lauren Winner from which the phrases "I can't imagine" and "I can hope" are lifted. I do think these are common refrains from folks who extol something like this position but also haven't read all of the books that I'm at fault for not having mastered.

B. So what was I on about in that original post? I'm afraid none of the responses have really given me pause about my concerns. And as I said, I'm not going to engage in some point-by-point refutation. If you think that means I don't have an argument or a defense, go crazy: you're welcome to do that. However, let me make just a couple of clarifications:

1. I'm afraid I still think the motivation question is a legitimate one (though obviously not the only one--do I seriously have to state that? Apparently.). In this regard, I just take myself to be following some of Charles Taylor's methodology in A Secular Age. Indeed, for those who really care about this issue, I think A Secular Age, pp. 650ff. is important reading: there Taylor examines the shift in plausibility conditions that engendered the "decline in Hell." I take my point to be a sort of off-handed cousin of that analysis.

The question would just be something like this: if there is such a "clear" "biblical" logic that impels us toward universalism, why did the majority of Christendom seem to miss this for 1500-1800 years? There are multiple accounts of that. Taylor's account is one of motivations: as he argues, something changes in "modern Christian consciousness" that makes us want something else to be the case, thus priming us to "see" it there all along. That might not be an adequate account, but it is certainly a legitimate aspect of an account. And if you don't think this is really what's at work for all sorts of folks who don't read theology, well...then you haven't read Lauren Winner's essay.

But actually the better parallel from Taylor is found elsewhere in A Secular Age, where Taylor considers "conversions" to unbelief (pp. 362-366). I've summarized this chapter here, but let me reproduce one snippet:

This section is a fascinating little psychoanalysis of a convert—but of one (or a culture) that has converted from belief to unbelief. The upshot is a hermeneutics of suspicion: if someone tells you that they’ve converted to unbelief because of science, don’t believe them. Because what’s usually captured them is not scientific evidence per se, but the formof science: “Even where the conclusions of science seem to be doing the work of conversion, it is very often not the detailed findings so much as the form” (362). Indeed, “the appeal of scientific materialism is not so much the cogency of its detailed findngs as that of the underlying epistemological stance, and that for ethical reasons. It is seen as the stance of maturity, of courage, of manliness, over against childish fears and sentimentality” (365). But you can also understand how, on the retelling, the convert to unbelief will want to give the impression that it was the scientific evidence that was doing the work (365b). Converts to unbelief always tell subtraction stories.

And the belief that they’ve converted from has usually been an immature, Sunday-Schoolish faith that could be easily toppled. So while such converts to unbelief tell themselves stories about “growing up” and “facing reality”—and thus paint belief as essentially immature and childish—what it betrays is the simplistic shape of the faith they’ve abandoned. “[I]f our faith has remained at the stage of the immature images, then the story that materialism equals maturity can seem plausible” (365). But in fact their conversion to unbelief was also a conversion to a new faith: “faith in science’s ability” (366).

The point is that people "convert" to positions not on the basis of reasons but on the basis of a certain moral stance associated with the position. It seems to me there's something similar at work in what I'll call "zeitgeist-universalism."

2. What I was probably also reacting to in my original blog post was the general tenor of moral superiority that so often (not always) accompanies evangelical universalists. I'm really tired of all the construals of universalism that basically make it seem that only moral monsters could not be universalists. So was Augustine stupid? Or malicious? Or both?

3. Finally, with respect to my basic claim that hope can be wrong: Surely no one would suggest that hope gets some kind of free pass--as if a hope couldn't be "wrong" in the sense of being mis-directed or mis-ordered. So I take it that, in principle, as a virtue, hope is subject to discipline, one might say. So hope doesn't traffic in some neutral domain where you can hope whatever you want. Therefore, in principle, hopes could be subject to "chastisement" (isn't this half the critique of the prosperity gospel?).

So I take it to be formally true that a hope can be wrong. Then we'd have to discuss on what grounds a hope for universalism could be right or wrong. Just because it's a "nice" hope doesn't give it a free pass; just because it seems to be a "logical" hope doesn't suffice. Indeed, I think Jonathan Edwards would argue that what I hope for is quite besides the point; in other words, there might be a more theocentric way to frame this whole conversation.

C. So I wish I had more retractions to make. You can chalk this up to either my stubbornness or my stupidity, or both. Just a few minor points:

1. Yes, the "new" universalism is not "new"--there are ancient streams of this. Yep, OK.

2. There are people who offer rigorous arguments, biblical cases for universalism, etc., etc. Turns out people have written lots of books on this. (Gee, really? Well, gooolllly...if only uh'd known...) Yep, got it. [See B.2 above]

3. I would say, in response to DeRose, and following from a conversation with my colleague Kevin Corcoran, that perhaps there's a different taxonomy or set of labels that could be used to clarify the positions here. So, for example, on something like Keith's register, I think, one could be an "exclusivist" [only through Jesus] and a "hopeful universalist" [all will be saved]. So what I call "exclusivism" might be better described as "separationism." Fair enough. If I was more invested in this conversation, I might try to master the lingo.

C'est fini (pour moi).

Friday, May 06, 2011

No Country for Philosopher-Kings

You might not have known this, but the nation to our north just completed a federal election. Not a lot of hype--the election was only announced about 5 weeks ago, so don't feel badly if you missed it. The Conservative government established a solid majority, thus relinquishing the ball-and-chain of a coalition government. No big surprise: they only called the election because they were confident this would be the outcome.

The real story of the election was the trouncing of the Liberal party and the re-emergence of the NDP--what used to be the "left" option in Canadian politics but which has now, it seems, gone the way of "New Labor."

Why should we care? Because embedded in the downfall of the Liberals was a cautionary tale about the role of intellectuals in electoral politics. The leader of the Liberal party was philosopher Michael Ignatieff, about whom I've blogged before. A political philosopher of international renown, Ignatieff returned to Canada like the philosopher returning to the cave, committing himself to the actual task of governing. The end result was the complete obliteration of the party.

Andrew Potter's Maclean's column, "No Country for Good Men," is an instructive analysis. He points out two important factors:

First, the Liberal party has not known what it stood for since Chretien--its only "platform" has been the maintenance of power. This isn't even pragmatism; it's ultimately cynicism. As Potter notes:
the Liberal Party of Canada is a complete disaster, and has been for some time. It was mid-way through Jean Chretien’s second term that people started to point out that the party had no real identity, no sense of purpose other than power for its own sake. And so Michael Ignatieff’s failure to tell a plausible story about his own candidacy for prime minister was the precise mirror of the party’s own existential conundrum: The Liberal Party of Canada has no idea why it exists, so it is hardly surprising that they settled on a leader who didn’t seem to have any idea why he was here.
What is so remarkable about Ignatieff’s tenure as Liberal leader, and with this past election campaign in particular, is how little he tried to take advantage of intellectual strengths and interests. Confronted with a cartoonishly small-minded prime minister acting as chief puppeteer over a caucus of frat boys, yes men, and idiocrats, surely there was an opportunity for a leader who would speak to those Canadians who see themselves as responsible citizens of the world. We spent much of the 2000s telling ourselves that “the world needs more Canada”, and if anyone embodied that slogan, it was Michael Ignatieff.

But while Ignatieff and his handlers failed to communicate a clear vision, and take advantage of his intellectual strengths, Potter also makes a disheartening observation about the Canadian electorate--one sadly confirmed, I have to admit, as I regularly return to Canada as an 'oustide' observer:
Why did Michael Ignatieff – or more plausibly, the people helping devise his political brand and their electoral strategy – stay as far as possible from these issues? Probably because they believe that Stephen Harper actually has us pegged, that we are a nation of Tim Horton’s-addicted moral suburbanites for whom that “the world needs Canada” was always just a slogan for selling books and lattes to the elites downtown. But if the Liberals are afraid to speak to their natural constituency in their native tongue, and if their leader’s CV is largely a cause for quiet embarrassment, what does that say about the party, or the country?

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Claude Ely and the Pentecostal Roots of Rock'n'Roll

NPR's All Things Considered had a marvelous little segment on Brother Claude Ely, a backcountry Pentecostal preacher who's probably impacted you more than you might realize.

You probably already know some of Brother Claude's work if you've heard Johnny Cash's haunting rendition of "Ain't No Grave" on American VI, or if you heard it playing in the background of this year's Deadliest Catch trailer--a song Ely wrote when he was 12 years old and miraculously healed. The NPR piece, featuring his nephew's quest to know the man, includes some fantastic archival recordings (including a recording of the night Ely died leading a revival from the organ--he died with his boots on, so to speak).

[Tulane scholar] Fontenot says that it might be hard to tease out where different musical traditions come from. But he believes that Pentecostal music had an impact on rock 'n' roll. He says you can hear that impact in Brother Claude Ely's music.

Many of the early rockers — Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash — all grew up in the Pentecostal church, according to Hensley.

Be sure to listen to it: just reading the story doesn't begin to do it justice. It's a convincing audio portrait in which you'll hear the later music of Presley, Cash, and Lewis prefigured in Pentecostal worship.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Interview on WGVU's "Common Threads"

I had forgotten about this, since the interviews were done a few weeks back, but the local public radio station program, "Common Threads," has posted a two-part interview I did with Fred Stella about Letters to a Young Calvinist.

You can listen to two half-hour segments: Part 1 and Part 2.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Korean translation of "Introducing Radical Orthodoxy"

I just received copies of the new Korean translation of Introducing Radical Orthodoxy: Mapping a Post-Secular Theology, first published in 2004. It is available from CLC Korea.

The Korean cover basically reproduces the cover design of the first English edition. However, subsequent print editions of the English book have a slightly different cover since the Getty Museum, home of the Saenredam painting featured on the cover, stipulated that no text could be superimposed on the image. Go check your edition of Introducing Radical Orthodoxy now to see if you have one of the early collector editions! (Not.)

This new book will soon be joined by Korean translations of Letters to a Young Calvinist and The Fall of Interpretation: Philosophical Foundations for a Creational Hermeneutic. (And stay posted for news about a forthcoming second edition of The Fall of Interpretation from Baker Academic. More soon.)