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New books this month: Nihilism, ethics, foreign affairs, and Christian Heritage

January 6th, 2012 by admin

In one of our happiest Januarys yet, four brand new books are hitting the stores this month. And, for those professors out there, all of them are prime reading for your future classes.

And, here they are.

Shows about Nothing: Nihilism in Popular Culture

Thomas S. Hibbs

Probing deep into the canon of all things screen, Thomas Hibbs uncovers the disturbing truths about the contemporary media landscape. Beneath the shallow facade of evil lies the Nietzschean framework of nihilism—a nothingness that undermines notions of right and wrong while destroying any sense of meaning or purpose. Yet what makes this nihilism even more profound is Nietzsche’s warning that liberal democracies are especially susceptible to such nothingness. In his examples, Hibbs shows how the popular story lines and characters of our time often rule out any possibility of making a "right" decision. Ultimately, Shows about Nothing toes the line between something and nothing to suggest how popular culture can move beyond nihilism.

"Hibbs knows Hollywood—from its self-indulgent nihilism to its capacity of art that nourishes the soul. Shows about Nothing offers both a perceptive analysis of the artistic merits of a wide range of film and TV shows and a diagnosis of their cultural significance."
—William Peter Blatty, author of The Exorcist and, most recently, Dimiter

An Introduction to Christian Ethics: History, Movements, People

Harry J. Huebner

In this pedagogically astute introduction, Harry Huebner approaches Christian ethics as theology embodied in the lives of real people. And he maintains that matters of justice, poverty, power, and violence too often go without the appropriate Christian response—of the "Word becoming Flesh." In this comprehensive volume, Huebner skillfully addresses the ethical challenges raised by social philosophers as well as Latin American, African American, Aboriginal, feminist, and peace theologians. An Introduction to Christian Ethics spans the centuries—from Athens to contemporary America and beyond—and collects some of the most influential voices in Christian ethics on both classical theories and contemporary moral issues. Huebner's careful presentation allows each of these voices—and their distinctive cultural settings—to ring through history and across social boundaries. Huebner provides teachers and students with a solid foundation upon which to build a faithful approach to ethical thought and practice.

"By placing the great figures of Christian tradition historically and biographically, Huebner illumines both their unique particularity and the ways in which they are models for today. Readers will be rewarded with new insights into 'thinkers' who come alive as 'believers' and 'practitioners.'"
—Lisa Sowle Cahill, Monan Professor of Theology, Boston College

"Huebner's introduction presents an accurate, reliable, and comprehensive historical argument. Truly impressive in scope, it offers a recovery of Jesus in Christian ethics that is ecclesiologically engaged. I can only celebrate this huge accomplishment!"
—Glen Stassen, Lewis B. Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics, Fuller Theological Seminary

Religion and Foreign Affairs: Essential Readings

Dennis R. Hoover & Douglas M. Johnston

Dennis Hoover and Douglas Johnston here present the writings of leading scholars, revealing distinctive approaches to religion and global politics. Religion and Foreign Affairs offers readers a broad selection of essays, ranging across cultures and worldviews. From the ethics of force and peacemaking to globalization and American foreign policy, this compendium provides a solid introduction to the field of religion and foreign affairs that will stimulate discussion and encourage intelligent practice.

"An impressive, timely compilation of some of the best writings on religion and foreign affairs. Hoover and Johnston provide a critical overview and a helpful division of the articles into key issues areas, including secularization, democracy, conflict, development, human rights, globalization and peacemaking. Students and teachers of religion and global politics will find the volume immensely valuable as a unified source for grappling with the complexities of this topic."
—Monica Duffy Toft, Associate Professor of Public Policy and Director, Initiative on Religion in International Affairs, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

Exploring Christian Heritage: A Reader in History and Theology 

C. Douglas Weaver, Rady Roldán-Figueroa & Brandon Frick

Exploring Christian Heritage provides students and teachers with a rich and substantial introduction to the texts that have shaped the Christian faith. Including significant works penned by Augustine, Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Wesley, John Calvin, and Karl Barth, among others, this collection also highlights essential movements—from the second to the twentieth centuries—often glossed over in primary sources readers. From Pentecostalism and the Baptists to feminism and religious liberty movements, Exploring Christian Heritage succinctly integrates the most influential voices throughout Christian history and theology into one invaluable and accessible resource.

"Exploring Christian Heritage meets a vital need for those who teach and study church history and theology. I highly recommend this book."
—W. Glenn Jonas, Charles B. Howard Professor of Religion and Chair of the Department of Religion, Campbell University

"The long and varied history of the church presents a dilemma for professors and students alike; the former wish to display the riches of the Christian tradition while the latter want to get to the point. Exploring Christian Heritage ably accomplishes both tasks by presenting the key ideas in primary documents from a broad representation of leading thinkers. Outside of the classroom, this book provides pastors with a wealth of sermon illustrations and laypersons with a greater sense of belonging to the larger family of God."
—Anthony Chute, Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Church History, California Baptist University, Riverside, California


WPR "At Issue" interviews Dennis Goldford on political compromise

December 1st, 2011 by admin

A "contentious issue" discussed in a "non-contentious manner." These are the words of WPR's "At Issue" host Ben Merens in introducing the topic approached by Dennis Goldford live on the air yesterday. Goldford, whose new book The Constitution of Religious Freedom: God, Politics, and the First Amendment will release in March, spoke for an hour on "At Issue" in response to a recent New York Times op-ed on political compromise.

Click here to listen to the full interview, or listen below.

Yenor's Family Politics deep, thorough

November 7th, 2011 by admin

The declining modern family, if statistics have any weight, is a well known phenomenon. Additionally, it is no secret that politics have had their say in the issue. Enter Scott Yenor's recently released Family Politics: The Idea of Marriage in Modern Political Thought, reviewed this month in the Claremont Review of Books.

THE STATISTICS ON THE DECLINE OF THE American family are by now all too familiar: the rate of out-of-wedlock births in the United States stands at 40% (in the African-American community, nearly 70%); divorce rates at 43%; and co-habitation rates have doubled among 30- to 44-year-olds in the past 10 years. Though the divorce rate has ticked downward, contemporary trends in family life are hardly encouraging.

As he describes them, our culture wars over the family pit the entire liberal tradition, from Locke, Rousseau, Hegel, and Mill to modern feminism and even such neoconservatives as James Q. Wilson, against the moral and religious teachings of the Catholic Church. Relying on Pope John Paul II's metaphysical and religious arguments is perfectly understandable given Yenor's contention that modern political thought has had the effect, and in many cases the intention, of undermining the natural and conventional foundations of the family.

Scott Yenor's new book, Family Politics: The Idea of Marriage in Modern Political Thought, is a philosophic reflection on the troubles of the modern family. In several hundred pages he covers a wide range of the most important modern philosophic, political, social scientific, and religious works on the family. Few treatments of the foundational problems of the family are this thorough or deep.

Read the full review online here.

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