JIS X 1998
BEYOND CULTURE WARS?
JIS X 1998: 1-16
CHRISTIANS IN THE ACADEMY:
OVERCOMING THE SILENCE
William R. Marty
University of Memphis
The academy in the United States is almost wholly silent about Christianity, at least in the sense of providing Christian perspectives on the various fields. This silence about Christianity, and often real hostility toward it, ripples outward from the universities to all the great institutions of society–the courts, media, entertainment industry, elementary and secondary schools–affecting all of society and culture. Silence or hostility at this great center of the life of the mind affects all else. To accept this silence in higher education is to surrender control of the institutions, mind, and spirit of the culture to those either indifferent or hostile to Christianity. Christians should break the silence by reaching out to other Christians both on campus and professionally, by establishing the whole apparatus of intellectual life, using the stress upon openness, pluralism, tolerance, diversity, and multiculturalism to wedge open a place for a Christian voice, including existing professional organizations and forums, and developing organizational and legal strategies to protect that voice.
JIS X 1998: 17-30
CAN FEMINISM BE RATIONAL?
Ellen R. Klein
The culture wars must not be viewed as over, for if they are, the wrong side has won. That aspect of multiculturalism which has infected American colleges and universities known as “feminism” has been especially insidious. Underlying its destructive force is its fundamental commitment to epistemological relativism. This essay offers an allegory to demonstrate the logical absurdity, intellectual paucity, and, ironically, ultimate sexist nature of contemporary academic feminism. The conclusion follows that traditional-minded academics need to take up the intellectual charge and challenge feminism on their own battlefields in what may be the last chance to win the culture wars and reapprorpiate feminism for the good of men and women everywhere.
JIS X 1998: 31-48
CULTURAL ORIGINS OF NEW AGE CULTS
Daniel W. Hollis III
Jacksonville State University
Western culture abounds in New Age cults, which have grown dramatically in size and influence since the 1970s. New Age cults represent a crisis of cultural identity, a major dilemma of Western civilization at the end of the twentieth century. Such cults reflect and contribute to the disintegration of social institutions, ranging from turmoil in mainline religions, a weakening of business, legal, and political ethics, the tenuous role of science, and the failure of public educational institutions to create informed and independent minds. The New Age, with its multiple historical roots, also gauges a widespread desire for the recovery of a virtuous society, certainty about the material universe, spiritual meaning, and a nurturing social and familial unity. The New Age has emerged as one path in that quest. Yet what is needed is the restoration of a culture of virtue.
JIS X 1998: 49-66
A CONGREGATIONAL REMAPPING OF CULTURE WARS *
According to many, the United States is embroiled in a culture war between religious conservatives, who believe in a transcendent moral authority, and religious liberals, who hold that moral truth is historically and contextually conditioned. Amidst this conflict is a cultural anomaly called the evangelical left, which blends conservative theology with liberal politics. An ethnographic study of an evangelical left congregation suggests that their social and political action is neither liberal nor progressive. Instead, this congregation has created a local culture that resists and remaps the traditional boundaries of the culture wars. This remapping centers on the concept of covenantal relationships, which envelops every aspect of their fellowship, including theology and morality as well as social action. Yet the relational focus of this fellowship is not a new or unique cultural formation, but rather a rediscovery of traditional Christian social action.
* David Morsey Award for Best Biblical Exegesis, 1998.
JIS X 1998: 67-84
RELATIVISM AND THE PROMISE OF TOLERANCE
Bruce W. Speck
University of Memphis
Many people claim that they are relativists and proponents of tolerance. Yet relativism cannot foster tolerance in part because it is untenable as a coherent philosophy. There are at least three types of relativists–novice, generous, and radical. All three types demonstrate that even renowned scholars who hold to relativism are not tolerant, since a tolerant relativist is a contradiction in terms. Relativism is also theologically incoherent, since neutrality is impossible concerning truth claims. However, tolerance is essential for the social order to prosper. The ecumenical statement, “Evangelicals and Catholics Together,” represents a model of tolerance in interreligious circles with clear promise for the rest of society. Since tolerance is founded on Biblical truths, the Church is responsible for promoting tolerance without sacrificing the truth. Once the Church deals with its own intolerance in a spirit of humility, it can become a catalyst in promoting tolerance to those of varied beliefs.
JIS X 1998: 85-100
THE LAST MAN’S CULTURE — REVISITED
Masaryk University-Czech Republic
At the end of the second millennium, we seem to be somewhat nervous again. Twentieth-century scientific developments have opened up fascinating new fields of study both in the micro- and macrocosmos. Yet none of the new codes, paradigms, and ideologies appear to bring us nearer to some new and generally shared creed. Life without work for many, not only in the Third World, the successful integration of Europe, armed conflicts on local battlefields, as well as superficialities on TV screens, are our near-to-be contemporaneity. The seemingly unlimited technical possibilities of artificial intelligence, the relativization of civic values, and a cartoon-like culture portend risks for the future. Yet, while secular and lacking a binding sense of responsibility, postmodern society epitomizes spiritual hunger. Nurtured by good family traditions, the spiritual quest promises an open-ended, post-Godotian future.
JIS X 1998: 101-114
HUMAN RIGHTS AND POLISH REALITY
Rzeszow Pedagogical University-Poland
Contrary to widespread relativism in the contemporary world, the idea of human rights argues for the existence of objective values. This idea rooted in the Christian tradition unifies, in a way, Anglo-American and Continental political philosophy. Under communism in Poland, the clearness of the idea of human rights established an important weapon in the hands of the Polish opposition. After the collapse of communism in 1989, the political elite in Poland was faced with the task of building a new structure for the state. However, embracing the idea of the welfare state as a main factor in the process of transition to democracy, Poland shares many dilemmas of the wealthy Western countries, making the shift from communism much slower.
JIS X 1998: 115-141
THE THIRD YUGOSLAVIA:
ILLYRIAN LEAGUE OF AUTONOMOUS REPUBLICS?
Institute for Interdisciplinary Research
This essay offers hope that beyond the specter and tragedy of the Yugoslav civil war lie the prospects for peace, democratization, economic and political reconstruction, and the evolution of a democratic Third Yugoslavia. But, to realize this hope, there is a need for the development of a genuine civic culture and civil society in the Yugoslav successor states based on democratic values, pluralism, and tolerance, rooted in the conception of universal human rights, constitutionalism, and equality before the law. The South Slavs may have to retrieve their historical memory which predates the fateful divisions along ethnic, cultural, and religious lines. The Swiss model of autonomous cantons, four major languages, neutrality, but a pronounced common national identity is also instructive for democratic prospects of a possible future South Slav (con-) federation and peace in the Balkans. A proposed Illyrian Constitution would bind the South Slavs together, reconnecting individual human rights to community. Above all, moral and spiritual renewal are the necessary precondition for peace and reconciliation, as well as economic and political reconstruction and the genesis of a democratic Third Yugoslavia.
JIS X 1998: 142-156
CULTURE AND ETHNIC IDENTITY IN DAGHESTAN
Institute of Oriental Studies-Moscow
This field research report summarizes the results of interviews during special research trips to Daghestan from 1992-96. These interviews were conducted with both secular and religious leaders in villages, district centers, and the capital of Makhachkala. We found indigenous cultures, ethnic identities, and the entire North Caucasus region in transition from a Russian sphere of cultural and political influence to that of Islam, epitomized by a split cultural and generational identity of fathers versus sons. Yet indigenous cultures show great resilience toward both the former Soviet influences of atheism and modernization and the contemporary revival of Islam, which seeks to integrate all aspects of individual and community life. Curiously, just like the British Empire, the former imperial Soviet State evokes ambivalent feelings of nostalgia and admiration, mixed with apprehension, while Islam now appears as the major agent of transformation of indigenous cultures toward a new geo-political identity.
JIS X 1998: 159-172
THE CIRCLED WAGONS OF SCIENCE
Eastern Nazarene College
Darwinism: Science or Philosophy? Edited by Jon Buell & Virginia Hearn. Richardson, TX:
Foundation for Thought & Ethics, 1994. Cloth. 227 p. $37.50.
Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels With Science. By Paul R. Gross
& Norman Levitt. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994. Cloth. 315 p. $25.95.
Reason in the Balance: The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law and Education. By
Phillip E. Johnson. Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995. Cloth. 245 p. $19.95.