Interviews with Christian intellectuals, faithful thinkers, and other human beings writing well.
Christian Humanist Profiles 253: Eckart Frahm
Some of us first encounter them as the wicked city that Jonah eventually visits. For others they’re one of the Asian empires that Herodotus surveys on his way to the grand showdown between the Persians and the Greek-speaking city-states. Some of us have run into their legendary figures Sardanapallus and Semiramis in Dante or Byron. And of course some of us still aren’t sure how to avoid the Gorge of Eternal Peril when the old man asks us “What is the capital of Assyria?” (We’ll address that one later.) But relatively few of us know much about the Assyrians as they present themselves and how they fit into the changing landscape of ancient civilization. So Christian Humanist Profiles is glad today to welcome Eckart Frahm, whose recent book Assyria: The Rise and Fall of the World’s First Empire does just what the title promises, showing us what that ancient world looks like from inside Assyria as well as the spectrum of views from beyond the fall of those grand urban walls.
Christian Humanist Profiles 252: Trevor Laurence
You have heard that it is said: love your neighbor and hate your enemy. Translations might differ, but what follows comes across well in most translations: Jesus enjoins those hearing the Sermon on the Mount to love enemies and pray for persecutors. Those unsettling commandments never stop scandalizing those who spend time meditating on them, and those who contemplate the New Testament and pray the Old Testament run into another problem: certain of the Psalms pray regarding enemies, but few readers would mistake them for loving intercessions. How can a follower of the one who forgave his enemies from the cross pray onthe same God that God break those enemies’ teeth? That question has always been before us, whether we know it or not, and Dr. Trevor Laurence’s book Cursing with God takes it as seriously as Holy Scriptures demand, articulating a theology of Scripture, of forgiveness, and of the role of the faithful along the way. Christian Humanist Profiles is glad to welcome Dr. Laurence to the show.
Christian Humanist Profiles 251: Shaun Ross
Theology and literature have always seemed a natural pair to me. In fact, I’ve written a Master’s Thesis examining Ezekiel with the help of William Blake; another digging into Christology through Aemelia Lanier and John Milton; and a doctoral dissertation arguing that Spenser, Shakespeare, and Milton were making moves in theological ethics that the theological academy only caught up to in the late twentieth century. So when I found out that Dr. Shaun Ross had a book for me to read about the Eucharist and seventeenth-century English poets, I knew I was going to be talking to my kind of thinker. Shaun’s recent book The Eucharist, Poetics, and Secularization from Oxford University Press poses some really great questions about some really great poems, and Christian Humanist Profiles is really glad to welcome him to the show.
Christian Humanist Profiles 250: Heather Hoover
The stereotype, whether we want to dismantle it or acknowledge it, holds that those who teach college English begin a quest in graduate school to be rid of teaching writing. As early as the mid-twentieth century Richard M. Weaver told the same story, and Weaver was among the first to take that stereotype not as an acknowledgment of rerum naturem but as the story of a fall, a decline from a day when the professor of rhetoric stood at the pinnacle of undergraduate education to a moment when those who still teach it in mid-career must have fumbled somehow. Mercifully, in the last decades of the 20th century and the first decades of the 21st, a sort of rhetorical renaissance has blossomed in English departments, and Dr. Heather Hoover’s book Composition as Conversation: Seven Virtues for Effective Writing has taken a seat at that grand banquet of teachers who celebrate writing rather than fleeing the same. Christian Humanist Profiles is glad to welcome Dr. Hoover to talk with us about the book.
Theology Beer Camp Remix: Myron Penner
With Theology Beer Camp 2023 just around the corner (alas, I won’t be here, as I’m trying to be judicious taking days off during year one of my career change), I wanted to get Myron Penner’s talk from last year’s camp, along with our conversation that happened a spell later, out to you.
Here’s the backstory: Myron and I did a live podcast back in October 2022, but the laptop on which the interview was being recorded cut out 30 minutes in. So Myron and I got together on Zoom some time later and had a conversation, with the benefit of a few months’ reflection, based on our notes from that weekend.
Visit www.christianhumanist.org to view Penner's talk from Theology Beer Camp for some context.
Christian Humanist Profiles 249: Lyric Theology with Thomas Gardner
Genesis–Bereshith in the Hebrew–opens with grand narratives of beginnings and generations, and the New Testament starts with four distinctive narrative accounts of Jesus, the anointed one. For traditions that consider theology an interpretive endeavor at the outset, then, stories are the start, and Psalms and hymns and prophetic verse follow close behind. But somewhere along the line, the propositions and syllogisms and refutations and such that get their start as commentaries on the narrative and Psalmic and apocalyptic start to make demands of their own, and theology becomes even more a ground for contest than it seems to be in the texts that we call Bible. Where does that leave us when it comes to theology? Dr. Thomas Gardner’s book Lyric Theology calls us back to verse and narrative and on ahead into film, reminding us that it can’t hurt to come back home when it comes to theology.
I stumbled upon this podcast by happy accident. The intellectual presence of the hosts, deep reading of the material,and skillfull questioning coupled with the intellectual stature and depth of the guests is truly remarkable. I come from the tradition of faithful listening of "On Being" with Krista Tippet listening and find the Chrisian Humanist podcast has developed many of the same ideas and topic areas, but at a truly "live option" level, that not only engages the spirit, but the mind as well. Thank you - well done!
Gracious, Disciplined, Enlightening Interviews with Some of the Best Writers
These interviews are conducted in a way that lets the personality and thought of great writers shine through in an invaluably accessible way. The delight and insight are the products of the considerate engagement of the interviewers with the work of the writers--a truly rare gift.