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It’s 1974 in DeKalb County, Illinois, and the planets have failed to align for Roy Conlon. Widowed and broke, he finds that his eight-year-old son Eric is suddenly a mystery to him. The boy has become aware of a sky awhirl with stars and of the universe outside his small Midwestern town. And as powerful forces pull Eric away, Roy’s efforts to hold onto his son are threatened by weakness, guilt, and his participation in a foolish crime.
All over the world secular rationalist governments and judicial authorities have been challenged by increasingly forceful claims made on behalf of divine law. For those who believe that reason—not faith—should be the basis of politics and the law, proponents of divine law raise theoretical and practical concerns that must be addressed seriously and respectfully. As Mark J. Lutz makes plain in this illuminating book, they have an important ally in Plato, whose long neglected Laws provides an eye-opening analysis of the relation between political philosophy and religion and a powerful defense of political rationalism. Plato mounts his case, Lutz reveals, through a productive dialogue between his Athenian Stranger and various devout citizens that begins by exploring the common ground between them, but ultimately establishes the authority of rational political philosophy to guide the law. The result will fascinate not only political theorists but also scholars at all levels with an interest in the intersection of religion and politics or in the questions that surround ethics and civic education.
Moral Imagination, Meaning, and Politics
This highly readable book offers a contemporary interpretation of the political thought of Edmund Burke, drawing on his experiences to illuminate and address fundamental questions of politics and society that are of particular interest today. For Burke, one’s imaginative context provides meaning and is central to judgment and behavior. Many of Burke’s ideas can be brought together around his concept of the “moral imagination,” which has received little systematic treatment in the context of Burke’s own experience. In Edmund Burke for Our Time, Byrne asserts that Burke’s politics is reflective of unique and sophisticated ideas about how people think and learn and about determinants of political behavior. Burke’s thought is shown to offer much of contemporary value regarding the sources of order and meaning and the potential for a modern crisis if those sources are weakened or obscured. In addition to providing a re-interpretation of Burke’s response to a number of historical situations—including problems of colonial or imperial policy with regard to India, Ireland, and America—Byrne looks at the relationship between emotion and reason, and the role of culture in shaping political, social, and personal behaviors. To assist even readers with limited knowledge of Burke, the book includes biographical and historical information to provide needed context. Byrne’s important study will appeal to political philosophers, literature scholars, and those interested in addressing problems of politics and society in this late-modern age.groundbreaking study of the Protestant Left is a welcome addition. Embattled Ecumenism will appeal to scholars of U.S. religion, politics, and culture, as well as historians of evangelicalism and general readers interested in U.S. history and religion.
The National Council of Churches, the Vietnam War, and the Trials of the Protestant Left
The Vietnam War and its polarizing era challenged, splintered, and changed The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. (NCC), which was motivated by its ecumenical Christian vision to oppose that war and unify people. The NCC’s efforts on the war exposed its strengths and imploded its weaknesses in ways instructive for religious institutions that bring their faith into politics. Embattled Ecumenism explores the ecumenical vision, anti-Vietnam War efforts, and legacy of the NCC. Gill’s monumental study serves as a window into the mainline Protestant manner of engaging political issues at a unique time of national crisis and religious transformation. In vibrant prose, Gill illuminates an ecumenical institution, vision, and movement that has been largely misrepresented by the religious right, dismissed by the secular left, misunderstood by laity, and ignored by scholars outside of ecumenical circles. At a time when the majority of scholarly work is committed to looking at the religious right, Gill’s groundbreaking study of the Protestant Left is a welcome addition. Embattled Ecumenism will appeal to scholars of U.S. religion, politics, and culture, as well as historians of evangelicalism and general readers interested in U.S. history and religion.
The New Art Examiner was the only successful art magazine ever to come out of Chicago. It had nearly a three-decade long run, and since its founding in 1974 by Jane Addams Allen and Derek Guthrie, no art periodical published in the Windy City has lasted longer or has achieved the critical mass of readers and admirers that it did. The Essential New Art Examiner gathers the most memorable and celebrated articles from this seminal publication. First a newspaper, then a magazine, the New Art Examiner succeeded unlike no other periodical of its time. Before the word “blog” was ever spoken, it was the source of news and information for Chicago-area artists. And as its reputation grew, the New Art Examiner gained a national audience and exercised influence far beyond the Midwest. As one critic put it, “it fought beyond its weight class.” The articles in The Essential New Art Examiner are organized chronologically. Each section of thebook begins with a new essay by the original editor of the pieces therein that reconsiders the era and larger issues at play in the art world when they were first published. The result is a fascinating portrait of the individuals who ran the New Art Examiner and an inside look at the artistic trendsand aesthetic agendas that guided it. Derek Guthrie and Jane Addams Allen, for instance, had their own renegade style. James Yood never shied away from a good fight. And Ann Wiens was heralded for embracing technologies and design. The story of the New Art Examiner is the story of a constantly evolving publication, shaped by talented editors and the times in which it was printed. Now, more than three decades after the journal’s founding, The Essential New Art Examiner brings together the best examples of this groundbreaking publication: great editing, great writing, a feisty staff who changed and adapted as circumstances dictated—a publication that rolled with the times and the art of the times. With passion, insight, and editorial brilliance, the staff of the New Art Examiner turned a local magazine into a national institution.
Skiing in Russia and the Rise of Soviet Biathlon
Nowhere in the world was the sport of biathlon, a combination of cross-country skiing and rifle marksmanship, taken more seriously than in the Soviet Union, and no other nation garnered greater success at international venues. From the introduction of modern biathlon in 1958 to the USSR’s demise in 1991, athletes representing the Soviet Union won almost half of all possible medals awarded in world championship and Olympic competition. The inherent characteristics of biathlon, which requires stamina and precision in a quasi-military setting, dovetailed with important concepts promoted by the Soviet government. The sport also supplied an opportune platform for promoting the State’s socialist viewpoint and military might. Biathlon, in other words, was about more than simply winning Olympic medals. Currently the most popular winter spectator sport in Europe, biathlon looms large in the history of global athletics, and in the event’s early narrative the Soviet Union was its most important player. William D. Frank, a former nationally ranked competitor and a scholar of Russian history, is in a unique position to tell this story. His highly readable book is the first in-depth look at how the Soviet government interpreted the sport of skiing as a cultural, ideological, and political tool throughout the course of seven decades. For scholars and general readers alike, Everyone to Skis! represents a fascinating perspective on the Soviet Union through the history of a sport closely tied to the homeland. In the words of Lenin: “Do you ski? Do it without fail! Learn how and set off for the mountains—you must. In the mountains winter is wonderful! It’s sheer delight, and it smells like Russia.”
Women Against the Tsar
Violent movements that opposed the existing political order erupted all over Europe in the course of the 19th century. Nowhere was revolutionary violence more visible and dramatic than in Russia. There, revolutionaries took the lives of dozens of people, most, though not all of them, high officials. Accepting the label “terrorist” as a badge of honor, the revolutionaries insisted upon the morality and justice of their cause, and they were fully prepared to sacrifice their own lives for the sake of it. Unlike most people considered terrorists today, Russian revolutionaries selected their targets carefully, focusing on those whom they regarded as responsible for the oppressive political and social order and mourning unanticipated civilian casualties. The goal: the replacement of the current order by one that would genuinely represent and serve the people.