Jason Jewell on Why Christians Should Read the “Great Books”
Date: February 25th, 2013
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How could reading Plato’s Euthydemus have helped a Protestant pastor avoid seriously embarassing her profession and faith at an Applebee’s restaurant? Could reading classic literature help inform Christians and other religious believers more about their faith and moral convictions? And what does Spiderman have to do with the Great Books of Western Civilization? The answer to the last question is ”absolutely nothing.” However, Prof. Jason Jewell of Faulkner University returns to the show to help us sort out the first two questions and inspire more of us, possibly including Tony, to read more of the Great Books. Prof. Jewell explains how he is partially through a seven-year project to read the canon of Great Books, and how he has been doing this publicly on his personal blog The Western Tradition (which listeners are invited to visit). This interview was inspired by one of Jason’s posts that connected a rather nasty note written on a restaurant bill by a pastor that went viral on the internet to, of all things, Plato’s Euthydemus. Jason explains how Plato talked about the fallacy of equivocation and how this might have helped the pastor avoid the understandable critiques of hypocrisy that were levelled at her. We then dive into a more general discussion of Great Books, defining what that term means and how a book becomes “great.” Jason provides a number of examples and then walks us through how these works can help deepen our religious understanding of the world around us. Prof. Jewell further discusses what motivated him to take up a seven year journey to read the generally-recognized canon of Great Books in Western Civilization, a trip of which he has been on for three years now. He leaves us with timely advice on how to engage in such a journey ourselves and contemplates the reasons why these works have been overlooked in academia in recent years but how, where, and why they may be making a comeback in contemporary curriculum. He finishes by offering advice on why people like Tony, who is not a Great Book fan, should be taking his challenge more seriously. Maybe, just maybe, he won a convert. Please feel free to leave a comment on our Facebook Fan Page listing your favorite Great Book. Recorded: February 20, 2013.
The Western Tradition, Jason Jewell’s blog where he is reading and reviewing the Great Books of Western Civilization (join him!).
“How Great Books Can Help Christians Avoid Looking Uncharitable and Stupid,” blog post on The Western Tradition.
Faulkner University’s Great Books Program.
Jason Jewell on John Locke and Religious Toleration.
Art Carden on Christian Ethics, Charity, and Economics.
Corey Olsen on J.R.R. Tolkien, Religion, and The Hobbitt.
Theodore Malloch on Spiritual Capital and Virtuous Business.
Christopher Grenda on Religious Satire during the Enlightenment.
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