Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What are you reading, Joey Aszterbaum?

After Virtue by Alisdair MacIntyre was a gift from my brother-in-law (and Hope professor) Ian DiOrio. I had been wanting to read this book for a while because of its enormous influence on the theologians that have impacted my life the most. The reason After Virtue is such a seminal work is because MacIntyre — a moral philosopher who taught at Notre Dame — gives a sustained, damning critique of the Enlightenment and the modern age. He traces the history of moral philosophy from modern times (the first edition was published in 1981) through the middle ages and into antiquity. He argues that many of our moral problems in the west seem unsolvable because the nature of moral discourse underwent a sea-change during the Enlightenment.

I am a voracious reader. I'm always working on two or three books at a time. I'm also a fast reader, but After Virtue is not the kind of book that I can burn through. I've been working through the book for months and am only half-way through it. At this point in my reading of After Virtue, MacIntyre has completed his historical survey of moral philosophy and is presenting why the real choice in moral philosophy is between Aristotle, whose account of the virtues was interpreted and passed on by middle age philosophers like Thomas Aquinas, and Nietzsche, who saw most clearly what a post-Christian moral philosophy must look like.

Despite what a hard slog it is for me to complete the book, I'm very happy that I'm reading it. The most challenging endeavors sometimes offer the greatest reward. After Virtue was a watershed moment in moral philosophy, especially in exploring the cultural shift away from modernity and what that means. It is the sort of book that ends up changing everything that comes after it, so it's not a book to ignore. I recommend it highly.

Over the last ten years I have been mostly reading theology, history and philosophy. I tend to break up my serious non-fiction with fiction. I love the classic American literature of John Steinbeck, the moral mad science of Kurt Vonnegut, and simple page-turners like John Grisham. I just completed reading Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies by David Bentley Hart, in which he excoriates the "new atheists" (Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, et al.) for getting history, religion and violence all wrong. I loved it.

Joey Aszterbaum is a biblical studies major in the SPS program at Hope and is scheduled to graduate in 2012. His hope is to do graduate work in theology in order to serve the church either in ordained ministry or as a university professor. Joey enjoys working with his wife Jolynne (a creative wedding photographer), homeschooling his four children (ages 5 through 12), and blogging about Jesus, politics and the arts.

After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theology by Alasdair MacIntyre. University of Notre Dame Press; 3rd Edition, 2007.

Available at University of Notre Dame Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Better World Books.

May also be ordered through the HIU Bookstore.

The 1981 edition is available for check out from the HIU Darling Library.
Click here for the Call Number.

1 comment:

Lindsey Sinnott said...

I greatly enjoyed this book as well! Definitely not a light read, but well worth pondering the concepts that it brings up for us to reflect on.