Education is about learning to think. Much of what we call thinking, however, is a hodge-podge of repetitious self-talk, opinion, and cutting and pasting of second-hand ideas. Moreover, thinking in the present has often been alien to scholars who were tempted to think abstractly. But life and thought belong together and require each other, as Plotinus pointed out many centuries ago: [T]he object of contemplation is living and life, and the two together are one (Ennead 3.8.8). Presently, many women and men in the academic world are thinking concretely within the context of their own lives and with acknowledged accountability to broader communities with whom they think and to whom they are answerable. The essays in this volume consider Christianity as an aspect of North American culture, bringing the critical tools of the academy to thinking about some of the perplexing and pressing problems of contemporary public life.
Three interactive and interdependent themes traverse these essays: gender, the effects of media culture, and institutions. Each of these themes has been central to Margaret Miles's work for thirty years. Each understands corporeality as fundamental both to subjectivity and society. Miles finds that Christianity, critically appropriated, provides ideas and methods for thinking concretely about life in North American society.