December 19, 2015

IT'S A PURITAN NATION:

The Death of God Is Greatly Exaggerated : The happy warrior for a muscular Christianity on why faith and science are not opposed, and why the public square benefits from expressions of belief. (KATE BACHELDER, Dec. 18, 2015, WSJ)

If religion in America is dying, then someone will have to explain Eric Metaxas. The happy warrior for a muscular Christianity displays nothing but confidence about the durability of belief in modern America. In fact, he seems to hope more Christians will ignore the pressure--from the media, the courts and other liberal bastions--to keep clear of the public sphere. The message has made him especially popular with evangelical Christians.

"Part of my life's thesis is that we live in a culture that has bought into the patently silly idea that there is a divide between the secular world and the faith world," he says, the idea that religion can be walled off exclusively into private life or pitched altogether, particularly when 70% or so of U.S. residents identify as Christian. "Culture presents us with this false choice between channels that are exclusively faith-based" versus those that are "exclusively secular." Yet "that's not how most Americans process the world." [...]

His work is a "strange amalgam," as Mr. Metaxas puts it. He churns out poetry, children's stories and 600-page tomes; he is a devout follower of Jesus Christ who doesn't want for a sense of irony. This is a guy whose endeavors include a nationally syndicated radio show "about everything" and a New York event series, " Socrates in the City," that explores "life, God and other small topics."

An unwillingness to talk publicly about matters of faith and ultimate reality has left "tons of people dissatisfied," he says, in an expansive conversation this week. "You'd never know that from watching TV or listening to radio. You'd think the only thing people argue about is politics." He puts everything into a blender on his radio show: On Wednesday he sized up the Republican foreign-policy debate; on Monday he included a "Miracle Mondays" segment in which he chats with guests about extraordinary phenomena.

Mr. Metaxas pushes back against what he calls the "lie that faith and science are somehow opposed to each other." He thinks the two work in tandem. As he wrote last year in these pages: "There are more than 200 known parameters necessary for a planet to support life--every single one of which must be perfectly met, or the whole thing falls apart." In sum: "Can every one of those many parameters have been perfect by accident?"

This resonates with people. "They say: 'You know, it didn't make sense to me that the universe made no sense.' " In his book about the miraculous, Mr. Metaxas cites the Christian scholar C.S. Lewis, who wrote in his 1952 book "Mere Christianity": "If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning."

But Mr. Metaxas says he's "keenly sensitive that there are people listening who don't share my point of view. And I want to talk about whatever we're talking about in a way that's respectful of those people." That isn't the conservative talk-radio model--venting about the latest political outrage, with a financial incentive to foment anger among loyal listeners.

Posted by at December 19, 2015 9:30 PM

  

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