The Olasky Interview: Eric Metaxas

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, August 14th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.

Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: The Olasky Interview.

This week, we bring you part of a conversation between WORLD Editor-in-Chief Marvin Olasky and best-selling author Eric Metaxas.

EICHER: This conversation is before students at The King’s College in New York City. We pick it up as Olasky and Metaxas are talking about how social media affect our ability to love others.

MARVIN OLASKY: Does that hurt neighborliness in terms of people paying attention to what’s going on right next to them. Are we too busy with our smart phones and our devices?

ERIC METAXAS: Is there anybody here on his smartphone at the moment because he will be asked to leave. Is anybody knitting right now? Anybody doing anything like that right now? That’s just rude so cut it out. We talk about local government, but why is that more efficient? Now it ought to be self-evident that it is more efficient and when things become global. The down side of social media, I would argue, is that it makes everything kind of universal and vast and like everybody is doing whatever. Like some kid has cancer in Nebraska and he’s got some sharp friend who puts it on social media and now everyone is concerned with raising money for that kid. Now that’s good, but what about all the other kids who don’t have that ability? In other words, it’s kind of like big government. Social media turns things into much more of a top down thing.

OLASKY: It has bad influence and it also makes us really pay attention to things not right in front of us.

METAXAS: That’s the up side.

OLASKY: Well, the up side in one sense and the down side in another sense. I was thinking last night of how we would rewrite the parable of the good Samaritan in the social media age. We would have the priest who would not pay attention to the person who has been mugged and lying beside of the road because he is busy reading the KJV or the ESV on his mobile device. The legislator, the Levite, he is reading the latest Sanhedrin discussions from Jerusalem and then the Samaritan himself instead of seeing this guy who needs help, is watching the soccer game between Samaria and Judea.

METAXAS: But he might quickly tweet about it as he hustles off to do what he’s doing.

OLASKY: Right, he might tweet “Oh, here’s some guy lying beside the road, please someone take care of him.”

METAXAS: Where’s the government?

OLASKY: Let’s set up a ministry of social help to do that. And in that way I was thinking about compassion. As Jesus talks about compassion in a parable that is synonymous for being a good neighbor, who is our neighbor and if we understand that the person who is in dire help in front of our eyes is our neighbor, then does that motivate us towards compassion?

METAXAS: Before I go to that, I would say that the breakdown of the family has destroyed compassion. There was a time very recently where you took care of your family and families and generations understood that there is no social safety net. I have to worry about my old father and my kids have to worry about me and they have to help out. There is something very healthy and exceedingly local about the family unit. The advent of many things but for one thing, government and the social safety net is that it has encouraged families to advocate that role and so they think somehow it will get taken care of. And I actually think that’s a pity. That’s the downside of FDR’s programs. He wanted to help people, and I think the heart of big government people is in the right place, but I think that the legislation ends up being less compassionate. To me that’s an example of it.

OLASKY: It’s good for social security that elderly people do not have to depend on your children or grandchildren. On the other hand, there they are going off the Florida and not seeing the grandkids and the grandkids lose out in that situation. So these very thoughtful and benevolent programs in one way have consequences.

METAXAS: I think you know about this. It’s called social engineering, and it’s bad.

OLASKY: I’ve heard about it. Late marriage, I’m wondering how that affects compassion because certainly my wife who is knitting over there… Did I hear an anti-knitting crack before?

METAXAS: If there’s someone knitting over there I said it couldn’t be Marvin’s wife. She would never be so rude. It’s terrible.

OLASKY: But she’s being ordinarily productive and it helps her concentrate on the repartee.

METAXAS: Who doesn’t need a crocheted shawl, I ask you?

OLASKY: There, by the way, is an award for whoever listens the most intently during this whole thing. In what way do some of the things that help us understand compassion such as marriage when we delay that or when we move from a covenantal relationship in marriage to a contractual relationship that “I’ll stick with you as long as I derive a benefit from it.” What does that do to compassion?

METAXAS: I guess this is where I have to cut to the chase and just become a sawed off Jesus freak where I say the Bible has all these answers and perhaps we don’t reinvent the wheel, but we say isn’t there a better way we can do this? …I can say living in New York City where everyone tends to get married rather late, if they get married at all, you start seeing the sadness. You start seeing that there are so many people that say, “Well, I guess if I had to do it over, I wish I had got married. I bought the lie basically. I bought the story that the culture was selling in every magazine and every TV program that, no, I shouldn’t get married early and have kids. That’s just some kind of enslavement. I want to be free. I want to have a career. I want to have these things.” It really rarely works out that way, and I think as a culture we’re just beginning to see the down side of this kind of what’s been called freedom… Somebody brought up recently, John Zmirak. I don’t know if you’re familiar with him, but he’s a brilliant writer, conservative, and a Christian, and he wrote an article for The Stream about how almost all of the leaders of Europe are childless, and I thought, “That’s very interesting.” In other words, it really is as though there is a ruling class that doesn’t believe in getting tied down by rugrats and all of that pedestrian junk. They wanted to have their careers or whatever, but the problem is they don’t have the perspective of the people they are ruling. Anyway, I didn’t mean to go on, but that strikes me as very interesting.

REICHARD: That was bestselling author Eric Metaxas speaking with WORLD’s Marvin Olasky.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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