Listening In preview: Ross Douthat

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It: an excerpt from Listening In. This week, a conversation with author and New York Times columnist Ross Douthat.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Douthat believes we have become a nation of “heretics.” That while many people in America still embrace a form of cultural Christianity, many false ideas distort the truth. Or to put it in Biblical language: religion that has the appearance of godliness, but denies its power.

WARREN SMITH:  Today we have a secular left that says: “religion is bad” and a theocratic right that says, we were some form of a Christian nation or we need to be fighting for, restoring a Christian nation. And then you say though, that the problem isn’t that America has too much or too little religion, but the problem is that we have a bad religion. 

DOUTHAT: I think that’s, that is the core argument, right? I mean, I think this, you know, a lot of shifts in American culture just over the last seven or eight years. The continued decline of marriage, the decline of the birth rate, the, you know, the rise of sort of depths of despair and suicide and teen depression and so on. All of those, I think, you know, they represent a lot of different things, but one of them I think is the insufficiency of the kind of religion that predominates in the U-S. 

And I think the one thing that is true now that maybe wasn’t as true when I was writing is that it’s easier to see, a sort of fully post-Christian landscape at the edges of our national life. 

Right? So I do still think it’s true that basically we’re a Christ haunted country and basically liberal politics and conservative politics are both informed by Christian ideas. But if you go out to, you know, the alt-right and portions of the social justice left, I think you get far away enough from Christianity that you begin, where instead of heresy, just saying it’s post-Christian makes a little more sense. That at a certain point the link to historic Christianity just thins out to a point where it doesn’t make sense to emphasize it anymore.

(Photo/America Magazine)

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