Book Club Channel
Christian Nation: A Q&A with Author Frederic C. Rich
Q: There have been several popular works of political fiction over recent years. What sets CHRISTIAN NATION apart?
A: You're right—David Frum published Patriots last year, of course there was Primary Colors in 1996. Even Ralph Reed wrote a novel about a Supreme Court nomination battle. But these are all "inside baseball" books: the authors are political operatives, and the characters are politicians and political operatives. In contrast, CHRISTIAN NATION's characters are ordinary people who are trying to make their lives against the backdrop of the world the politicians are giving them, and who, eventually, are roused to action.
I would compare CHRISTIAN NATION to books like Sinclair Lewis's It Can't Happen Here. He was worried that Americans didn't take the threat of fascism seriously enough, so he showed the country in a novel how it might happen and just what it could mean. Or, another example is Philip Roth's Plot Against America—that was historical, of course, but also a what-if book, like mine, based on the counterfactual that Charles Lindbergh won the 1940 election.
Q: Ok. But the idea of a fundamentalist theocracy in America—like the Taliban in Afghanistan, or in Saudi Arabia or Iran—it's just so farfetched.
A: Fair enough, but you have to remember that this book is not a prediction. I don't think we are going to have a fundamentalist Christian theocracy in America, either. But I do think that with some bad luck and bad decisions, it's possible, and that's what scares me. In the book Adam asks Greg, "What happened, why did it happen, how could it have happened?" This is the question that Hannah Arendt asked herself after the defeat of fascism, and is the most important question, really, of the 20th century. I want to make sure we don't find ourselves asking that question again in the 21st century.