This month’s issue of Christianity Today has an article by me as its cover story. It was both a challenge and a joy to write as it forced me into a bit of a different style of writing, one that I hope is more effective for reaching non-academic types. After 20 years or so of learning to write as boringly as possible, to maximize the chance of getting through peer-review, I’m having to learn some new tricks.
American evangelical Christianity is ready for its Sally Field moment.
The actress’s 1985 Academy Award acceptance speech is famously quoted as, “You like me! You really like me!”
But we often forget that Field was accepting her second Oscar in five years. She had already won the recognition of her peers. What she really said in 1985 was, “I’ve wanted more than anything to have your respect. The first time I didn’t feel it, but this time I feel it, and I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!”
Similarly, somewhere along the line we evangelical Christians have gotten it into our heads that our neighbors, peers, and most Americans don’t like us, and that they like us less every year. I’ve heard this idea stated in sermons and everyday conversation; I’ve read it in books and articles.
There’s a problem, though. It doesn’t appear to be true….