Douthat talks with Moyers on Bad Religion – UPDATED

I’ve been recommending Ross Douthat’s book, Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics, both here and elsewhere. Here he sits with Bill Moyers and they get right into it, with Douthat quickly making an argument for robust institutional religion participation in the national dialogue — a religion that is “not separate from politics, that’s involved in politics, deeply influences politics but isn’t captive to a partisan cause of the left or right.”

An excellent discussion — check it out. And note there are additional videos in the right sidebar over there.

UPDATE: More discussion on orthodoxy, heresy and the nation between Douthat and Albert Mohler. Good stuff.

Also, Douthat has thoughts on the passing of Charles Colson that relate.

Related: Heresy is rare, and everywhere

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Mark Greta

    Have a very hard time watching anything with Bill Moyers who is about as flaming liberal and flames could ever be measured. His concept of government is pure socialism. He hates Capitalism in any form and loves big givernment solutions to everything with a full restraint on religious liberty that in any way conflicts with the secular godless religion. Anyone that admires LBJ and FDR for what they did to centralized government at the expense of the Constitution you know is pretty far out there on the left wing. The sad part is that PBS gives these folks a voice using tax payer money rather than let the market bear the cost and those who agree with him or want to hear him pay the tab.

    I think Ross does about as good a job as possible on this liberals show. When he was startig to make too good a point, Moyers would jump in and distract. At times, I wish Ross had interupted and said wait, you asked a question, let me answer it before you go on the attack. I added the book to my reading list but it could take a while as it is down the list and I am reading about 4 books now.

  • Mark Greta

    By the way Anchoress, love the fact that changes were made to the website in key areas around comments. Still seems kind of glitchy and a tad slow. But love where you are taking this site and the content being added.

  • Nicholas

    When Moyers was really going at it, I was struck by the assumption, never explicitly stated but always present, that if Christianity is to be authentic and credible, it must attack the sins of capitalism, and capitalism specifically. Over dinner last night my wife, who has studied social movements in American Christianity, suggested Social Gospel theology as the root of this assumption. Since Marxism and its children offer the fiercest attack on capitalism available, it makes sense to me (if my wife’s analysis is correct) that churches which embraced the Social Gospel have been likely to substitute some flavor of Marxist ideology for orthodox Christianity. Douthat’s approach, by contrast, seems to be what the Church wants: engage secular affairs where they do not conform to Christ, no matter what ideology dominates.

  • Bruce in Kansas

    @Mark Greta: Moyers points out one of his surprises when he got to DC in the 1950s was how close some of the Catholic clergy were to New Deals pols and that pro-life, liberal Sargent Schriver was one of his mentors. Moyers makes no bones about being liberal, nor Douthat a conservative, but the gem in this discussion is the imperative of believing Christians to bring their faith actively into the political sphere, and how once a believing Christian has picked a side in our two-party political system, OUR WORK HAS JUST BEGUN. Whether a Democrat or a Republican, a disciple of Jesus Christ must then make clear where his party fails to meet the Christian challenge and depart form his party on those points. So a Democrat who is Christian should be called influence his party to change change or depart from the party when it comes to the issue abortion or homosexual marriage, and a Republican who is Christian should be called to influence his party to change or depart from the party when it comes to the issue of torture or pre-emptive war. And so forth. The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.

  • Todd Flowerday

    Interesting video; my first time viewing Mr Douthat in an interview format. I wonder if he is less aware of the rise and ebb of religious fervor in the US over the centuries, though he is right in remarking on the convergence of some Catholics and some Protestants in the 50′s and 60′s.

    An interesting parallel between the “lukewarm” favor of folks like Billy Graham for integration, and Mr Douthat’s own “lukewarm” acknowledgement of the ca 1900 abuses that led to the need for citizens to rise up against the abuses of capitalism-gone-wild.

    He fumbles a good bit when challenged on finding acknowledgement on the “sins of the rich and powerful” on the political Right. The GOP used to be a party of “law and order.” No more, and to give Mr Douthat’s conscience its due, he’s truly bothered by excesses of his political companions. And he’s a lukewarm support/critic of Paul Ryan. He’s trying to play both ends, depending on who might be in ascendancy. Or maybe he’s not so sure. I suspect that what’s he’s grasping at is that a healthy nation needs liberals and conservatives working together as a mutual check on each other. And given that extremists are in ascendancy, and this plays perfectly into Mr Douthat’s dichotomy of orthodoxy/heresy, I’d say that this is the weakest portion of his stance.

    Mr Douthat isn’t theologically astute enough to finesse this. Scripture and tradition shows we have a huge swath of faithful believers in between orthodoxy and heresy. As a political commentator, Mr Douthat seems well-informed and insightful. On religion, perhaps less so.

  • Manny

    That was enjoyable and informative. Even Bill Moyers was not his usual obnoxious self. Thanks for sharing that with us.

  • Mark Greta

    Todd “He fumbles a good bit when challenged on finding acknowledgement on the “sins of the rich and powerful” on the political Right.”

    Could be because he was surprised that anyone today would make the claim in view of the ultra rich liberal supporters of Obama. He has at least as many on wall street and hollywood pumping him money not counting the money Soros throws around in every direction to try to control the discussion. I think many would be surprised that it was the grass roots right in the tea party where few of them were rich by any measure that had major impact in the last election.

    I think he did a good job or religion considering he was covering a wide array of faith beliefs from fundamental to orthodox to bible belt evangelicals. What struck me in thinking about this is how much Moyers is not very comfortable with any religious involvement unless it is big government supporting which is usually the secular godless religion of the state.