Russell Brand, of all people, sat down with Alister McGrath and talked about atheism and faith in a respectful conversation:
He’s Russell Brand, so don’t expect church lady language. But be glad that the conversation is happening and that Brand’s audience is listening. Anybody interested in evangelization will see this as a hopeful sign that Brand is willing to at least consider working on building a bridge of trust (as Sherry Weddell discusses in her magnificent book Forming Intentional Disciples). Catholics must be willing to meet people like Brand where they are with respect, not fear or hostility.
In other news, Fr. George Coyne once attempted something similar with Richard Dawkins:
This is the first of seven videos Dawkins made with him nearly a decade ago. Dawkins, sad to say, could not cope with Coyne and eventually retreated into the cocoon of atheist fundamentalist simplicities from which he has yet to emerge. But it was worth the attempt and I applaud Fr. Coyne for trying.
Dawkins has, alas, dwindled to a weird kind of showman for the Reddit.atheist crowd, preaching to the choir and knocking down straw men. It would be fun if he could muster the guts to talk with Bishop Barron instead of make fun of snake handlers and six day creationists.