Guest of the week: Eric Metaxas
Eric Metaxas has an eclectic life, as evidenced by the guests who come to his shows – from Dick Cavett to Chynna Phillips Baldwin via Charlie Kirk, KoRn guitarist Brian Welch, Mike Pompeo and Morgan Freeman. And sometimes nobody loves me. He wrote for the Veggie Tales series, several Children’s booksand numerous bestsellers, including Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy (greatest book subtitle of all time), seven men, seven women, Is atheism dead?among many others.
However, for this week’s Pop Culture Warriors column, I’m going to focus on the one that changed my life: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God (But Were Afraid to Ask). Ann Coulter first recommended her books to me in 2009, when I did not consider myself a Christian. I “questioned” as children say. Or is it about something else? Just a few weeks later, Metaxas and I were sitting next to each other at a dinner party in Palm Beach. I told him that his books were recommended to me because I was not religious but was exploring and waiting for something to connect with. He said to me, “For people like you and me, this must be a great moment. You will have a moment of conversion. A time when God will show himself to you. Do you have one of my books?
Although I just told him that his books came highly recommended to me, I had to admit that I didn’t buy any of them. He said, “I just realized I have one book left. I brought a couple with me and there is one left. I think this book was for you.
Indeed, it was. Everything you always wanted to know about God is a conversational Q&A that doesn’t speak to the reader, but is written in a way that isn’t intimidating to a non-believer. It was my gateway drug into Christian theology. This fun, pop culture reference-filled book prepared me for what was to come two years later and just as Metaxas said it would be—my big moment of conversion when I opened my heart to God.
This is just one of many reasons why pop culture is so important to me. You never know when a well-placed Jersey Shore joke can change someone’s life.
Pop Culture Warriors with Lisa De Pasquale is an interview chronicle dedicated to the meaningful work of freedom lovers who have chosen the path of greater resistance. Not only are these pop culture warriors fighting the mainstream groupthink in entertainment, but also the mainstream groupthink on the right side of politics that entertainment doesn’t matter or that the pop culture war is lost. The purpose of this column is to highlight their projects and contributions to expanding freedom in new, exciting, and counter-cultural ways.
What do you think Andrew Breitbart meant by “politics is downstream of culture”?
I didn’t know it was Andrew who said this most recently, but it’s something I’ve heard a lot over the years from many sources, so he kept saying it, because it’s true. And that’s basically the basis of what I do for a living. You can elect a bunch of politicians, but if the people themselves don’t agree with something, it’s useless. So it’s really culture that shapes us, and that in turn leads us to shape whoever we want as political leaders. Christians and conservatives have focused on politics at the expense of culture. We need to be involved in both. So while I care about politics, my affinity is generally more for the cultural sphere. That’s why I’m launching a late night talk show soon! No kidding. I can’t give specifics, but I’m extremely excited about it.
Who inspires you?
So much people. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, William Wilberforce and a host of others from history top the list. But contemporaries like my friends Dick Cavett, Mike Lindell and Sean Feucht do it too, in quite different ways. I think everyone around us has the ability to inspire us or discourage us. And of course, that means everything we do will have an effect on those around us. It’s a sobering thought.
What was your childhood obsession with pop culture?
The Dean Martin Roasts were important to me because they featured a wacky cavalcade of genius comedians of the time, including Don Rickles, Rich Little, Bob Hope and Red Buttons, though it was always Charlie Callas and Foster Brooks who KILLED me. …And of course, All in the Family and the Carol Burnet Show are huge influences. I had the great joy of meeting Tim Conway a few years ago.
What was your first gig and how did you get there?
I was a studious immigrant child, so I did my homework, watched a lot of TV, and fished. I didn’t do any gigs at all until college, so my first gig was the Stones at RFK Stadium in Philadelphia in 1981. We drove all the way from Connecticut and nearly died in a snowstorm. rain on I-95 – and I’m not kidding. That’s why when you get older, you worry so much about your children. Because you once were one, and the memories of how extremely stupid you could be remain vivid and fresh, as if it all happened yesterday.
Tell us about the latest movie, TV show, book you consumed for entertainment.
The movie Mr. JONES, directed by Agnieszka Holland. It was simply spectacular. It stars James Norton and Vanessa Kirby, and features Peter Sarsgaard as the super gooey New York Times Moscow bureau chief Walter Duranty, who basically sold his soul to the devil and failed to report the truth, but all that Stalin wanted him to report, which resulted in the millions of deaths in the Ukrainian famine. He got a Pulitzer for it, which was never revoked. Which tells you something about the Pulitzer Prize and the New York Times. It is an extraordinarily powerful film.
And I recently read two very good books. One is titled The Crucifixion of the King of Glory by Eugenia Constantinou, and the other is truth and beauty, by Andrew Klavan. I can’t recommend them enough.
What would you say to readers who say they chose not to participate in the pop culture war?
Going back to what Andrew said, the stories we take and the people we let influence us and the people we let make us laugh and cry is everything. So it’s vital that people who care about the world understand this and know that culture is not something incidental, like a hobby we do in the basement that doesn’t affect the rest of life. It is the water we swim in as we swim through life.
What can readers do to support you and your projects?
PLEASE go to www.ericmetaxas.com and sign up for my newsletter, where I send video links to my best interviews and give you details on the Late-Night Talk Show and some other very exciting projects coming very soon. And if people are able to support us financially in these projects, I have a GiveSendGo page. Once I got canceled from YouTube, I was less afraid to ask for help. When you are attacked and canceled, you realize that we all need to help each other as much as possible. It’s the only way to fly!