Guest / Limited Access /

For almost ten years, I have participated in a book group comprising people who attended the University of Chicago. Mostly we read current novels, with a preference for those authors (Philip Roth, Saul Bellow, J. M. Coetzee) who have a connection with the school. The group includes a Marxist-leaning professor of philosophy, a childhood-development specialist, a pharmaceutical researcher, a neurologist, and an attorney.

I marvel in our meetings at how the same book can evoke radically different responses. Yet after navigating a sea of ideas, the living room conversations almost always drift back to political issues. Though I live in a red state, all but one of my book buddies are liberal Democrats—the sole exception being a libertarian who opposes nearly all government.

The group views me as a window to a parallel universe. "You know evangelicals, right?" I nod yes. "Can you explain to us why they are so opposed to homosexuals getting married?" I do my best, but the arguments I cite from leading evangelicals make little sense to this group.

After the 2004 election, the Marxist professor launched into a tirade against "right-wing evangelicals." "They're motivated by hate—sheer hate!" he said. I suggested fear as a possible alternative, fear of changes in a society that is moving in a troubling direction. "No, it's hate!" he insisted, uncharacteristically raising his voice and turning red in the face.

"Do you personally know any 'right-wing evangelicals'?" I asked. "Not really," he admitted a little sheepishly, though he said he had known many in his youth.

I have learned from this group how threatening religion can seem, especially to those who see themselves as a minority of agnostics in a land of belief. They tend to ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedPhilip Yancey: Be Pioneers of Grace in a Post-Christian America
Subscriber Access Only Philip Yancey: Be Pioneers of Grace in a Post-Christian America
The author lays out a way to witness after churches have lost their cultural privilege.
TrendingPope Francis Learns What Rick Warren, Russell Moore, N. T. Wright Think about Marriage
Pope Francis Learns What Rick Warren, Russell Moore, N. T. Wright Think about Marriage
(UPDATED) Warren turns Vatican conference into 'revivalist meeting,' while Moore explains why marriage crosses theological boundaries.
Editor's PickMedical Missionaries' Ebola Pullback: No More Kent Brantlys?
Medical Missionaries' Ebola Pullback: No More Kent Brantlys?
As ministries report record interest in serving, Samaritan's Purse shifts strategy on what expat doctors do.
Comments
Christianity Today
Exploring a Parallel Universe
hide thisNovember November

In the Magazine

November 2005

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.