Opinion | Pop Culture

This Is Your Brain on Evangelicalism

NPR reporter Barbara Bradley Hagerty's Princeton lecture last week revealed a woman highly ambivalent about evangelical spirituality.

In 1995, NPR religion reporter Barbara Bradley Hagerty was interviewing members of Saddleback Church for a Los Angeles Times Magazine article on why some churches grow and others don't. She talked with a woman named Kathy Younge about her spiritual journey. Younge was suffering from recurrent melanoma, but she didn't believe God was trying to kill her; she believed he was giving her a transcendent purpose. As Hagerty and Younge were talking, the journalist says, the air grew thick, moist, and warm, as if someone was breathing on them. She felt enveloped in a circle of light.

This is the story Hagerty opened with at a Princeton University Center for the Study of Religion lecture last week. She was there to discuss her most recent book, Fingerprints of God: The Search for the Science of Spirituality (which CT magazine reviewed this May). I was surprised to hear her validate evangelical faith so openly given that, as a regular attendee of the center's lectures, I'm accustomed to hearing that ...

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