Ross Douthat to address ‘Bad religion’ in Feb. 23 lecture
By Julie Filby
Archbishop’s Lecture Series
Speaker: Ross Douthat
On Feb. 23 author, blogger and New York Times columnist Ross Douthat will be the next speaker in the 2011-2012 Archbishop’s Lecture Series.
Douthat, at 32 the youngest columnist in the paper’s history, calls himself the “token reactionary Catholic at the New York Times.” In his weekly columns, he addresses issues such as elections, political candidates, domestic policy and religion.
His lecture “Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics,” will be based on his book of the same title to be released April 17. It will offer a critique of how American Christianity has gone astray and “why it threatens to take American society with it.”
He will share a story that moves from the 1950s to the age of the Obama administration, charting traditional Christianity from a vigorous, mainstream and bipartisan faith; through culture wars of the 1960s and 1970s; to the polarizing debates that exist today.
Douthat argues that Christianity’s place in American life has increasingly been taken over, not by atheism, but by heresy. From examples ranging from Glenn Beck to “Eat Pray Love,” Joel Osteen to “The Da Vinci Code,” Oprah Winfrey to Sarah Palin; Douthat will explore how a cult of self-esteem “reduces God to a life coach” and how the “warring political religions of left and right have crippled the country’s ability to confront our most pressing challenges.”
Douthat, a convert to Catholicism during his teen years, is the author of “Privilege: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class” and co-authored “Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream.” He worked previously as senior editor and blogger at The Atlantic and as film critic for The National Review. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University and today lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and daughter.
The final lecture of the Archbishop’s Lecture Series will be delivered March 6 by political scientist Timothy S. Shah. Shah, associate director of the Religious Freedom Project at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs; and visiting assistant professor in the government department of Georgetown University. Shah specializes in the relationship between religion and political freedom in theory, history and contemporary practice. He is co-author of “God’s Century: Resurgent Religion and Global Politics.”
The Douthat lecture begins at 7 p.m. in Bonfils Hall on the John Paul II Center campus at 1300 Steele St. in south Denver. The event is free, open to the public and does not require advance registration.