Ross Douthat: a new hero of mine

Look at that face. If I saw him walking down the street, I would think he was just another guy; I’d have no idea the kindred spirit that lay in this man’s mind.

Ross Douthat (don’t ask how to say his last name), like myself, seems to be a man that life has continually thrown from one-extreme to the other: born in San Francisco, and then transplanted to New Haven, Connecticut; attended Harvard and then turned around three years later and wrote a book denouncing the Privileged culture there; started out as a Pentecostal, then converted to Catholicism; wrote for his college newspaper and is now the youngest-ever Op-Ed columnist at the New York Times.

These extremes seem to have helped him settle in nicely with a well-informed and balanced view, able to to comfortably exist, engage, and critique in a world of poly-everything.

Over the past year or so, I’ve seen (and been sent), a few of his articles and blog posts, but I think I was missing something. All I knew of him was that he was a Catholic writer with a sharp mind, and I didn’t pay him much proactive attention.

And this was to my great detriment.

Somehow I stumbled upon this set of exchanges on Slate, where Will Saletan, one of the most thoughtful secular liberals I’ve ever read, engages Douthat on some issues raised in Douthat’s newest book Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics. This exchange cemented Douthat’s stature in my mind, as well as his place in my reading repertoire. It’s great. You all need to read it.

I’ve started to read the book, and it’s definitely going to be a personal classic for me and a turning point in my development as a solidly religious person firmly engaged in the body politic. I also have the privilege of attending a book talk/signing with him next week here in Philly.

I have much more I could say and commend about him (including the fact that he’s a Catholic who fully-embraces praying in tongues–kindred spirit indeed!), but to do so would steal precious time from you, the gracious reader of this blog post, that could be spent reading Douthat’s work itself. Here’s a representative piece to get you started.

Oh. And you’re welcome.


8 thoughts on “Ross Douthat: a new hero of mine

  1. Ross is a good guy, and one of the more thoughtful political pundits in the US. But I wouldn’t rush into hero worship over one book. There are serious problems with “Bad Religion,” and it is heavily slanted toward the religious-destiny narrative Douthat wants to believe about the United States. And though yes, he’s pretty moderate when it comes to most political issues, a lot of his writing (particularly on social issues) is just carefully worded apologies for the worst ideas of right-wing Christianity.


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