The New York Times op-ed columnist and author will lecture at Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Buckhead Jan. 22, touching on similar themes explored in his most recent book, “Bad Religion.”
”I’m here to talk about the state of Christianity in America,” said Douthat. “I’ll rehash some of the [elements] in the book and what’s changed in the [couple of years] since.”
Religious developments — the election of Pope Francis, for example — since Douthat’s tome hit the market in 2012 will also be addressed during his upcoming appearance at Peachtree Presbyterian. That venue is the latest stop a lecture circuit comprised of college campuses and religious institutions for the in-demand scribe.
Douthat’s public sessions tend to be devoid of pretense — case in point: his take on the perceived diminishing reach of religious institutions.
“I want to talk about why Christian churches aren’t as influential as they used to be … and maybe what the churches can do about it,” Douthat said.
Such discussions fall within the same parameters of the much-talked about “Bad Religion.”
“Its basic [premise] tells the story about how over the last 50 years or so Americans have become less of a Christian country but haven’t become less religious,” said Douthat. “Americans are still as spiritually engaged as ever; they’re just likely to identify with traditional belief systems ... the Christian church and so on.”
The book, he added, attempts to explain why that is happening in contemporary American society and what is problematic about the shift.
“The second half of the book is a critique of various forms of what I call pseudo-Christianity,” Douthat said. “You have books like ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ — made into a movie starring Julia Roberts — and [ministers espousing] prosperity gospel as part of a general religious atmosphere where everybody is sort of focused on a kind of do-it-yourself spirituality.”
IF YOU GO:
o What: Ross Douthat lecture
o Where: Peachtree Presbyterian Church, 3434 Roswell Road, Buckhead
o When: Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.)
o Information: www.peachtreepres.org