Benjamin Rolsky on The Rise and Fall of the Religious Left

Paul talks with Benjamin Rolsky on March 11, 2020

L. Benjamin Rolsky is an adjunct instructor in the History and Anthropology Department at Monmouth University and a part-time lecturer in the Religion Department at Rutgers University.

His website is benjirolsky.com.

The Rise and Fall of the Religious Left: Politics, Television, and Popular Culture in the 1970s and Beyond

For decades now, Americans have believed that their country is deeply divided by “culture wars” waged between religious conservatives and secular liberals. In most instances, Protestant conservatives have been cast as the instigators of such warfare, while religious liberals have been largely ignored. In this book, L. Benjamin Rolsky examines the ways in which American liberalism has helped shape cultural conflict since the 1970s through the story of how television writer and producer Norman Lear galvanized the religious left into action.

The creator of comedies such as All in the Family and Maude, Lear was spurred to found the liberal advocacy group People for the American Way in response to the rise of the religious right. Rolsky offers engaged readings of Lear’s iconic sitcoms and published writings, considering them as an expression of what he calls the spiritual politics of the religious left. He shows how prime-time television became a focus of political dispute and demonstrates how Lear’s emergence as an interfaith activist catalyzed ecumenical Protestants, Catholics, and Jews who were determined to push back against conservatism’s ascent. Rolsky concludes that Lear’s political involvement exemplified religious liberals’ commitment to engaging politics on explicitly moral grounds in defense of what they saw as the public interest. An interdisciplinary analysis of the definitive cultural clashes of our fractious times, The Rise and Fall of the Religious Left foregrounds the foundational roles played by popular culture, television, and media in America’s religious history.


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Coming up Wednesday: Gene Edward Veith on The Paul Edwards Program



Gene Edward Veith

Gene Edward Veith on Post-Christian

Dr. Veith joins Paul to discuss his latest book, Post-Christian: A Guide to Contemporary Thought and Culture. This timely book demonstrates how the Christian worldview stands firm in a world dedicated to constructing its own knowledge, morality, and truth. Gene Edward Veith Jr. points out the problems with how today’s culture views humanity, God, and even reality itself. He offers hope-filled, practical ways believers can live out their faith in a secularist society as a way to recover reality, rebuild culture, and revive faith.

Gene Edward Veith, Jr., is a writer and a retired literature professor.  He is Provost Emeritus at Patrick Henry College, where he also served as Professor of Literature and Interim President.  He is currently the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary at Ft. Wayne, Indiana.  He previously served as Culture Editor of WORLD MAGAZINE and Professor of English and Dean of the School of Arts & Sciences at Concordia University Wisconsin.

He is the author of over 25 books on the topics of Christianity & culture, literature, the arts, classical education, vocation, and theology. Dr. Veith blogs at Cranach: The Blog of Veith.


The Paul Edwards Program for Tuesday, March 3rd



Religious Freedom threatened by proposed changes to Michigan Civil Rights law

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers has approved petition language for a ballot initiative that would amend the state Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.

The Fair and Equal Michigan initiative would amend the current law by defining “sex” as including “gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression.” It would also define “religion” as including “the religious beliefs of an individual.”

Fair and Equal Michigan, an extremely liberal LGBTQ+ advocacy group, now has until May 27 to collect 340,047 valid signatures required to bring the issue in front of the state legislature.

The leaders of Michigan’s legislature have indicated that the proposed changes to Michigan’s current civil rights law would take away the rights of people of faith, adversely affecting religious freedom in Michigan.

However, this liberal group is seeking to undermine the rights of people of faith with a petition drive to gather the necessary 340,000+ signatures so that they can put their proposed changes to a vote by the people of Michigan in November.

Guest: Chuck Vizthum, FRC Michigan

Michigan Families Voting No to Discrimination

MLIVE: Ballot language to include LGBT Michiganders in anti-discrimination law OKed by state board

DETROIT NEWS: Opinion: LGBTQ+ petition initiative threatens religious freedom

MLIVE: Michigan House Speaker not interested in expanding civil rights law to include LGBT protections

SLGWITNESS.COM: Justice Center Responds to Statewide Petition Initiative Threatening Religious Conscience


USA TODAY: At least 19 killed as tornadoes rip through Nashville, Middle Tennessee, collapsing buildings

[PHOTO: WKRN]

Alistair Begg: “What does it look like to live as a Christian in a society that does not like what Christians believe?”


AUDIO: The Christian and Same-Sex Attraction

On Monday, March 2 Paul was joined by Rachel Gilson who shared her testimony of coming to faith at Yale and coming out of the LGBTQ+ lifestyle, but who – as a follower of Jesus – still deals with same-sex attraction.

The audio is below:

Paul talks with Rachel Gilson, author of “Born (Again) This Way”

Guest: Rachel Gilson on Born Again This Way

Rachel Gilson serves on the leadership team of Theological Development and Culture with Cru. Her writing has appeared in Christianity Today and for Desiring God and The Gospel Coalition, and she regularly speaks at churches and on college campuses. Rachel is wrapping up her Master of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and lives in the Boston area with her husband and daughter.

As a Christian who experiences same-sex attraction, is it possible to live a life that’s faithful and fulfiling? Rachel Gilson wants to show you that it is. Living as a Christian with same-sex attraction is not just a case of limping to the finish line—it’s possible to run the race with joy.

In this powerful and personal book, she describes her own unexpected journey of coming out and coming to faith… and what came next. As she does so, she addresses many of the questions that Christians living with same-sex attraction are wrestling with: Am I consigned to a life of loneliness? How do I navigate my friendships? Will my desires ever change? Is there some greater purpose to all this? What comes next, and next, and next?

Drawing on insights from the Bible and the experiences of others, Born Again This Way provides assurance and encouragement for Christians with same-sex attraction, and paints a compelling picture of discipleship for every believer. Whatever your sexuality, this book is an inspiring testimony of how a life submitted to Jesus will be fulfilling and fruitful—but not always in the ways we might expect.

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AUDIO: Ross Douthat joins Paul Edwards to discuss The Decadent Society

New York Times op/ed columnist Ross Douthat joined Paul on Monday, March 2 for an engaging conversation about his compelling analysis of Western culture in his new book, The Decadent Society: How We Became the Victims of Our Own Success.

The audio is below:

Ross Douthat and Paul Edwards discuss The Decadent Society

Guest: New York Times Columnist Ross Douthat on The Decadent Society

Ross Douthat | PHOTO: Stephen Crowley/The New York Times via Redux

Ross Douthat is a columnist for the New York Times op-ed page. He is the author of To Change the ChurchBad Religion, and Privilege, and coauthor of Grand New Party. Before joining the New York Times, he was a senior editor for the Atlantic. He is the film critic for National Review, and he cohosts the New York Times’s weekly op-ed podcast, The Argument. He lives in New Haven with his wife and three children.

Ross’s latest book is The Decadent Society: How We Became the Victims of Our Own Success. Today the Western world seems to be in crisis. But beneath our social media frenzy and reality television politics, the deeper reality is one of drift, repetition, and dead ends. The Decadent Society explains what happens when a rich and powerful society ceases advancing—how the combination of wealth and technological proficiency with economic stagnation, political stalemates, cultural exhaustion, and demographic decline creates a strange kind of “sustainable decadence,” a civilizational languor that could endure for longer than we think.

Reviews of The Decadent Society

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