Something To Be Reckoned With

The evangelical mind awakens

In 1980, the sleeping giant of American politics awoke. Evangelical Protestants comprise, along with Catholics (whom they approximate in number), one of the two largest religious blocs in the United States. The entry into electoral politics of a hefty portion of them as a self-aware Christian Right helped to ensure the triumph of Ronald Reagan and to transform and immensely complicate the affairs of the Republican party. The story is famous, Newt Gingrich’s fall from grace providing only the latest, and surely far from the last, act in a riveting drama.
Many fewer nonevangelicals, most of them academics, are aware of a parallel and equally dramatic turning in evangelical intellectual life-though one without the rightward political bent. In 1995 appeared a new bimonthly journal called Books and Culture. The magazine is a self-conscious adaptation of the New York Review of Books, right down to the newspaper stock on which it is printed; and the editors of Books and Culture hoped that their periodical might do for evangelicals what the NYRB has done for secular intellectual life; that is, provide a forum in which academic and free-lance intellectuals engage with gusto a general educated public. Like the NYRB, Books and Culture has assembled a stable of writers who repeat in its pages, many of them well known to each other. But, whereas the NYRB came into existence as the more-or-less chance result of a newspaper...

To read the rest of this article please login or become a subscriber.

About the Author

James C. Turner is director of the Erasmus Institute at the University of Notre Dame and author of The Liberal Education of Charles Eliot Norton (Johns Hopkins University Press).