Theory of Change Podcast With Matthew Sheffield
Theory of Change #071: Phil Christman on Rod Dreher and Christian radicalization

Theory of Change #071: Phil Christman on Rod Dreher and Christian radicalization

Everything we do, think, or feel is based 100 percent on rational thinking. Or at least that’s what we tell ourselves.

The truth, however, is that we humans often act based more on psychological impulse than on intellectual reason. That underlying reality is one of the main reasons why so many Americans who adhere to strict religious belief in their own lives have been willing and even happy to support Donald Trump, a man who is as amoral as he is irreligious.

We’ve talked many times here on Theory of Change about the polling and the interest groups behind how and why this happens, but sometimes it’s important to delve to the personal level to further our understanding.

And if you ask me, there is almost no one in American political life who exemplifies the radicalization that’s happened among many Christians than Rod Dreher, a veteran conservative writer who for many years wrote a blog for the American Conservative Magazine and is now doing an independent newsletter on Substack. As I hope to show you during this episode, Dreher’s story is an incredibly personal one, but it also says a lot about the American right, and some about the American left as well.

Our guide for this episode is Phil Christman. He is a lecturer at the University of Michigan and the author of several books, including most recently How to Be Normal. But most importantly for this conversation, he recently wrote an article for Slate about Dreher’s life and how it’s become an object of fascination for more than a few people on the left wing of Democratic politics.


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Phil Christman's website: https://philipchristman.com/

On Substack: https://philipchristman.substack.com/

Christman's Slate essay about Dreher:



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Theory of Change Podcast With Matthew Sheffield
Lots of people want to change the world. But how does change happen? Join Matthew Sheffield and his guests as they explore larger trends and intersections in politics, religion, technology, and media.