RNS: You mentioned earlier that these are difficult times. What do you think of what we’re experiencing right now, politically? What are your views of Donald Trump and the political mood animating our world?
EP: I think we’re in a bad situation. I really do. Donald Trump has no integrity. But I have good friends who think he’s wonderful. But I think they put up with it less and less. People are getting pretty tired of him, I think. Some of us were tired of him before he was elected.
RNS: In “As Kingfishers Catch Fire,” you say that we are facing some of the same cultural situations in our world that you identified years ago. For example, you talk about an “undercurrent of fear fueled by neurotic or manipulative religion.” Can you explain what that means?
EP: I think there’s a whole part of the Christian church which operates out of fear. It’s a negative kind of gospel, which I think is quite contrary to the Gospel that Jesus brought to us. I’m not happy with that. As with Trump, I think we can survive that too. Overall, I’m optimistic. That’s the short answer.
RNS: You’ve seen the church change a lot. You’ve seen Christianity, if I can generalize here, change a lot. Are you more encouraged or more discouraged by what you’re seeing in the American church?
EP: I’m not sure it’s either/or. I do feel like pastors are not doing their job. Look at what’s going on in the church. It has a consumer mentality. It’s about what we can sell and how we can attract people to come to church.
Now there’s a lot of innovation in the church, and overall, I can’t say I’m disheartened. I’m just upset by the fad-ism of the megachurch, but I just don’t think they’re churches. They’re entertainment places.
The full article is available here