Can Christians and skeptics understand one another?  

Posted by Denis Haack in , ,

My good friend John Eddy sent me a link to a program in the archives of This American Life. Hosted by Ira Glass, this weekly broadcast from Chicago Public Radio consists of essays and stories around some common theme. I don’t listen to it regularly, just when I happen to be in the car driving somewhere when it’s on, but I’ve never regretted tuning in. Sometimes humorous, often poignant, always thoughtful, the contributions reveal something real about American life and human nature in a broken yet beautiful world.


John sent me the link to the program titled, “Pray,” and I recommend it to you.


There’s a lot on it about prayer, but the program is really about something else. It’s about whether devout Christians and serious skeptics can ever really understand one another. Or, more specifically, whether Christians can talk about their faith in a way that non-Christians can understand.


The program is in three parts. A Prologue in which a married couple, he a Christian she an atheist, talk about their beliefs and life together. Act I, in which commentator Alix Spiegel travels to Colorado Springs to interview people at a mega-church who have launched a massive prayer effort to pray for every person, place, and business in their city. And Act II, which is a personal story by Scott Carrier, a carpenter, who wonders if a person needs to be a Christian to be good.


“Pray” could be a good discernment exercise for Christians to listen to and discuss—and though I suspect the questions for discussion will be pretty obvious, here are a few to get you started:

1. Can Christians and skeptics find common ground?

2. Is the prayer-walk in Colorado Springs a good idea? Why or why not?

3. Who did you identify with the most in Act I? In Act II?

4. Should Christians be able to explain to skeptics what they believe about the spiritual world?

5. If you could produce an Act III for the program, what would you include?



Source: “Pray” is episode #77 in the archives of This American Life (10.12.2001).


This entry was posted at Tuesday, January 06, 2009 and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .



Thanks for this... I love This American Life but seem to rarely catch it. I'd forgotten I could go back and listen to the archives online, and this sounds like a great one.

As a teacher at a Christian school who rather frequently encounters skeptics in my own students, I think the idea of using this as a discussion starter is a good one.

Blessings on you and yours in MN snow land...

January 10, 2009 at 9:23 PM

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