This week, he interviewed a guy named Robert Ferrigno who wrote a book called Prayers for the Assassin which is getting a lot of praise and attention in the blogosphere. I have a copy on-order and I'll be reviewing it in the future.
In the interview, this transpired:
RF: Well, in no way am I an expert on Islam. I think it is...you could study it for your whole life and never do it. I spent about a year reading the Koran, reading lots of books about Islam, going on websites. I spent a lot of time online. Some of the most interesting sites are things like Askimam, which is like the ultimate Ann Landers internet site. In other words, if you're a Muslim and you have a question, no matter how minute, from how to boil and egg properly, or...there will be a Koranic reference, or a reference from the speakings and teachings of the prophet. And you'll get an answer. And so I spent just days going through, and trying to get a feel for the people. And I think I probably started out more hostile to the faith. And after a great length of time, I started having...I felt the spiritual connection that runs through all faiths, and was very taken with it. So it was mostly just reading a lot of books, being online a lot, and a lot of what I saw was highly disturbing. It is not a faith that someone like me who believes in free expression...Now look: I'm not going to play myself off as an expert on Islam, OK? What I am going to do is play myself off as an expert on two things:
HH: You lived for five years as a gambler.
RF: Yeah. I mean...
HH: In Vegas, right?
HH: Yeah, that's not going to really work.
RF: I'd last about an hour and a half in Pakistan, you know?
(1) As an expert on the Gospel, I can say conclusively that this exchange either overlooks or undercuts the genuine uniqueness of Jesus Christ as demonstrated by the life of Robert Ferrigno.
"cent, again you have demonstrated blog madness," come the retort from the Hugh Hewitt fan reading this commentary. "Ferrigno is no kind of Christian -- especiall in the way you'd define it. Your point is ridiculous."
Actually, I don't think Ferrigno is any kind of Christian: I think it just turns out that he has the benefit of Christian moral standards to protect him from himself. Now, what does that mean? It means that Western Civ is based on the Christian ideal of justice and mercy, so for example someone like Ferrigno doesn't have to be caned for having once had a somewhat-reprobate life. In that, he recognizes that he would have no such benefit in an Islamic society. The pre-eminance of Christ in the culture of the West -- even if that influence is declining -- grants benefits to a fellow like Ferrigno even if he only vaguely recognizes it.
(2) That brings me to my second point -- As an expert on being verbally light on your feet, the statement that there is a "spiritual connection that runs through all faiths" is a bogus statement that Hugh, as an alleged Christian, ought to have challenged.
Look: I "get" that Hugh didn't bring this guy on the radio show to preach the Gospel -- because Hugh doesn't do that anyway. Hewitt brought Ferrigno on the show to hype the book, which Hugh loves. Great -- no problem there as a retailer.
But Hugh, as a Christian, could have said this: "I take offense to that, Robert. There is not a common spiritual connection between Islam and Christ, but you know what, that's not why you're here. You're not a theologian: you're a fiction writer, and I loved your book." That's about 10 seconds of text, and it sets the record straight.
It is 10 seconds of text you will never hear from Hewitt. He doesn't care that much. For all his alleged interest in "God blogging", Hewitt doesn't really care about who God is because he doesn't think there is one specific truth about God. Mohammed is a prophet; Mormonism is a legitimate faith; Christianity is in a common spiritual heritage.
I could go off on a tear here, but I have to get to work. Talk amongst yourselves.