On Friday, March 17, President Bruce McLarty traveled to New York City where he appeared as a guest on The Eric Metaxas Show, a radio show and podcast hosted by Metaxas himself. Metaxas is the author of the 2016-2017 Harding Read and the New York Times best-selling biography, “Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery.”
Last summer, McLarty chose the book and introduced it as the first-ever selection for Harding Read. Copies of the biography were given to incoming freshmen who attended Stampede, Harding’s summer orientation program, and all students and faculty were encouraged to read it as well.
On Jan. 12, Metaxas was a guest on Harding’s campus as a speaker in the American Studies Institute’s (ASI) Distinguished Lecture Series where he discussed how the life of Wilberforce became a catalyst of faith to those around him. Metaxas’ lecture was preceded by an ASI dinner and reception where he signed copies of the book. After Metaxas’ visit to Harding, Vice President for University Communications and Marketing Jana Rucker said she wanted McLarty to appear on The Eric Metaxas Show.
“Well, we knew when Eric came to Harding, it was just magic,” Rucker said.
Metaxas’ show, described on his website as “the show about everything,” features guests who discuss topics such as literature, politics and religion during 40-minute segments.
Rucker said she reached out to Metaxas’ assistant to propose the idea and was contacted two days later by the show’s producer, Chris Himes, who asked if McLarty would come to New York and be on the show. Arrangements were then made to fly McLarty to New York City on Friday, March 17 for his guest appearance with Metaxas.
Rucker said that Metaxas left the topic of the podcast up to McLarty. While on the show, McLarty discussed Metaxas’ ASI lecture, “Amazing Grace,” the idea of a campus-wide read, and the tendency of religiously-affiliated universities to lose their founding faith over time. McLarty mentioned his own book, “Embracing the Mission” which includes his doctoral research over universities moving away from faith. Metaxas expressed the importance of universities that strive to remain true to their religious mission.
“(Metaxas) was just so comfortable when he came to Harding,” McLarty said. “He understood us; he got Harding.”
During the show, McLarty also asked Metaxas to return to Harding to finish up the Harding Read, to which Metaxas responded “I would be honored.”
In an interview after the show, Metaxas praised the idea of the Harding Read and said that he was overwhelmed when he found out his book was chosen.
“First, you’re just flattered because you think, ‘Wow, they picked my book, and all these people are going to read it,’” Metaxas said. “But then I realized that all these students are then going to be familiarized with the life of one of the greatest men in history. The fact that all of these young people are going to go through life familiar with the story of Wilberforce makes me very happy because it’s why I wrote the book.”
Metaxas once again discussed his appreciation of Harding and the faith-based learning that is promoted.
“The foundational ideas behind the college are ideas that mean a lot to me. To see that happening in a place that I was not aware existed, it just is encouraging to me,” Metaxas said. “I wasn’t aware of Harding University, and so to get to know about it through this experience of being invited and finding out that the whole college is talking about my book and this character that means so much to me, and then to see that the college really is committed to the same things that I’m committed to is just deeply encouraging; there’s no other way to put it.”
Metaxas also stressed the importance of Christians using every opportunity to bring glory to God.
“Some people are called to be evangelists and to preach. Some people are called to be pastors, but not everyone is,” Metaxas said. “So the question is, what did God create me for? What did God create you for? To realize that being a writer, being a radio host, being a doctor, being a nurse, being a mother or a father — all of these things you can do unto God.”
The full segment of McLarty’s appearance on The Eric Metaxas Show can be found on the Harding University Facebook page.