BY KATHRYN LOFTON
Another day, another breathless report of the evangelical incursion. This time, our journalistic source is an admirable one: Rice University sociologist D. Michael Lindsay (author of Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite) writing for the May 9, 2008 issue of The Chronicle Review. Of familiar pitch is the exclamatory that “evangelicalism is rebounding,” the statistical joy at evangelical Ivy League elitism, and the inevitable ethnic revelation (“I found that 90 percent of the members of the Yale chapter of Campus Crusade for Christ are Asian-American”).
After five paragraphs of such rehearsal, the article transitions to a narrative useful for any students of evangelicalism and fundamentalism seeking quotations on the mind(s) of those Christian men (and women, though fewer of those are imagined) pressing into hallowed halls. Lindsey serves up a summation of “evangelical scholarship” and its meeting of the “intellectual mainstream.” Included in the primer is an exuberant presentation of evangelical scholars, scholarship on evangelicals, and evangelical scholarship. The piece presumes an anxious readership, liberal and loathing of the menace that seems to have more money, more organizational power, and more disregard for plural postulates than the dominant academic mainstream. To that cohort, Lindsay supplies a comforting reminder and some clarification. His point is quelling: most of the evangelicals who have invaded liberal arts lands are of a cosmopolitan bent, and eager to keep the apple cart (his metaphor) upright. The question is whether the apple cart, frightened of its new handler, may collapse under the weight of presumptive infection. Lindsay says, rightly: probably not.