US author Malcolm Gladwell is known for his best-selling books that deal with the unexpected twists in social science research such as The Tipping Point, Outliers and Blink. But his newest book includes faith-related themes.
- Religion News Service
These themes in his book David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, are not just in the title. Gladwell said that while researching the book, he began rediscovering his own faith after having drifted away. Here, he speaks about his Mennonite family, how Jesus perfectly illustrates the point in his new book and how Gladwell’s return to faith changed the way he wrote the book.
You use the biblical story of David and Goliath in the title and the setup to your book. Do you think we’ve been retelling the story poorly?
I think there has been an overemphasis of the idea that David’s victory was improbable. When you look closer to that story and you understand the full historical context, you see it from a different perspective. Here was a guy who brilliantly changed the rules of combat.
He was equipped with a sling that was routinely used by armies to defeat the sort that Goliath was. David was very skilled at using the weapon and he was filled with the spirit of the Lord. Put those things together, why is he an underdog? He’s smarter than his opponent, better armed and he had this extraordinary force in his heart. When you understand that perspective, you understand that sometimes our instinct about where power comes from is wrong.
What are some other examples of faith influencing power?
The final two chapters of the book also deal with faith: one about a woman who forgives her daughter’s murderer and one about the Huguenots in France who defy the Nazis in World War II. In both cases, people were able to do extraordinary things because they were armed with faith. They were able to perform acts of courage because they came from godly traditions. In both cases, there are people who had been through enormous adversity and had survived — more than survived, thrived.
Is it true you grew up in an evangelical home?
Yeah. I grew up in southwestern Ontario in the heart of a Mennonite community. All my family are part of the Mennonite church. I joked at [the recent evangelical conference] Catalyst that I’m the only member of my family who had never delivered a sermon. Everyone has been to seminary, been a lay preacher, the list is very, very long in my extended family of people who have had opportunities to give a sermon. My joke at Catalyst was that it was my sermon; I finally got to give one.
FULL STORY Malcolm Gladwell's return to faith