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Charity in an Angry Time

by David French

Before You Wake: Life Lessons from a Father to His Children, by Erick Erickson (Hachette, 224 pp., $20)

Our culture is in the grip of more than a few disturbing habits. Among them: defining people by their mistakes, hating our ideological enemies, and adopting grandiose ideas about our own importance. We treat people in the public eye as if their decision to put themselves on television or share their ideas online meant that we no longer have an obligation to treat them humanely. After all, if they want better treatment, all they have to do is change jobs.

Into this moral abyss steps an unlikely hero: Erick Erickson, a radio talk-show host, a television pundit, one of the founders of RedState, and a person whom an Atlantic piece once labeled “arguably the most powerful conservative in America.” I say “unlikely” in part because Erickson built his early reputation as a fearless conservative firebrand. His language could be lacerating, his devotion to the conservative cause seemed absolute, and he was on no one’s short list of cultural peacemakers.

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