An interesting interview. He apparently was renewed in his (Christian) faith while writing his latest book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants. Some excerpts:
Q: 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?
A: 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.
Q: What are some other examples of faith influencing power?
A: 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.
Q: Would you call yourself a Christian, or are you figuring that out?
A: I would. On my website, for years, I’ve had this statement of what I believe so readers can know where I’m coming from. “I believe in God.” I put that on years ago because I felt it was important that people who read my work knew the perspective that I came from. It changes how people read you if you believe in God. It gives insight into your motivation, how you look at problems and how you deal with people.
Q: This seems like the most religious of all of your books.
A: You’re right. That’s why I titled it after one of the most famous of all Bible stories. The choice of how to end the book is really important because it frames the whole experience. The theme of the book is that much of what is beautiful and powerful in the world comes from adversity and struggle. The other theme is that people who appear to have no material advantage are much more powerful than they appear.
Q: David and Goliath is quite famous, yes. What about Jesus? Where might he fit in in your narrative?
A: He does fit. Here is one of the most revolutionary figures in history. He comes from the humblest of beginnings. He never held elected office. He never had an army at his disposal. He never got rich; he had nothing that we would associate with power and advantage. Nonetheless, what does he accomplish? An unfathomable amount. He is almost the perfect illustration of this idea that you have to look in the heart to know what someone’s capable of.