On July 26, author and religious historian Reza Aslan was a guest on "Spirited Debate", a FoxNews.com webcast about religion hosted by Lauren Green. Aslan was on the program to promote his new book Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. The interview has gone viral and Ms. Green has been heavily criticized. Words such as "the worst", "most embarrassing", and "cringe-worthy" have been used to describe her interview with Aslan. You can watch and see if the criticism is apt or not.
The merits of Ms. Green's opening question regarding why a Muslim would write a book on Christianity is debatable. One could argue that it was designed for those not familiar with Aslan's work. This theory may be giving Ms. Green too much credit though. However, once Aslan gave his response, Ms. Green sounded downright silly when she asked why he'd be interested in the founder of Christianity. If Pamela Geller was on "Spirited Debate" promoting one of her books about Islam, do you think Ms. Green would have questioned why a Christian is writing about Islam?! After watching the interview, it may appear to some as if Aslan wears his academic credentials on his sleeve. However, I think it was unfortunately necessary for him to repeatedly state his credentials because Ms. Green couldn't get off her talking point of whether or not he was qualified to write the book in the first place. As a side note, I'm willing to bet Aslan knows more about Christianity than many of the so-called Christians walking around.
During the interview, Ms. Green read criticisms of the book by two theologians and someone watching the webcast. Nothing wrong with that. However, the interview would have been much better if she also read passages from the book itself and then asked Aslan questions related to them. Ms. Green also accuses Aslan of trying to conceal his Muslim background. At this point she should have stayed down because Aslan easily dismantled her claim.
Until this past weekend, I had never heard of Reza Aslan. However, I think this interview will serve to raise his profile in a positive way because he calmly and eloquently stated his reasons for writing the book. Although I was familiar with Ms. Green's previous work reading news updates on the Fox News channel, with this interview many others are probably seeing her for the first time. The word "inauspicious" comes to mind.
Reza Aslan's interview with Lauren Green has proved to be a win-win for him. In addition to thoroughly schooling Ms. Green, Aslan has seen sales of Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth skyrocket. While it was selling steadily before the interview, as I write this post it is the #1 book on Amazon.com.