When it came to my conversation with Eric Metaxas, my reportorial instincts demanded I put first things first.
Given such a storied surname, I ask about his connection with Metaxa, the amber brandy made in Greece. With appealing, self-deprecating humor, he says, “my family owns four or five bottles.” Thus quipped the popular conservative author of five New York Times bestsellers, broadcaster, and public speaker, adding there “had to be” links with the beverage’s roots in Constantinople in the late 1880s.
Like 12-Star Metaxa, his North Star continues to shimmer, flavored by the publication of a memoir, Fish Out of Water: A Search for the Meaning of Life – it’s his 30th book, not counting the dozens of children’s books to his credit, highlighted by Donald Builds the Wall and Donald and The Fake News.
With his latest entry, “I didn’t want to be political,” he says. “I only wanted to write a book that had nothing to do with politics,” but to evoke the touching, vibrant stories of his immigrant parents. His father, Nicholas, hails from Cephalonia; his mom, Annerose, immigrated in 1954 from a village south of Leipzig in Germany.
The cover of the book shows an image of his father on a 1958 visit to the Statue of Liberty taken by Annerose. “I love them with all my heart. It’s their love that motivates me more than anything.”
A snippet from the book: “My father came here from Greece in 1955, aged 28. His family had lived on the Ionian Island of Cephalonia since 1453, when Constantinople fell to the Turks.”
Born in New York City, Metaxas, 57, spent his early years in Queens, where he attended Transfiguration of Christ, a Greek church. When the family moved to Danbury, CT, he attended Assumption. Despite having a split heritage, he instinctively knew what that meant. “Everybody knows you’ll be raised Greek. My mother converted to Greek Orthodoxy.”
From the book: “As is typical of most children’s earliest years, my main memories are of my mother, whose love for me was a palpable undergirding presence.”
Another snippet about a former priest in Danbury, Father Stavropoulos: “When he purchased a motel to run as a side business, the parish was predictably scandalized … Soon after, he bought a half share in a diner near our house andbusied himself with running that too, doing less and less church business.”
In his daily, two-hour radio show, syndicated on 300 outlets, and on his You Tube show, Metaxas, a Yale grad, tries to clear the distorted way the media does their job. “It’s upsetting the way the news is portrayed,” he says. During the January siege of the Capitol, “Nancy Pelosi was not shot. Ninety-nine percent of the people there that day were quiet. Did they burn the Capitol down? It’s still confusing to me. It seems like a false narrative.”
Often, during one of his speaking engagements, “people come up and thank me for being a voice for common sense.”
Regarding the 2020 elections, where President Trump tried throwing out the results in Georgia, he assert that the stark way it unfolded showed its time for reform. “We need clarity in our elections and voter integrity so people don’t doubt, so we’re guaranteed our votes will be properly counted.”
With such a tightly formatted daily schedule, Metaxas says he gives the daily radio show the attention he feels most comfortable with. “I’m so scattered,” he declared, his humility shining through, “I don’t do a lot of prep. It’s not like it’s a news talk show. It’s more long form.”
A quote about Greek worship: “Most Greeks we knew were biblically ignorant, but still had a built-in respect for God and the church’s authority.”
Since he was in the twenties, a “Jesus conversion” led Metaxas to a more evangelical expression of Christianity, loosening the once-robust lifeline he had to the Greek Church, but not severing it. “I never stepped away,” he declared. “I will go with my dad. I will go to any church where the gospel is preached. Christos Anesti! counts.”