Why Eric Metaxas Landed at Yale as a ‘Fish Out of Water,’ Part I: A Greek Seeks Wisdom

By John Zmirak Published on April 22, 2021

One night in the late 1990s, I got on the subway from Queens to attend a pro-life event in Manhattan. This was nothing new for me. My mother had informed me about abortion when it was legalized nationwide via Roe v. Wade. She had to explain it to me several times, since my eight-year-old mind couldn’t fathom it. At last, exasperated, she spoke completely bluntly.

“You know how a baby lives in his mother’s belly?”


“Well now a doctor can kill it.”

“And that’s legal?”

“It is now.”

“In America???”

“Yes.” Then she lit a cigarette and walked off, muttering about “international Communism.”

“You Might Get Kidnapped by the Moonies!”

I’ve never been able wrap my head around this fact (abortion, not Communism) in almost 50 years. In 1977, at age 12, I heard a radio host I loved, Barry Farber, announce he was running for mayor of NYC on the Right-to-Life Party line. Despite her reasoned objections (“You might get kidnapped by the Moonies!”) I informed my mother that I was volunteering. I spent a whole summer knocking on doors to collect ballot signatures for Farber. Ed Koch won, but Farber outpolled the wretched pro-choice RINO on that ballot.

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I’ve been active ever since, including my four years at Yale, where I wrote columns, picketed, and engaged in countless debates. I figured out there that if I liked a girl, it was best to get the abortion argument over with on the second date, before I got too attached.

You Don’t Remember Me But I Remember You

Ten years or so after I kicked the New Haven dust from my feet, my old Yale friend Maggie Gallagher invited me to hear a pro-life speaker whose name I didn’t recognize. Sounded good to me. And so I went and so it was. His talk was one of the best I’d ever heard on the subject: witty, sincere, and moving. After it was over, as I sought out a gin and tonic, the well-coiffed and dapper speaker approached me.

“Hi I’m Eric Metaxas. You don’t remember me, do you?”

I shrugged, “No, but nice to meet you.”

“I remember you. You’re John Zmirak, the guy who used to keep bringing up Christianity in our English poetry seminar. I was kind of a typical Yalie then, so I couldn’t stand you. Then I found Jesus, and I just wanted to say hello, and that you were absolutely right.”

What Would Bonhoeffer Do?

And that humble introduction was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. It has deepened to this day. So when Eric informed me that he was writing a memoir of his youthful search for meaning, and how he found Faith in Christ, I couldn’t wait to read it. Neither should you. Fish Out of Water is a funny, deep, and gorgeously written book. It ought to be a massive New York Times bestseller. Producers should be bidding for the movie rights, and the Gen Z’s versions of Matthew Broderick lining up to play Eric.

Eric may have prevented that by his courageous, prophetic resistance to election fraud in 2020. But I think he knew that speaking up was “what Dietrich Bonhoeffer would do.” So he did it.

To help get the word out about this delightful book, I did two interviews with Eric at the Life Outreach International studios. Here’s Part I. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


John Zmirak is a senior editor at The Stream, and author or co-author of ten books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism. He is co-author with Jason Jones of “God, Guns, & the Government.” 

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