In a decidedly eclectic career, Eric Metaxas has written for VeggieTales, Chuck Colson, and the New York Times, three things not ordinarily in the same sentence. He is a best-selling author whose biographies, children’s books, and works of popular apologetics have been translated into Albanian, Portuguese, Spanish, Korean, and Macedonian. The Hartford Courant has declared figuring him out “like trying to stick a pushpin in a cyclone.” Nevertheless, let us try.
Eric Metaxas was born in New York City in 1963, on his father’s 36th birthday. He grew up in Danbury, Connecticut, attending the public schools there, and graduated from Yale University. At Yale he made a literary splash as editor of the Yale Record, the nation’s oldest college humor magazine, and a subsequent literal splash when, following the 99th Yale-Harvard Game, he commandeered a successful effort to throw Harvard’s goalpost into the Charles. At graduation Eric was awarded two senior prizes for his undergraduate fiction. He was also “Class Day Speaker”, co-writing and -delivering “The Class History”, a satirical address that is a Yale commencement tradition, in the process upstaging Dick Cavett, the next speaker. They would not speak for nearly two decades.
Metaxas’ humor writing was first published in the Atlantic Monthly, and has appeared in The New York Times. Woody Allen has called these pieces “quite funny.” Eric’s book and movie reviews, essays, and poetry have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Regeneration Quarterly, Christianity Today, National Review Online, Beliefnet, and First Things. He has been awarded fellowships to Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony for his short stories. The cult-classic Don’t You Believe It! — his book-length parody of the Ripley’s “Believe It Or Not!” books — led novelist Mark Helprin to dub Metaxas “the true heir to The Far Side’s Gary Larson.”
From 1988-1992, Metaxas was editorial director and head writer for Rabbit Ears Productions, writing over 20 children’s videos and books narrated by such actors as Mel Gibson, Robin Williams, Sir John Gielgud, Danny Glover, Sigourney Weaver, John Candy, Michael Caine, Michael Keaton, Geena Davis, Jodie Foster, Emma Thompson, and Raul Julia. His Rabbit Ears videos have won numerous Parent’s Choice Awards and three Grammy nominations for Best Children’s Recording; they all aired on Showtime and as popular audio programs on NPR’s Rabbit Ears Radio, hosted by Mel Gibson and Meg Ryan, whose radio scripts Eric has also written. Parenting magazine and others have called Metaxas “the unsung hero” of Rabbit Ears and a “children’s author nonpareil.”
Mr. Metaxas’ The Birthday ABC was chosen as a 1995 “Pick of the List” by the American Bookseller’s Association. Reviewers said the book’s light verse “sparkled” and “sizzled,” comparing it with Odgen Nash, Edward Lear, and Lewis Carroll. Eric’s many other children’s books include the Angel Award-winning Prince of Egypt A to Z, a tie-in to the Dreamworks film; and the acclaimed Uncle Mugsy & the Terrible Twins of Christmas. Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving was awarded an Amazon.com “Number One Bestseller” Award in 1999.
Eric’s newest children’s book, It’s Time to Sleep, My Love, illustrated by Nancy Tillman, had a first printing of 175,000 and debuted in Barnes&Noble.com’s Top 100 books in October 2008, where it was hailed as a “Goodnight Moon for the 21st century.” Sally Taylor, the daughter of James Taylor and Carly Simon, wrote a lullabye song to Eric’s words, and sings it on the book’s audio cd.
Metaxas was for two years a writer and editor for Chuck Colson’s Breakpoint, a nationally syndicated daily radio program with over 400 stations and a weekly audience of five million. He then worked as a writer for VeggieTales, where he co-wrote Lyle the Kindly Viking, and provided the voice of the narrator on Esther. In 3-2-1 Penguins! he provided the voice for “President Wait-Your-Turn” and “Vacuum #10″. Eric’s children’s books for VeggieTales include the #1 bestseller God Made You Special! (over 600,000 copies in print), as well as Even Fish Slappers Deserve a Second-Chance and The Pirates Who (Usually) Don’t Do Anything, both also bestsellers. He is the author of the unproduced Gourd of the Baskervilles and an unproduced VeggieBook, The Boy Who Cried Waffle.
Metaxas has been frequently featured as a cultural commentator on CNN and the Fox News Channel; and has discussed his own books on C-Span’s Book TV and Hannity & Colmes. He has been featured on many radio programs, including NPR’s Morning Edition and Talk of the Nation, Hugh Hewitt, the Bob Grant Show, Janet Parshall’s America, Monica Crowley, and The Alan Colmes Show.
He is the founder and host of Socrates in the City: Conversations on the Examined Life, a monthly event of “entertaining and thought-provoking discussions on ‘life, God, and other small topics'” that features such speakers as Dr. Francis Collins, Sir John Polkinghorne, Baroness Caroline Cox, Dana Gioia, Os Guinness and Peter Kreeft, and which was mentioned in a front-page story in the New York Times. The New Canaan Society, of which Eric is a founding and current member, was also mentioned in the article.
Eric has debated at the Oxford Union, the world’s oldest debating society, and speaks widely on a variety of topics. His no-holds-barred introductions of such figures as U. S. Senator Joseph Lieberman, former Attorney General John Ashcroft, and Rick Warren have made him much sought after as an emcee and moderator. He has moderated debates with Bishop Spong and President Obama’s former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright; and has spoken at the White House, on Capitol Hill, at West Point, Yale, Cornell, Princeton, and many other venues, and was this past year the featured speaker at the Lousiana Governor’s Prayer Breakfast in Baton Rouge. In 2007 he was made an Honorary Fellow of the prestigious British-American Project, the only person ever to have been afforded this privilege.
Eric’s acclaimed biography, Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery was published by HarperSanFrancisco, and is the “official companion book” to the feature film, also titled Amazing Grace. The book was #23 on the New York Times Bestseller list, and has been lauded by Stanley Crouch (”…a superb history of the British fight against slavery”; Former NYC Congressman Floyd Flake (”magnificent… will stand as a living landmark…”); John Wilson (”a crackling bonfire of clarity and truth.”); Rudy Giuliani (”better than the movie!”), and many others.
Eric’s Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God (but were afraid to ask), came out in 2005, and was praised by Ann B. Davis, Alice on The Brady Bunch (”I am absolutely smitten with this book!”), Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church (”The difficulty is not to gush.”). The sequel, titled Everything ELSE You Always Wanted to Know About God (but were afraid to ask) was published in 2007. A new book in the series titled Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God (The Jesus Edition) was published in hardcover by Regal in January 2010.
Eric attends Calvary/St. George’s Episcopal Church, and lives in Manhattan, New York, with his wife and daughter. His long-awaited biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, titled BONHOEFFER, will be published by Thomas Nelson in April 2010.