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Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite Paperback – October 29, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"A clear-eyed, evenhanded analysis of evangelical influence that dispenses with overheated fears of theocracy to present a complex and nuanced portrait."
"Faith in the Halls of Power provides an extraordinary map of faith and power today." --Joseph Kip Kosek, Journal of the American Academy of Religion
"A book for serious readers, with insights into how Christians have shaped aspects of Republican Party policy; how they've engaged with the intellectual elite...and how corporate America has many Christians in the boardrooms." --Christianity
"As Lindsay demonstrates with overwhelming evidence, the rise of religious conservatives is a carefully orchestrated, well-financed, and systematic effort to inject evangelicals into the center of American society. ...revelatory." --Symposium
"The single finest account of the goals, ambitions, challenges, and complexities of evangelical elites I have ever read."--The Journal of Law and Religion
Top Customer Reviews
With that being said, I saw an except/interview about this book posted on a Christian website one day and thought I should attempt to give it a read.
And wow, did it offer a very unique view into the world of powerful evangelicals in our country and the way they think about their work and faith! I highly recommend it if you're a person of faith or just someone curious as to the influence these people of faith have on our culture. I do wish it did a more intensive treatment of this but it's still a fascinating look.
As an intellectual person I thought the critiques of their churches by these people of power was right on despite being quite sad at the same time. I can't say that I'm all the way in terms of their attitudes and connections to church but I'm definitely closer to them than my family and friends are.
Be warned though, this is quite an academic-type of read so I'm not sure it accessible for the general population and this general lack of excitement and relevance is why I couldn't ever give it a perfect score.
In this book, Lindsay offers a clear definition of and paints a full-color portrait of the American evangelical microcosm as it exists at the beginning of the 21st Century. Evangelicals of often misunderstood and mislabeled -even within the Body of Christ - so the author's clear and unambiguous definition sets the stage beautifully for his treatment of some of the movement's key leaders and influencers:
"I define an evangelical as someone who believes (1) that the Bible is the supreme authority for religious belief and practice, (2) that he or she has personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and (3) that one should take a transforming, activist approach to faith." (Page 4)
Among the men and women (the author points out clearly the paucity of women in leadership positions within the evangelical world) profiled in this far-reaching study and analysis, I have been privileged to know several dozen of them, so I am able to personally affirm the conclusions that the Lindsay has drawn about their character and breadth of their influence. The point of the list that follows is not to engage in "name dropping," but rather to add my own small individual voice to that of Dr. Lindsay in corroborating the influence that I have observed these individuals have had and continue to have on society. I have observed them to be committed men and women of God.
Rick Warren was a classmate of mine in a doctoral program at Fuller Theological Seminary
Chuck Colson was head of Prison Fellowship during the 10 years I worked for him.
Max DePree was a professor of mine at Fuller.
I have sat under the preaching and teaching of Bill Hybels, Tony Campolo, Eric Metaxas and Tim Keller
I spent two weeks with President Jimmy Carter on a Habitat for Humanity project in Chicago
Nancy DeMoss was a gracious hostess and benefactor for many programs at Prison Fellowship.
My point is that these strong evangelical leaders have had a profound personal impact on me, and I am pleased to see that Dr. Lindsay has taken the time to share with the readership of his book their stories. He chronicles with great care the individual and collective roads traveled to bring evangelicals into the "Halls of Power." He also very careful differentiates the progressive evangelical leaders from the populist fundamentalist figures often see on TV. Top the outside world, the differences may be subtle or even invisible, but within the family of believers, the difference are significant.
Implicit throughout much of this book is the questions: "What are evangelical leaders doing with their new-found access to the halls of power? Are they handling that power as wise stewards?" One of the most enlightening observations comes near the conclusion of the book when Lindsay discusses the phenomenon of "convening power":
"Public leaders wield a particular kind of power, one that comes from their location within these influential networks. Convening power is the ability to bring disparate people together, like introducing a congressional staffer to a senior media executive. It is the ability to set agendas and to coordinate activity. Sociologist Harold Kerbo argues that elite power is the power over social networks, and this certainly proved true among the leaders I studied. Convening power is what this structural strength gives leaders. It enables them to marshal resources, to share information, and to deflect criticism. Elite power is the power to convene, and it is through their privileged positions within various social networks that leaders exercise it, bringing people together wand then introducing and recruiting others to join their causes. (Page 215)
Certainly, this book will be of interest and of value to anyone who proudly claims the label of "evangelical." It will be of equal interest and value to those outside of the evangelical circle who seek to understand its history and mission.
Since his departure from Rice University for a new leadership role in higher education as a College President, I'm looking forward to Lindsay's new book "View From the Top," and how his experience as a College president might translate to his next book.
I met Dr. Michael and spoke to him briefly in October, 2013 in New Jersey. He is full of life and fit as a fiddle to lead and serve at
Gordon College. He himself benefited personally from the answers he received from his survey.
I don't like the fact that little is written by Dr Lindsay about the working class who will bring and be behind the next Great Awakening in the US. Immigrants will be praying and reading the Bible and turning from sin. That may awake everyone!!! (Brazilians, Vietnames, those from all over the planet!)
Johnathon Edwards and George Whitefield and Azuza Street 1906 California believers and the JESUS PEOPLE that Larry Eskridge writes about in
God's Forever People, just published in the last year by Oxford UNIV Press, saw great sweeping cultural changes in the US in their time.
One Evangelical said, though, "The culture never was ours." Evangelicals will never see everyone in the US turn to the Bible and start praying and going to Bible believing churches.
Dr. Lindsay deserves five stars out of five though, for his research. Read it. Buy it!!!