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God and Hillary Clinton: A Spiritual Life Paperback – August 26, 2008
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About the Author
Paul Kengor is the author of the New York Times extended-list bestseller God and Ronald Reagan as well as God and George W. Bush and The Crusader. He is a professor of political science and director of the Center for Vision and Values at Grove City College. He lives with his wife and children in Grove City, Pennsylvania.
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Where to start, reviewing a 'spiritual biography' of one of the most divisive public figures in recent US history. Well, firstly, this book isn't all that good. It's really not. I've read it several times and each time I'm kind of confused as to exactly why it's not very good. But it's pretty much the only book on the subject of what makes HRC tick, so I'm kind of stuck with it.
For nuts and bolts, it's fine; as biography it's okay. But when it gets to actually doing what it says it does: illuminate HRC's inner faith, this book just doesn't quite cut it. Kengor himself admits, now, that the book was unsuccessful, at least financially; he says it's because one faction disregarded HRC's faith as irrelevant, and the other faction disregarded her faith as somehow not 'REAL' Christianity. This book does establish that the subject is in fact a devoted, even devout, Christian, just not of the Fundamentalist variety, so... Kengor reveals himself as leaning Fundamentalist, and his biography is seriously slanted, if not completely biased, in that direction.
I think the reason this book is not that great is not really because it's bad, exactly. I think it's incomplete. For all his efforts Kengor doesn't seem to have a firm grasp of women's roles in the Methodist Church; one gets the impression he actually doesn't know very much about women personally. His book describes doctrines and teachings, but can't seem to grasp that within churches and religious organizations some groups, factions, especially women's factions, and extra-especially women's factions dedicated to charity work and community outreach and, you know, actually doing stuff with other people, may, through sheer practicality, deviate substantially from the stated written doctrines of the greater organization.
I would encourage readers of this book, people really interested in finding out what makes Hillary Rodham Clinton what and how she is, search out some books and narratives about women's organizations and outreach in the Methodist Church history. I did, and was very surprised to find that research resulted in a much greater appreciation and respect for who and what HRC is. Two books I highly recommend for a fuller picture are:
'As Among The Methodists', Elizabeth Lee
'St. Mark's and the Social Gospel', Ellen Blue
Okay, that's all I got.
Dr. Kengor is charitable in his assessment that Hillary has kept her Christian faith through all of these chapters in her life. One could easily surmise, however, that Hillary has long since traded her Christianity for a secular, Marxist, utopian "golden calf" to which she attaches a flimsy "Christian" label whenever it is politically expedient.
In many ways, Hillary has been a victim of her circumstances. She was victimized by her youth minister, Don Jones, who began her indoctrination into Marxist Christianity. She was victimized by her parents' inattentiveness by failing to monitor what Jones was teaching her, and who later allowed her to attend left-wing havens like Wellesley and Yale, which completed her indoctrination. She was victimized by the rise of the counter-culture during her period of intellectual development which kept her from realizing the value of Western civilization and the intellectual vapidity of its detractors. But despite this, she is still ultimately responsible for becoming the secular, power-hungry, political opportunist that she is today.
A spiritual biography is an interesting approach on the life of arguably the most prominent politician in the last two decades. Kengor's book paints a tragic life (though I'm sure Hillary herself is completely unaware what a tragedy it is.) It's not the tragedy of the hurts suffered on account of her husband and her critics. The real tragedy is the loss of her soul by the seduction of power.
Hillary has a strong background in Methodism, which she pretty much sticks with except for her foray with Jean Houston and the Eleanor Roosevelt episode. The author does a good job of showing how Hillary's religion influenced her politics. In some places I found the book hard to read as there were discourses on politics and religion and philosophy, some of which I did not totally understand. Overall, I feel this book was a goood treatment of the subject and worth reading. -- Valerie Lull, Author, Ten Healthy Teas