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God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life

de Paul Kengor

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Ronald Reagan is hailed today for a presidency that restored optimism to America, engendered years of economic prosperity, and helped bring about the fall of the Soviet Union. Yet until now little attention has been paid to the role Reagan's personal spirituality played in his political career, shaping his ideas, bolstering his resolve, and ultimately compelling him to confront the brutal -- and, not coincidentally, atheistic -- Soviet empire. In this groundbreaking book, political historian Paul Kengor draws upon Reagan's legacy of speeches and correspondence, and the memories of those who knew him well, to reveal a man whose Christian faith remained deep and consistent throughout his more than six decades in public life. Raised in the Disciples of Christ Church by a devout mother with a passionate missionary streak, Reagan embraced the church after reading a Christian novel at the age of eleven. A devoted Sunday-school teacher, he absorbed the church's model of "practical Christianity" and strived to achieve it in every stage of his life. But it was in his lifelong battle against communism -- first in Hollywood, then on the political stage -- that Reagan's Christian beliefs had their most profound effect. Appalled by the religious repression and state-mandated atheism of Bolshevik Marxism, Reagan felt called by a sense of personal mission to confront the USSR. Inspired by influences as diverse as C.S. Lewis, Whittaker Chambers, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, he waged an openly spiritual campaign against communism, insisting that religious freedom was the bedrock of personal liberty. "The source of our strength in the quest for human freedom is not material, but spiritual," he said in his Evil Empire address. "And because it knows no limitation, it must terrify and ultimately triumph over those who would enslave their fellow man." From a church classroom in 1920s Dixon, Illinois, to his triumphant mission to Moscow in 1988, Ronald Reagan was both political leader and spiritual crusader. God and Ronald Reagan deepens immeasurably our understanding of how these twin missions shaped his presidency -- and changed the world.… (més)
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While always a huge fan of Ronald Reagan, Paul Kengor brings to light his spiritual life. I never knew how much this shaped his politics more than simple patriotism. Regrettably, the author had to "broad brush" so much of his life but, hopefully, his next book will fill in other details. ( )
  parapreacher | Mar 17, 2018 |
INDEX, NOTES
  saintmarysaccden | May 14, 2013 |
So encouraging to see that such a great man was profoundly influenced by his faith and valued it deeply. I'm inspired by his witness in every situation he faced. ( )
  ORFisHome | Jul 13, 2009 |
I am glad I read this book. Ronald Reagan became a Christian at an early age. He knew that being a Christian is more than simply wearing the label or going to church. I learned that he was influenced by Harold Bell Wright's novel, That Printer of Udell's, so I had to read it also. Wright was a member of the Disciples of Christ, as was Reagan.

The strength of Reagan's belief in the teachings of Christ helps one understand his strong anti-communist attitude an actions, as its early proponents, at least, were atheists and very much anti-Christian. The author documents all this very well. He also does a good job connecting the dots, that is associating Reagan's Christian influences and beliefs with specific behavior he exhibited throughout his life, particularly when he was President of the United States.

I think the book taking the time to read by anyone who loves American history or who is interested in learning about political figures who were members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). They will likely learn about a good side of a President that they would never learn elsewhere.

The book is well documented. Indexed. ( )
  SCRH | Oct 17, 2008 |
Not particularly well written, but very interesting. I always assumed that Reagan was giving lip service to religion like all the other presidents. But he seemed to be quite strong in his faith. Paul Kengor appears to believe that Reagan's faith brought down the Iron Curtain. Well referenced.
  tkraft | Jan 25, 2008 |
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Ronald Reagan is hailed today for a presidency that restored optimism to America, engendered years of economic prosperity, and helped bring about the fall of the Soviet Union. Yet until now little attention has been paid to the role Reagan's personal spirituality played in his political career, shaping his ideas, bolstering his resolve, and ultimately compelling him to confront the brutal -- and, not coincidentally, atheistic -- Soviet empire. In this groundbreaking book, political historian Paul Kengor draws upon Reagan's legacy of speeches and correspondence, and the memories of those who knew him well, to reveal a man whose Christian faith remained deep and consistent throughout his more than six decades in public life. Raised in the Disciples of Christ Church by a devout mother with a passionate missionary streak, Reagan embraced the church after reading a Christian novel at the age of eleven. A devoted Sunday-school teacher, he absorbed the church's model of "practical Christianity" and strived to achieve it in every stage of his life. But it was in his lifelong battle against communism -- first in Hollywood, then on the political stage -- that Reagan's Christian beliefs had their most profound effect. Appalled by the religious repression and state-mandated atheism of Bolshevik Marxism, Reagan felt called by a sense of personal mission to confront the USSR. Inspired by influences as diverse as C.S. Lewis, Whittaker Chambers, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, he waged an openly spiritual campaign against communism, insisting that religious freedom was the bedrock of personal liberty. "The source of our strength in the quest for human freedom is not material, but spiritual," he said in his Evil Empire address. "And because it knows no limitation, it must terrify and ultimately triumph over those who would enslave their fellow man." From a church classroom in 1920s Dixon, Illinois, to his triumphant mission to Moscow in 1988, Ronald Reagan was both political leader and spiritual crusader. God and Ronald Reagan deepens immeasurably our understanding of how these twin missions shaped his presidency -- and changed the world.

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