In speaking engagements around the country I hear stories of those recovering from the wounds or abuse of fundamentalist Christianity. In his new book The Sword of the Lord: The Roots of Fundamentalism in an American Family, Andrew Himes offers a path to healing and transforming those experiences.
In the telling of our stories a spiritual pathway of connecting stories is revealed. As we listen with attentiveness to our own story and those of others we are on sacred terrain in which the Holy is revealed through connecting stories.
I am a friend and admirer of Andrew Himes’ work. In The Sword of the Lord he offers a lavish invitation to discovering the Holy in our stories and experiences of fundamentalism that may have caused us to believe in a harsh, unforgiving and dour God.
Himes’ invitation comes through telling the stories of his own family who were formative leaders within American fundamentalism. Among them is his grandfather John R. Rice whose opinions expressed in his weekly paper named The Sword of the Lord exerted more influence on twentieth century fundamentalism than any other single person.
The book is an eye-opener in revealing the crucial role that fundamentalism played in much of American history from the Civil War and Reconstruction to Civil Rights. If love is the only commandment offered by Christ and justice is its expression you will leave this book wondering where love and fundamentalism intersect for those who are not part of fundamentalism’s restrictive and harsh interpretation of Christ’s teachings.
The arc of Andrew Himes’ story is the captivating glue of this book. As he journeys away from the fundamentalism of his own family to explore other teachings and traditions Himes travels a journey to a fuller, more expansive and generous love of the Holy.
As he enters into a mutual telling and listening to stories with members of his own family you feel privileged to be present for experiences of hearts cracked open to one another. It is in these powerful connecting stories that you experience the transformation of hearts and lives.
On one level this book is a must read for anyone seeking to understand or make sense of American fundamentalism. For any of us who have been shaped, formed or disfigured by fundamentalism The Sword of the Lord is an invitation to take some next steps on your own journey of healing.
For anyone interested in the power of storytelling and the pathway that connecting stories offer on our journey to becoming fully alive and fully human this book is filled with wise, compassionate and deeply engaging examples of how to authentically make such a journey.
If you buy The Sword of the Lord today on Amazon you will help make it on to the top ten best seller list of the day. Whenever you buy it and read it, it will become a familiar companion of hope, transformation and generous radiant living.
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