Thoughts on May 15, 2011

Today my book, The Sword of the Lord: The Roots of Fundamentalism in an American Family, is published. I grew up struggling with a rich, powerful, and difficult heritage that shaped me in ways I did not even begin to understand. It was a heritage going back hundreds of years that featured profound love, intense suffering, deep faith in God, participation and support for racial injustice, and the inherited trauma of much violent conflict. Only now, at the age of 61, am I beginning to understand that legacy.

I hope you'll join me today at 5 PM Pacific time, in person at Town Hall Seattle, or via a livestream video on the Internet. Buy the book on Amazon tomorrow, Monday, May 16th, to help it become a bestseller! 

For much of my life, I’ve felt like I was in a dark space, stumbling around trying to learn who I was. I wanted badly to understand where I came from and why I am the way I am, with all of my craziness and passion. As I worked on the book over the past several years I’ve been on an amazing journey of discovery and self-discovery. I listened to scores of stories from my family, read and annotated a couple hundred books, and reflected and meditated on what I was learning. Along the way, I had to remind myself repeatedly to slow down, listen more carefully, and stretch to be more compassionate and less judgmental. My goal from the beginning was to tell a deeper story than I know how to tell. What I’ve learned is that the story I am called to tell is not merely my own, but rather a story told in communion with many unknown friends with whom I have shared a common history.

Today, a group of four women writers at the wonderful blog A Deeper Story: Tales of Christ and Culture published their collective review of my book The Sword of the Lord. Following are short excerpts from their reviews. You can read the complete review here.

Joy's Review: This book is difficult to read in places ‚Äì the material is painful and the history involves some of the ugliest chapters in our country‚Äôs history.  The stories of the South before, during, and immediately after the Civil War were almost physically painful to read, especially when Andy painted word pictures of the fallout of that war on people‚Äôs lives on both sides of the war and for all skin colors. But he makes the important point that we can only learn from our history if we know it accurately.

Tamara's Review: What stands out most clearly to me about Andrew Himes‚Äô The Sword of the Lord: The Roots of Fundamentalism in an American Family is that it is a personal work of love. Grandson of the prominent fundamentalist leader John R. Rice, Himes painstakingly details the origins of Christian fundamentalism from the 17th century Presbyterian Scots-Irish emigration to the American South up to the present day. Tracing his own family history throughout the broader picture of American history with candidness and compassion, Himes tells the story of how fundamentalism came into existence, how its shapers were themselves formed, and how, by numerous iterations,  it created a legacy ultimately so far fallen from the true fundamentals of Christianity, namely the unconditional love of God and others through Christ.

Erika's Review: Andrew, via your personal narrative, I feel like I was taken for a dive beneath the foundations of America‚Äôs dirt so I could stare at the roots that inform the fruit of our today. Story-telling by root-diving. I love it. This, in my opinion, is how we grasp who we are, where our persuaders come from, why we do the things we do, and how then shall we live in light of such bold understanding? I pray that you are richly blessed for the hours, the soul that you put into this book.

Nish's Review: After reading Andrew Himes‚Äô book, Sword of the Lord: The Roots of Fundamentalism in an American Family, I can unequivocally say that he is the perfect author to write about this particular thread of history. Himes takes the narrative of the Scots-Irish emigration to the US and weaves it seamlessly into his own family‚Äôs story ‚Äì creating a beautiful tapestry of the rich and raw history of the fundamentalist movement in America.

I am so grateful for this collective, gentle, and thoughtful review of my book. Thank you, Joy, Tamara, Erika, and Nish, for giving me the gift of your own stories.

Thanks for your help!
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