I’m not asking why they fail. The answer to that question has to do with how they lead, what gifts they have and whether they were ever in the right position to begin with. I’m asking why leaders crash.
Why does the member of Congress blow up a promising political career with an affair? Why does the CEO lose a position that could have netted him hundreds of millions of dollars because he mishandled a hundred thousand dollars? Why does one of our nation’s leading generals destroy his career in an embarrassing affair? Why does the NBA star with an adoring, beautiful wife have sex with a hotel employee and end
up criminally charged with rape? Why does the successful broadcaster say something so racist on the air that he sets his career back a decade? Why is the respected governor of a state found in the mountains of a foreign country hiding from the fallout over news he’s been having an affair? Why does the revered NFL quarterback forever damage his reputation by texting photos of his private parts to a woman who doesn’t want to see them? And a thousand more. Why?
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Abraham Lincoln is the most beloved of all U.S. presidents. He freed the slaves, gave the world some of its most beautiful phrases, and redefined the meaning of America. He did all of this with wisdom, compassion, and wit.
Yet, throughout his life, Lincoln fought with God. In his early years in Illinois, he rejected even the existence of God and became the village atheist. In time, this changed but still he wrestled with the truth of the Bible, preachers, doctrines, the will of God, the providence of God, and then, finally, God’s purposes in the Civil War. Still, on the day he was shot, Lincoln said he longed to go to Jerusalem to walk in the Savior’s steps.
What had happened? What was the journey that took Abraham Lincoln from outspoken atheist to a man who yearned to walk in the footsteps of Christ?
In this thrilling journey through a largely unknown part of American history, New York Times best-selling author Stephen Mansfield tells the richly textured story of Abraham Lincoln’s spiritual life and draws from it a meaning sure to inspire Americans today.
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Stephen Writes: “I have been studying the Mormon story for years. Their history, their persecutions, their empowered community, their doctrines and their current influence all fascinate me. I started this book long before we even knew Mr. Romney would run for the presidency, so the scope of the book is well beyond the current election.In the book, I define the current “Mormon Moment” and then move to Mormon history and beliefs before returning to their current successes and challenges. I think it is fair to say that this book was written in much the same spirit as my other books on leaders, politics and religion. It is intended as a search for the truth with some personal wrestling and attitude mixed in. I’m not a Mormon so there is some distance in what I write. I’m also a Christian, so there is some disagreement in what I write. But I think the result is a fair-minded but tough look at what Mormons are going to mean to our generation as they reach critical mass in American society. I’m hoping this helps us have a more informed and respectful dialogue about faith in this country.”
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Stephen Writes: “I like Oprah. I admire Oprah. I’d probably enjoy lunch with Oprah. Yet when I began to understand what kind of spirituality she was urging through her daily talk show and then through the programming on the Oprah Winfrey Network, I realized I wanted to both explore it and challenge it more fully. Oprah decided in her twenties that the Christianity of her youth was not for her and so she embraced the self-empowerment spirituality that became popular in the 1970s and 1980s—chanting, visualization, karma, channeling, the focused mental power of The Secret, all wrapped in a New Age reworking of Christianity. She has had a massive impact on our society and since I write about the faith side of history, leadership, and popular culture, I wanted to capture the Oprah faith story in this book. I think it is an important one for our time.”
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Stephen Writes: “When this book first came out during the presidential race of 2008, it was controversial. An evangelical, politically conservative writer was saying that Obama had a serious religious faith. It was true but his political enemies didn’t like it and raged against what I wrote. Still, the book was an international bestseller. Now, in this updated, expanded edition, readers are going to find that the president has made a dramatic turn in his religious life while in office. I imagine this will be as controversial as the first edition to some. Still, it is the truth and we ought to know it since it will surely impact Mr. Obama’s second term in office.”
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Stephen Writes: “I wrote this book on Guinness just as my office television portrayed all the horrors of the Wall Street collapse of recent years. It made me love the Guinness story all the more. In fact, I began to see in the Guinness tale an antidote to much that plagues corporations today. I found it refreshing. As I wrote in the introduction of this book, ‘I knew I had found it: that earthy, human, holy tale of a people honing a craft over time and of a family seeking to do good in the world as an offering to God. This was what my weary soul needed—a story thick like the smell of barley at the St. James Gate brewery and as filled with the bitter and the sweet as any generational tale is likely to be.’ I love the Guinness story.”
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A tribute to all returning veterans who are welcomed home by those who care. Buy Now Read More
Stephen writes: “When I was in Iraq, I watched men die. I watched severely wounded men ship home. I remember wondering what their reception would be. Would it be as it had been for my father’s generation of Vietnam vets? Would they be spit upon and hated? I have found, thankfully, that our nation has changed in its attitude toward the warrior, no matter its attitude toward the war. So I wrote some of the moving stories I’ve encountered about soldiers returning home. They are tender and inspiring and they make me want to be a better man, father, patriot and warrior. Amy Grant’s song, Welcome Home, is the perfect soundtrack for this sweet, tumultuous theme and I will always love her for pairing her song with my scratchings.”
Stephen writes: “I discovered in the 1970’s that love for radio which an older generation of American’s had long before found. I lived in Berlin, Germany, in those years, the son of an Army officer during the Cold War. Satellite TV had yet to evolve into what we know now and so, while my friends back home in the states were basking in the joys of cable TV, I was often to be found pressed against a radio to hear Casey Kasem count down the hits and something called “Theatre of the Mind” on Armed Forces Radio. This is when I discovered Paul Harvey. His voice became America for me, as fun as old men telling jokes on a small town square and filled with the wisdom of ages gone by. And he did something I thought no one could do: he made me love the past. His Rest of the Story helped me see beyond the numbing dates and dead people of history class and to the dramatic nobility of generations before. In time, history became my mistress, too, and I live in the knowledge that it was Paul Harvey who first stirred this love. How very grateful I am.”
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Stephen writes: “When I had gone through a horrible church hurt myself, I began to realize how epidemic such things are. My friend George Barna has done a survey confirming that nearly forty percent of the folks we call “unchurched” in America are actually embittered ex-church members. This is tragic and it should change the way we approach the “un-churched” in America. Many of them are already Christians who are simply angry about how they’ve been treated by other believers. So, I wrote this book to show them a path to wholeness of soul and to show the way home. This is certainly my most personal and my hardest-hitting book. It needed to be. I trust it will help heal the current epidemic of ‘church hurt’ in this country.”
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Stephen writes: “My co-author, David Holland, and I did not write this book because we are endorsing the political aspirations of Sarah Palin. Instead, we believe that Sarah Palin’s presence on the national stage has exposed some fault lines in American culture and that these fault lines are essential to understanding our society today. Whether she meant to or not, Palin has stepped onto fault lines between politically conservative and liberal Americans, of course, but also fault lines that have to do with a rural/urban divide in our land, with a secular/religious divide, with a new feminism/old feminism divide and even with an Eastern elite/man-on-the-street conservatism divide. Whatever her political future, her presence on our national stage today should be understood by those who want to know the direction of America. That is why we wrote this important book.”
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Stephen writes: “Of all my books, this one is perhaps dearest to my heart. The reason is not only that I am an Army brat but also that I spent so many stirring days with the troops in Iraq to dig out the stories I recount here. My goal, though, was not just to tell exciting stories of heroism or faith, but to make the case for a faith-based warrior code. I probably wrote as an advocate for a position more in this book than I have in anything else I’ve written. I don’t apologize for it though. I believe in the nobility of the warrior’s call and I believe our nation owes its warriors that they are only deployed in morally clear circumstances with defined objectives, unflinching support and honorable welcome upon their return. I think faith plays a role in all this and I’m glad I had a chance to push that agenda forward a bit. On the personal side, nothing has moved me quite like the men and women who come up to me at my signings and speeches to tell me about their experiences in war. We have wept together and I have often thanked long-time veterans for serving only to have them tell me it is the first time they’ve ever been thanked. I can’t express how grateful I am to have been graced by these noble souls.”
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Stephen writes: “I wrote this book because I believe that George W. Bush’s journey to faith is one of the defining stories of our time. Not only is he typical of his generation, in that he found faith after surfing the spiritual and sensual currents of his age, but he is symbolic of the religious fascination of our times. His emphasis on faith in the White House is forcing a reconsideration of the First Amendment, the theological basis of law, and the myth of our secular society. Beyond this, though, his story is just amazing: a prince of power who failed to achieve until faith gave him a sense of destiny. The fact that this book has become a New York Times bestseller means that Bush’s tale of faith hits a responsive chord in the American soul.”
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Stephen writes: “I am not Roman Catholic in faith but my life has been profoundly shaped by Roman Catholics. Catholic nuns prayed for my mother’s troubled pregnancy when she carried me, Roman Catholics were among my first spiritual influences once I became a Christian, Roman Catholics have stood with me most courageously in protecting the unborn and it is Roman Catholics like Pat Buchanan and Michael Novak who have inspired much of my worldview. I have written this book on Benedict XVI because I am fascinated with the influence of the papacy in our world and because I wanted to say “thank you.” Though I am an unapologetic Protestant, I drink deeply from the Catholic stream in church history. How grateful I am for the refreshing I have found in that stream, as I hope this book will show.”
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Stephen writes: “Church historians and missiologists call the twentieth century the “Century of the Holy Spirit.” This is largely because of the transforming series of spiritual renewals that occurred throughout the century. First, there were the Pentecostal revivals in the early part of the century, followed by the “Latter Rain” renewals just after World War II, and, finally, the Charismatic Renewal which began in the early 1960′s. These renewals combined formed the largest single movement in the history of the Church.
As historians gain perspective on the last century and its spiritual movements, the name of Derek Prince will come into greater prominence. He was father to much of what the Christian Church, particularly the Charismatic and Pentecostal portions of the Church, now enjoy. His teaching grew out of a fascinating personal life that included life as a soldier during World War II, witnessing the birth of modern Israel, pastoring in post-war London, and guiding the Charismatic movement, largely in the United States. To understand faith in our time, it is essential to know something of the life of Derek Prince.”
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Stephen writes: “The last hundred years of black history in America have been bound up with the story of civil rights. Thank God, but there is more to the story. Booker T. Washington, the founder of Tuskegee Institute who was born a slave, pressed the question of what kind of people blacks ought to be once they had their freedom, once their rights were assured. He said that character, industry, and faith would win what civil rights alone could not give. He was right, and I wrote this book to inspire a new generation of blacks to reach for the higher prize.”
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Stephen writes: “Of all my books, this is my favorite. The reason is that so few people know about George Whitefield. He came to faith under the tutelage of the Wesleys at Oxford in the early 1700′s and then became one of the greatest preachers in Church history. Beyond his preaching, he built schools, publishing houses, orphanages, and universities that survive today. What amazes me about him most is his forgotten role in American history. He was the first “intercolonial event.” He not only unified the colonies with his crusades but he called them both to faith and to a reclaiming of their destiny when that destiny was in question. Then, he warned the colonial leaders of King George III’s intentions to control their religious lives. This fed the fires of revolution. I think it is pure anti-religious bias that writes him out of our textbooks and thus out of the American memory. I wrote this book to make him live in our hearts again.”
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Stephen writes: “I have a bias. I hate it when famous men and women are remembered only for their achievements without any reference to the dark hours and private pain that made those achievements possible. Everyone knows the story of Winston Churchill. They remember the jaunty cigar, bowler hat, inspiring speeches and sense of humor. But do they know that Churchill’s father hated him? Do they know that he was a sickly stutterer who did horribly in school and suffered such deep depression during his life that he never wanted to stay in a room with a balcony because he was afraid he might throw himself off? And this was while he was Prime Minister of England rallying the western democracies to defeat Nazism! I wrote this book because I wanted people with failures in their lives to know that those failures are never final, that suffering becomes the soil from which greatness grows.”
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Stephen writes, “I wish I could say that this book was my idea. Instead, the inspiration came from Governor Don Sundquist, who decided that Tennessee’s bicentennial celebration would not be complete without a tribute to the religious heritage of the state. Fortunately, he gave me the privilege of telling that story of faith, along with my dear friend George Grant.
Our thesis in the book is that Tennessee is a small state that has nevertheless had its greatest impact on America in the arena of religion. From revivals to religious publishing, from Christian music to the birth of denominations, the religious history of Tennessee has determined the religious history of the United States as much, if not more, than any other state. It is a fascinating tale, a tapestry of conviction that is both inspiring and essential to understanding religion in our own time.”
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Stephen writes: “I hated history, I hated history class, I hated history teachers, and I hated those ninety pound history textbooks they made us carry around. I wasn’t alone. Survey’s show that most people hated history class only slightly less than they hated their school lunch. That’s bad. The truth is, though, that once people get liberated from the classroom version of history, they love the real stuff. Think of it: historical films, historical novels, historical PBS specials, historical theme parks-all of these are more popular than ever. So, I wrote this book to heal the historically abused and to show how a Christian approach to history makes the past a thrilling, inspiring tool in our lives.”
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