Thanks to everyone who came out last night at Carmichael’s Bookstore in Louisville, Kentucky. It was good to see some old friends and make some new ones. I even ran into some blog readers who saw my post about the Kansas Council for History Education t-shirts, bought a couple of them, and wore them to the event! (Attention Emily Williams and Nate McAlister!)
After the talk and signing I was honored to spend a few hours with some Southern Baptist seminary faculty and church history graduate students. We had great conversation over coffee.
As I talk with the folks who come to these events for Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump, a narrative seems to be emerging. People are deeply troubled about the state of evangelical Christianity in America. Last night I heard stories of men and women deeply scarred by experiences with authoritarian, politically-driven evangelical Christianity. Some have left evangelicalism for the Protestant mainline. Others have left Christianity entirely. Still others are in search of a more hopeful Christianity. Evangelical pastors are wondering how they can minister to congregations divided by politics.
These people are telling me their stories–sometimes through tears. The other night I spoke with an evangelical Christian who said that he felt more at home with the people he met at the book signing than he did at his own evangelical church. What does this say about the state of the evangelical church?
I expected a lot of knock-down, drag-out political debates on this book tour. Instead I am hearing from a lot of hurting people. I am trying to offer encouragement and prayers. But mostly I am just trying to listen.
We have reached the weekend. Tonight I will be in Charleston, West Virginia. On Saturday I will be in Lynchburg, Virginia. On Sunday I will be in Raleigh, NC. On Monday I will be in Winchester, Virginia. I hope to see you at one of these great independent bookstores.