The *Believe Me* Book Tour Comes to Princeton University

WIlson View

The view from my “Visitors” office at the Wilson School

I spent the lunch hour today at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affair at Princeton University.   The Wilson School, in conjunction with the Princeton Center for the Study of Religion, hosted me for a book discussion on Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump.  We had a nice turnout of graduate students and faculty from both the Department of Religion and the Wilson School.  Thanks to Jenny Wiley Legath for hosting me and providing me with a great parking spot in front of Robertson Hall! 🙂

Wilson School

Look Mom and Dad, I have an office at Princeton!  🙂

Taking Care of Business

OnTheRoad

7:45am:  Voted at my local polling place

12:00pm:  At Princeton University for an event on Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump co-sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson Center and the Center for the Study of Religion.

2:15pm:  On Canadian television  (CBC News Network) to talk evangelicals and the election.

7:00pm: In Scranton, Pennsylvania area to watch the Mechanicsburg Area High School girls soccer team compete in the first round of the state tournament vs. Dallas High School.

9:00-12:00pm:  On call with Canadian Broadcast Corporation radio coverage of the 2018 midterms.

Long day.

*Believe Me* at the Evangelical Theological Society

ETS-Logo

I have never been to the Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society  before.  It is not my professional crowd.  But when a few members asked if they could put together a session on Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump, I agreed to participate.  See you in Denver on November 13, 2018.  I have never been part of a 3 hour and 10 minute conference session before, so this should be interesting.  I am sure I will have much to support.

9:00 AM-12:10 PM

American Christianity

A Review Session of Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump by John Fea

Tower Building–Mezzanine Level Silver

Moderator: Miles S. Mullin II (Hannibal-LaGrange University)

9:00-9:15AM

Miles S. Mullin II (Hannibal-LaGrange University)

Introduction of the book and the presenters

9:15-9:45 AM

Justin Taylor (Crossway Books)

9:50-10:20 AM

Gary Steward (Colorado Christian College)

10:25-10:55AM

Jemar Tisby (University of Mississippi)

11:00-11:25AM

John Fea (Messiah College)

11:25AM-12:10PM

Panel and Audience Discussion

The *Believe Me* Book Tour Comes to Laurel, Maryland

emmanuel umc feature 5.64485789

I had a wonderful morning last Sunday with the good folks at Emmanuel United Methodist Church in Laurel, Maryland.  I spoke on the theme of hope in both the morning services and then met with about thirty church members who have spent the last several weeks reading and discussing Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump.  Thanks to Rev. Stephanie Vader for inviting me.

Emmanuel is a small church, but the members of the congregation are thoughtful Christians who are filled with spiritual life and vitality.  I was blessed by my visit and found myself on the drive home wishing I could be part of their community on a more regular basis.  Emmanuel is a church striving to speak truth to power in the age of Trump by living lives defined by justice, compassion, mercy, love, peace and humility.

You can watch the service here.

The *Believe Me* Book Tour Comes to Northwest Arkansas

Reimagining

I spent the day on Wednesday at John Brown University (JBU) in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. (It was my first trip to the “Natural State”).  Trisha Posey, Director of the University Honors Program, and Daniel Bennett, Assistant Professor of Political Science, invited me to participate in the university’s 2nd Annual Reimagining Faith and Public Life event.

After a great dinner at the home of JBU president Chip Pollard, I was happy to share the stage for the main event with Jonathan Leeman, a Christian writer, theologian, pastor and editorial director of a Christian website called 9Marks.  Leeman is the author of How the Nations Rage: Rethinking Faith and Politics a Divided AgeTrisha moderated a fruitful discussion about how evangelicals can move beyond a Christian Right approach to politics.

Reimagining Faith and Public Life was actually the culminating event of a day full of teaching and conversation at JBU.  It began with breakfast (Rikki Skopp is an absolutely amazing baker!) and fellowship with JBU honors faculty.  I then had the privilege of teaching Trisha’s first-year honors seminar “Faithful Leadership in Times of Crisis.”  Trisha and her students are studying historical examples of Christian leaders who led during difficult times.  So far they have looked at Sophie Scholl, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and the monks of the medieval period. Later in the semester they will study the lives of Oscar Romero, John Woolman, Martin Luther King, Jr., Galileo, Leymah Gbowee, and a few others.  I am not sure if Abraham Lincoln can be considered a “faithful leader,” but he was certainly a leader in a “time of crisis.”  I chose to focus on his Second Inaugural Address as a theological reflection on the Civil War.  Lincoln’s religious take on the war was quite different from the writing and rhetoric of the leading Protestant theologians of the day.

After class I spent some time with one of Trisha’s students who is writing a very interesting paper on Reinhold Niebuhr’s critique of Billy Graham and mid-century American evangelicalism.  We chatted about the current state of the evangelical movement (is there such a thing?) and if there is anything that Niebuhr might be able to teach present-day evangelicals.

JBU 2

After lunch with JBU faculty, I headed to Dan Bennett’s American Government class where I led students in a discussion of Chapter 1 of Believe Me“The Evangelical Politics of Fear.”  Our discussion of “fear” led to a conversation about same-sex marriage and somehow ended with a focus on “nostalgia” and Christian nationalism.  Our discussion was all over the map, but the students seemed engaged.

JBU 1

Finally, I had a chance to meet with the members of two faculty-staff JBU book clubs who have been reading Believe Me.  As I fielded questions about the book I continued to learn more about the strengths and weakness of my argument.  At some point a book has to go to the publisher, appear in print, and be consumed by the public. But I find that I am always refining my thinking about a project through an engagement with readers.  It is flattering to have your ideas taken seriously and it is especially flattering when those ideas are taken seriously by such a vibrant and engaged group of academics, human resource professionals, advancement officers, and students.

I felt at home all day at JBU.  I hope to return some time soon.

Travel tip:  When flying to the airport in Fayetteville, Arkansas be careful not to board a plane for Fayetteville, North Carolina.  Yes, this almost happened.  FYI: Fayetteville, Arkansas airport appears on the display as “Northwest Arkansas” or “Bentonville.”

Stay tuned for the next stop on the Believe Me book tour: Sunday, October 28th at Emmanuel United Methodist Church in Laurel, Maryland.

The *Believe Me* Book Tour Comes to Dallas

SMU 1

Last Thursday night the Believe Me book tour visited Southern Methodist University in Dallas.  The Center for Presidential History served as host.  Thanks to Brian Franklin, Assistant Director of the Center, and Jeff Engel, Director, for the invitation.  And thanks to Ronna Spitz for coordinating all the details.  They did a great job promoting the event in the greater Dallas area and as a result more than 200 people showed-up!  The crowd was largely sympathetic, but there were clearly some Trump supporters in the room who did not agree with everything I said in the lecture.  And no, Robert Jeffress did not come to the lecture (I have now been asked that a couple of times), but the first question from the audience was from a man who occasionally attends Jeffress’s church (First Baptist–Dallas) and was trying to figure out how the Dallas megachurch pastor reconciled his biblical sermons with his Fox News pundit.

SMU 2

The SMU student newspaper covered the event here.

SMU 3

On Wednesday, October 17 I  will be at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas.   Stay tuned.

The *Believe Me* Book Tour is Headed to the Senate Building

50368-capitol-hill-4

On Wednesday morning, October 10, I will be on Capitol Hill (Dirksen Senate building) to speak to about 100 evangelical leaders gathered for the National Association of Evangelicals’ annual “Washington Briefing.”

The NAE leadership has asked me to talk about Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump.  The event is not open to the public, but I can announce that I will be sharing the day with Rep. Carlos Curbelo, Mark Green, Nathan Gonzalez, Shirley Hoogstra, Ali Noorani, Sen. James Lankford, Brian Walsh, Barbara Williams-Skinner, Sen. Marco Rubio, Stephanie Summers, and Os Guinness.

Stay tuned.

The *Believe Me* Book Tour Rolls Through Elkhart, Indiana and Holland, Michigan

Hope College

During the Q&A session at Taylor University on Tuesday night someone asked me if my work at a college with Anabaptist roots (Messiah College) influenced what I wrote in Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald TrumpIt was a great question–one that I have thought a lot about.  Historian Jared Burkholder made the same observation a few months ago.

This question was on my mind again on Wednesday afternoon when I spoke to a group of faculty, students, and staff at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) in Elkhart, Indiana.  During the conversation following my talk, I realized that a lot of my thinking about religion, politics, justice, and public life is very compatible with the views of my Mennonite brothers and sisters, especially when it comes to the Christian nationalism that drives so many white evangelicals.  I felt at home at AMBS.  At the same time, I also realized that Anabaptism and Evangelicalism are quite different, especially when it comes to the theology of the atonement and the role that doctrine plays in Christian identity.  After talking to folks at AMBS, I realized that I need to go back and re-read Burkholder and David Cramer’s book The Activist Impulse: Essays on the Intersection of Evangelicalism and Anabaptists.

Fea at AMBS

Thanks to Janna Hunter-Bowman for the invitation and thanks to everyone who came out for the talk, including David Cramer and AMBS president Sara Wenger Shenk.

After the AMBS visit I drove up to Holland, Michigan for an evening talk at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.  We had a great turnout and one of the more engaging Q&A sessions of the tour.  Thanks to Jeanne Pettit of the Hope history department for the invitation.  It was also great to see my old friend and Hope historian Fred Johnson and meet so many Hope professors, including Lynn Japinga, Aaron Franzen, Wayne Tan, Mark Baer (who is leading a church reading group on Believe Me), Janis Gibbs, Steven Bouma-Prediger, David Ryden, and Virginia Beard.

I tweeted about my favorite moment of the night:

On to Calvin College for the meeting of the Conference on Faith and History. See you there.

The *Believe Me* Book Tour Rolls Through Grand Rapids, Michigan and Upland, Indiana

Fea at Cornerstone

Good crowd for a noontime talk at Cornerstone University

Yesterday started at Anna’s House in Grand Rapids where I had breakfast with my favorite Calvin College student. 🙂

I then headed over to Cornerstone University for my first book talk of the day.  A Trump supporter in the audience accused me of hubris, implied that I supported the murder of babies, and informed me that my reference to my evangelical background was an attempt to engage in “identity politics,” but after this opening “question,” things settled down and we had a fruitful conversation about Trump and evangelicals.  Thanks to everyone who took some time out of their day to come to a noontime lecture and special thanks to history professor Martin Spence for the invitation!

Some pics:

Spence and Fea

With Martin Spence and his poster advertising my visit.

I spent the afternoon on Interstate 69 traveling to an evening lecture at Taylor University.  (Thank goodness for Sirius/XM radio I was entertained by Bruce Springsteen CNN, NPR, “the 70s on 7” and Chris “Mad Dog” Russo).

A great crowd of students and faculty showed-up for the lecture.  After the talk I spent an hour or two in some informal conversation with about 20 Taylor honors students.  I am always impressed by the thoughtfulness of the young evangelicals I meet at events like this.  We spent time wrestling with the definition of “evangelical” (most of them do not describe themselves as “evangelicals,” preferring to use the word “Christian” instead), talked about the place of the humanities at a Christian college, and reflected on the best ways for Christians to engage with politics (I recommended works by James Davison Hunter and Glenn Tinder).

Taylor

Thanks to Steve Austin and Jeff Cramer for the invitation.

That’s all for now.  Today I will be at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana at noon and Hope College this evening.  Then it is back to Calvin College for the biennial meeting of the Conference on Faith and History.  Stay tuned.

The *Believe Me* Book Tour Rolls Through the Midwest This Week

Believe Me 3d

October 2, 2018
Cornerstone University,
Grand Rapids, MI  11:30-1:00pm
Lecture on Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump

October 2, 2018
Taylor University, Upland, IN 7:30pm
Lecture on Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump

October 3, 2018
Hope College, Holland, MI7:00pm
Lecture on Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump

October 3, 2018
Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, IN, 12:00pm
Discussion of Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump

October 4-6, 2018 (This event is not part of the Believe Me tour).
Biennial Meeting of the Conference on Faith and History, Grand Rapids, MI
Program Chair: “History and the Search for Meaning: The CFH at 50”

The *Believe Me* Book Tour is Coming to Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana

AMBS

I will be talking about Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) in Elkhart on October 3, 2018.  The event is part of the AMBS Noon Lunch Forum and will take place in the Lambright Dining Hall at noon.

The event is open to the public, but the organizers ask that you RSVP if you wish to enjoy the meal ($6.50) that will be served during the talk.  If you are coming for lunch please send an e-mail by Monday to lkvandrick(at)ambs(dot)edu

The *Believe Me* Book Tour Comes to Valparaiso University

The Believe Me book tour rolled through my old stomping grounds on Tuesday night.  I taught at Valparaiso University from 2000-2002 as a Lilly Fellow in the Humanities and the Arts.  Here is the first house we lived in:

Valpo House

268 McIntyre Court, Valparaiso, Indiana

Then we had a sewer back-up in Spring 2001 and moved a few doors down to this house:

Valpo House 2

260 McIntyre Court, Valparaiso, Indiana

I am thankful to Joe Creech, Program Director of the Lilly Fellows Program, and Joe Goss, Assistant Program Director, for inviting me back to Valpo to speak about the book.  I had dinner with five impressive Lilly Fellows and we had a spirited discussion about public scholarship, evangelicalism, Trump, and church-related colleges and universities.  Thanks to Ashleigh Elser, Daniel Silliman, Jason Gehrke, Christine Hedlin, and Cassandra Painter for the conversation.  If you have a job opening at your college or university you need to give these young scholars a serious look.

Rather than a traditional book talk, Daniel Silliman, a historian of American religion, interviewed me.  Jared Burkholder, a historian at Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana, was present and blogged about the event here.

Silliman and Fea

And thanks to Ashleigh Elser for the kind introduction.

Earlier in the day, I spent an hour or so in the Linwood House, the former Valparaiso University president’s home and the building that houses the Lilly Fellows Program. A lot has changed in the house, but the living room, the place where the Lilly Fellows and their mentors gather together each week to talk about faith, higher education, and academic vocation, looks relatively the same as it did eighteen years ago:

Linwood

The Linwood House

I also found a bookshelf full of books written by former Lilly Fellows.  If you look closely at the pics, you will see books by historians Mary Beth Connolly, Kathy Sprows Cummings, Lisa Deam, Darren Dochuk, Robert Elder, Andrew Finstuen, Matthew Hedstrom, Paul Harvey, Mary Henold, Thomas Albert (Tal) Howard, Louis Nelson, James Kennedy, Matthew Lundin, John McGreevy, Peter Mercer-Taylor, James Skillen, and Stephanie Yuhl.

Valpo Shelf 9

Valpo Book 4

Valpo Book 5

Valpo 3

Valpo Shelf 8

Valpo 7

Valpo Book 6

It was great to see so many old friends and make some new friends in Valpo this week!

The *Believe Me* Book Tour Meets “Things Not Seen” Radio at the University of Chicago

Last night the Believe Me book tour made a stop at the Seminary Co-op Bookstore on the campus of the University of Chicago.  On most stops on the tour I give a 20-minute book talk followed by a Q&A session, but this time around we teamed-up with David Dault of the “Things Not Seen” radio program.   It was great to see old friends and make some new ones at the event.  Thanks to David and the staff of the Seminary Co-op for hosting!

Here are some pics:

Seminary Coop 1

Photo by Matt Lakemacher

Seminary Coop 2

Photo by Matt Lakemacher

Seminary Coop 3

Lynn Pattison and Matt Lakemacher, alumni of the Gilder-Lehrman “Princeton Seminar” on Colonial America were in attendance last night.  They teach social studies in Gurnee, IL

At Valparaiso University tonight!

Leg 2 of the *Believe Me* Book Tour Starts on Monday

Believe Me 3dI hope to see some of you on the road!

September 24, 2018
University of Chicago Seminary Co-Op Bookstore, Chicago, IL, 6pm
Book Talk: Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump

September 25, 2018
Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN 6:30pm
Lecture: “The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump”

October 2, 2018
Cornerstone University, Grand Rapids, MI  11:30-1:00pm
Lecture on Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump

October 2, 2018
Taylor University, Upland, IN 7:30pm
Lecture on Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump

October 3, 2018
Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, IN, 12:00pm
Discussion of Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump

October 3, 2018
Hope College, Holland, MI7:00pm
Lecture on Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump

October 11, 2018
Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas
Public lecture on Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump

October 10, 2018
National Association of Evangelicals Washington Briefing, Washington D.C.
Discussion of Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump (Private event)

October 17-18, 2018
John Brown University, Siloam Springs, Arkansas
Public lecture on Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump

October 28, 2018
Emmanuel United Methodist Church, Laurel, MD
Question and Answer Session on Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump

November 6, 2018
Woodrow Wilson School and Center for Study of Religion, Princeton, NJ
“Crossroads of Religion” Discussion Series on “The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump”

November 13-15, 2018
Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, Denver, CO
Session on Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump

And I am happy to announce that there will be a third leg of the tour, beginning in January 2019 and extending through the Spring.  We are currently booking dates.  Stay tuned for more information about visits to Eastern Mennonite University, the University of Southern California, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, and Greensboro College.