Rediscovering God in America
By Newt Gingrich
Integrity Publishers, a Division of Integrity Media, Inc. – Copyright 2006
Available at all major books stores- Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Walden, Schuster, etc.
Non-Fiction. A walking tour of our nation’s capital and it’s glorious architecture and unending beauty. It is coupled with the history behind many of D.C.’s great monuments and the ideas that shaped our beliefs. It’s a book that’s a reminder of who we used to be and who we currently are. It’s ultimately a reflection on the role of faith in our nation’s history and our future. Small size and handy for on-the-go travel. Fast and easy reading.
About the Author:
Newt Gingrich was Speaker of the House. He has been a prolific writer and has published eleven books to date. He has been seen on t.v., cable news and radio. He is a sought after national speaker. He is married with children and also grandchildren and lives in Virginia. A complete biography can be found in the Wikipedia.
About the Book:
This is a small, but power-packed book. It’s not quite pocket sized, but it is compact enough to carry with you on trips and visits to the capital. The book is 137 pages long of general text and then an additional 22 pages of maps and photos of all the monuments, memorials and buildings cited.
Gingrich notes that a walking tour of our nation’s capital is a timely and important thing for all Americans – young, old, man, woman or child. A scenic walking tour is noteworthy as it allows Americans to revisit amazing men and women and their important accomplishments to our nation, the critical events that shaped our country’s history, the incredible documents that identify who and what we are as a nation and finally, the great institutions that showcase how a democracy can work with and for it’s people.
Gingrich wisely recalls the words of the founding fathers to sketch a poignant picture of how this nation of ours came to be: “The early colonists were clear that they did not believe the power flowed from the king down to the subjects. Jefferson turned on its head the idea that power came ONLY from God, then to the monarch, and then to the people.”
This book reminds us of “Jefferson’s immortal words about ‘unalienable rights coming from our Creator’ echoed the thinking of so many of our founding fathers (including Franklin – one of the least religious of the founding fathers). Franklin even proposed that the Constitutional Convention begin each day with a prayer. Franklin insisted as he aged that “The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – which God governs in the affairs of men”. Jefferson may be recorded in history as a Deist and one who stressed the importance of questioning all things but, he also made clear in his writings that he himself had a deep conviction that American liberties area a gift from God.”
Gingrich has a PhD in history so, it is no coincidence that his grasp of the past is so profound and astute. He notes: “The founders had a very straightforward belief that liberty was the purpose of a just government but, that the maintenance of this liberty among free people would require virtue. If virtue was to survive, it would require “true religion” which was any religion that cultivates the virtues necessary to the protection of liberty. Any religion deserving of the respect of government, which would include the freedom to express in public the moral principles of such a true religion. For the founders, it was abundantly clear, religious liberty and freedom of religious expression would be indispensable supports for our democratic traditions of government and our pluralistic society.”
And so they have for over two hundred years.
As Gingrich notes so accurately: “The benefits of these supports accrue to people of not just one faith but, those of all faiths, and for all people of goodwill, whether religious, agnostic, atheist or secularist. … A steadfast commitment to religious freedom is the very cornerstone of American liberty.”
Gingrich’s book provides numerous quotes throughout the centuries from Washington to Adams, Hamilton to Carroll, Lincoln to Jefferson, Morrison to Rush, Roosevelt to Eisenhower, and Regan to King. Quotes too numerous to note here but, immensely powerful and motivational. They are well worth reading and understanding. These historical references remind each one of us that the history and faith that is God and the infusion of the Creator in the formation of the American public square are not exclusive of one another.
Gingrich’s book besides providing historical quotes and passages, is also a simple exploration of all the main monuments, memorials and building sites of interest in the Capital. From the National Archives and The Declaration of Independence to the Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials, to the WWII, Korean and Vietnam Memorials to the Supreme Court, Library of Congress, Capital Hill and on to The White House….a tour through these sites is a memorable visit through our nation’s lengthy, complicated, courageous yet, hope filled history.
Gingrich believes you will find these monuments and memorials provide support for an America that has always understood that the existence of a Creator in our public square is a part of our fabric – not apart from it. As you tour the sites and re-read the quotes, you will see that those who seek to re-write history and write God out of our history are clearly in the wrong.
Gingrich sounds a clarion call for us to rediscover that America’s greatness is firmly rooted in our ongoing history as truly one nation under God.
Put on those walking shoes!
This small pocket dynamo book was a very enjoyable read. My guess is if you like history, you like architecture, you are open to faith…this book is right up your alley.
I have been to D.C. numerous times – my high school senior trip, business trips and general vacations as well over the last few decades. I have toured most of the sites and always attempted to see the newest exhibits as they were created. Next time I go back, I'll check out some of the smaller details I've never heard before but, enjoyed finding out due to this book. D.C. is without question a great city with endless potential, opportunity and historic memories.
I enjoyed reading historical quotes from our founding fathers, their thoughts, ideas and wishes as they created this great nation of ours. Gingrich discussed briefly their struggles and hardships they all went through on their voyage of discovery to help form this nation. There is also some insight shown regarding their attempts at critical planning as they were wise enough to know we would also have future struggles trying to keep this wonderful nation of ours intact for generations to come.
Gingrich points out some of those hardships we are experiencing now – schools no longer teaching history to students so they have no clue as to our nations origins; the court system ruling against faith and religion in any sector less private homes; news and print medias attempts to secularize the information we receive and; the elite working hard in all these areas to make sure we are purged of all religious expression from public life either due to fear, lack of understanding or simply being too sophisticated to have faith.
Many people in our country today are choosing to forget the past, re-write the past or worse yet…deny the past. If they prevail, we are destined for very troubled times indeed.
To paraphrase what Jefferson noted wisely so long ago, Americans need to know where this country came from in order to know where it is going. Our President, our Congress, our Court system all are sworn to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Each citizen bears the same responsibility to uphold and not destroy it.
This book gave snippets and glances of important historic speeches, quotes and book references so, expect to do further reading and research on your own if you want greater depth to these items. The tantalizing glimpses this book gave of our history was meant to re-fire your imagination and invigorate your mind to look back again at the past so, that as we better understand yesterday we can fulfill a brighter future.
The book has simple yet, helpful black and white photos of each memorial, monument and building. You can flip easily back and forth between the written passages and the corresponding photos at the end of the book to supplement what you are reading. You get the basics of when and why each site was created but, also interesting side notes that the average visitor might miss such as:
 The Ten Commandments engraved in bronze on the floor of the National Archives;
 The thousands of mementos left at the base of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial that are now on display at the Smithsonian Institution for the masses to see. A visual sign of love and loss that is never ending;
 A copy of the Gutenberg Bible, the first mass produced book, at The Library of Congress - only one of three perfect copies still in existence today;
 The exhibit in the basement of the Jefferson Memorial dedicated to his writings – both religious and secular;
 The amazing religious imagery on display in the Rotunda of The Capitol Building -eight different historical paintings of varying people and scenes from the past.
All of these properties come together at the end of the book to paint a picture of a truly spectacular nation - its documents, its buildings, its institutions, its history and its people. There is clearly good and bad to our history but, above all, it’s been a history with great heart and soul.
Gingrich makes note that “self-government is the most difficult way in which human beings organize themselves so, we must make it a national priority to study American history – the most profound and successful experiment in ordered liberty in all of human history, founded upon a conviction that our rights come from God.”
The special detail that Gingrich pointed out to readers in the book that I thought was the least known tidbit was about the Washington Monument. It’s the tallest building in D.C. at 555 feet high. It is a monument dedicated to the father of our country. He notes poignantly that the first rays of the sun illuminate the nation’s capital each morning and hits the top of the monument. Inscribed on the eastern side of the four sided aluminum capstone to The Washington Memorial are the Latin words – “Laus Deo” – or “Praise Be To God”. Washington’s deep conviction that the securing and maintaining of American liberty is owed to divine blessing, for which most Americans humbly give thanks. This monument is erected in tribute to him and that gracious thought.
In the end, this book makes no excuses of where it is coming from. Point blank, it is meant to make you reflect on the role of faith in America, our nations capital and in our past, present and the future. What our founding fathers did with it set our nation in motion. What our important leaders and politicians did with it over the past two hundred years was equally critical. What our current and future generations do with it deserves equal merit and serious consideration. As Gingrich notes so earnestly at the end of the book, “Our values and history should not be ignored, minimized or ridiculed. We need to act to reverse this trend or our next generation may grow up with no understanding of core American values. This will destroy America as we know it, as surely as if a foreign conqueror had overwhelmed us.”
This book is a must for anyone who believes in this country, understands its past and prays for its long and prosperous future. Retracing the footprints of our past really helps give concrete credence to the words, “God Bless The USA” that our President says at each State of The Union speech. After you read this book and consider reading others that discuss the past in even greater detail, you’ll appreciate again the deep meaning behind that simple yet profound statement.
Gingrich has a winner here. Only drawback - it was too short and I wanted more. Read this book and see if you don’t support me on that one.
Signed, Bridget Dupont-Tingley, Editor L.A.W.