Frances FitzGerald will speak at the Jesup Memorial Library on Aug. 3. PHOTO COURTESY OF FRANCES F. DENNY

Evangelism subject of FitzGerald talk



BAR HARBOR — Frances FitzGerald, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and author of the story of how the Christian evangelical movement has come to play such an influential role in the culture and politics of the United States, will be at the Jesup Memorial Library on Thursday, Aug. 3, at 7 p.m. for an author talk and book signing.

FitzGerald’s “The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America” is the first full account of the place of evangelicals in American history, as well as a foreshadowing of their likely place in the future. FitzGerald not only chronicles the historical evolution of America’s strongest and most persistent religious tradition, she also looks toward the future, where she predicts the evangelical movement will be more attuned to its reformist heritage, focused on social justice and the common good, and able to form alliances with liberals on certain key issues.

FitzGerald wrote that “many equate evangelicals with fundamentalists or the Christian right, when only a minority belong to either group.” The book explains that today’s white evangelicals are a very diverse group that includes, among others, Southern Baptists, Mennonites, Holiness groups, Pentecostals, Dutch Reformed groups and a number who belong to nondenominational churches. And, many evangelicals have little in common except for the essentials of their faith, which include the ultimate authority of the Bible, the notion of God actively working in history, the achievement of eternal life through the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the centrality of evangelism and mission, and the embrace of a spiritually transformed life.

The New York Times Book Review wrote that the book “is, simply put, a page turner: FitzGerald is a great writer capable of keeping a sprawling narrative on point. … Anyone curious about the state of conservative American Protestantism will have a trusted guide in this Bancroft and Pulitzer Prize winner. …We have long needed a fair-minded overview of this vitally important religious sensibility, and FitzGerald has now provided it.”

FitzGerald is the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Bancroft Prize and a prize from the National Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is the author of “Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam”; “America Revised: History School Books in the Twentieth Century”; “Cities on a Hill: A Journey through Contemporary American Cultures”; “Way Out in the Blue: Reagan, Star Wars and the End of the Cold War” and “Vietnam: Spirits of the Earth.” She has written for “The New Yorker,”The Atlantic,” “Harper’s,” The New York Review of Books, “The Nation,” “Rolling Stone” and “Esquire.” She lives in New York and Maine with her husband, James Sterba.

Books will be on sale that night courtesy of co-sponsor Sherman’s Books. Contact the Jesup at 288-4245 or kchagnon@jesuplibrary.org.

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