Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Book Review: 'The Faith and Values of Sarah Palin'

Bryan Preston, former Communications Director of the Republican Party of Texas, has a review at Pajamas Media of the new book by Stephen Mansfield and David A. Holland, The Faith and Values of Sarah Palin: What She Believes and What It Means for America. Here are some excerpts from his book review:
Since this is a book about faith and values, it begins appropriately enough at baby Sarah Heath’s baptism into the Catholic Church. It goes on to weave Sarah’s faith through her upbringing in rugged Alaska, through her own family’s life, and to her political career. The picture we get is almost shockingly normal for anyone who grew up away from the big cities on the two coasts in the lower 48. Sarah’s family had the usual tensions of belief and direction, yet their house was known for being the hangout for all the stray kids in town. The family went to church. They discussed things over dinner. They clung together when times got tough. They read lots of books. They prayed. As for Sarah, growing up in Alaska she was athletic, bookish, driven, and focused, used to going hunting before heading to school, and active in her church and community. Some may bristle at the idea that she felt a “special calling” via her faith to go into public service, but that’s very standard fare in evangelical church and community settings. Her whole story reads well here, and comes off as strikingly not strange at all.


Sarah Palin, contra Andrew Sullivan’s and many others in the media’s insane ramblings about her, isn’t a fraud. That’s why she’s so scary to a certain subset of the elites: She’s an evangelical who just believes and acts according to those beliefs. That doesn’t make her intellectually incurious or a radical religionist or anything of the sort; in fact, according to Faith, Sarah was always the bookworm of the Heath family.

Her beliefs make her what we once called normal, at least in flyover country. There are moms like her, and moms who strive to be like her without ever thinking of it that way and who might even scoff at the idea, on every street and in every neighborhood in America. They run our offices and schools, they run the local diners and band booster drives, and they get the family from Point A to Point B with military precision. Or they try their best to do all that, while trying to work out what they really believe about everything at the same time. Palin managed to do it, even to the point of running a state while going on oceanic fishing excursions with her husband while her political opponents buried her in expensive, frivolous accusations designed to drive her from office. She sent a son off to war. She’s dealt with a pregnant daughter, a worthless almost son-in-law, and a child with special needs. She’s us, pretty much, except that she also happens to have been nominated for the vice presidency and now commands a national following while also attracting a ferocious national opposition that includes most of the mainstream press. Her faith and her values have carried her through all the very high highs and the very low lows that life has thrown at her. The rest of us could only hope that we would handle the extremes of being Sarah Palin with half her grace.

The Faith and Values of Sarah Palin: What She Believes and What It Means for America shows that Mrs. Palin is very much what-you-see-is-what-you-get: an authentically and uniquely American woman whose very ordinary beliefs have propelled her to do remarkable things. And that mainstream faith and those main street values may propel her to do yet even more remarkable things before her story is finished.

The full Preston book review is here.

- JP

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