I'm on a plane to Portland, Oregon, to begin the West Coast swing of The Great Awakening book tour that will also take us to Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego-all back to back. The events are quite diverse and very interesting, from universities, churches, various civic forums, pastors' lunches, student groups, and, of course, lots of bookstores.
Already, I am being reminded of the God's Politics book tour three years ago. So many people have told me how depressed they were after the 2004 election, and how the appearance of God's Politics gave them real hope again about the possibility of an alternative to the Religious Right, or, even more personally, how that promise actually brought them back to faith. I can't tell you how much that encourages me. Last time we were really stunned by the size of the turnout at all the book events and also at how young the audiences were. And Tuesday night, at the opening book event for The Great Awakening at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., the hall was filled with students.
I've been doing lots of radio interviews in the last few days and have found the comments and questions very interesting. Two stand out.
First, several interviewers have suggested that God's Politics and now The Great Awakening are giving Christian faith a different image than the one that has dominated for several years now. They say these books are helping to "re-brand" Christian commitment away from the divisive, partisan, political, and top-down agenda of the Religious Right to a new image of faith that is much more welcoming, open, inclusive, and focused on both compassion and social justice. I really hope that is true and that's part of the reason I write these books.
The second question I am asked is even more important, it seems to me. The Great Awakening is a very hopeful book, several of the interviewers have told me. But then they ask, "Do you think we really can be hopeful about real change in this country and the world?" They ask me to forgive them for their cynicism and then ask, almost longingly, if hope is really possible. That is exactly the question this book tries to deal with, and I am sure it will be the hot topic of conversation at every stop along this book tour.
Along the way, I'll be blogging about the people I meet and what they have to say. Keep up with us at the God's Politics Blog. And do visit the Great Awakening Web site our terrific staff has created for the book tour. It is full of good resources, including a downloadable study guide for those who want to start Great Awakening study groups in their church or community. (I heard a lot about those during the God's Politics book tour-including when I was in Dallas last year and a man whispered subversively in my ear that they had two God's Politics book study groups in George Bush's home church!)
The Great Awakening also has a cool little video about what inspired me to write this book, put together by some of our most talented young staffers (I am so lucky to have these people). You can also see the schedule for when we will be coming to a city near you! So come on out, bring your friends and bring your kids. We're going to have a whole lot of fun.